Stories of Rainbow and Lucky: volume 1: Handie, by Jacob Abbott (NY: Harper & Brothers, 1860 )
RAINBOW AND LUCKY.
HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS,
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty-nine, by
HARPER & BROTHERS,
In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the Southern District of New York.
RAINBOW AND LUCKY.
ORDER OF THE VOLUMES.
THE THREE PINES.
RAINBOW AND LUCKY.
[table of contents]
I. The Homestead … 11
II. The Mill-man … 26
III. Trouble … 33
IV. Little Solomon … 44
V. About a Daguerreotype … 49
VI. Rainbow … 60
VII. Solomon’s Business … 71
VIII. The New Daguerreotype … 79
IX. The Hard-hearted Lawyer … 91
X. Making the Best of It … 103
XI. The Important Business … 111
XII. Luniletta and the Clock … 124
XIII. Handie Makes a Bargain … 132
XIV. Rose and Rainbow … 142
XV. Rose’s Decision … 160
XVI. Good Advice … 163
XVII. The Farewells … 173
XVIII. Conclusion … 182
BIDDING GOOD-BY … Frontispiece.
HANDIE MENDING HIS JACKET … 20
TROUBLE … 37
THE SITTING … 74
MESSAGE FROM MR. JAMES … 108
LEARNING TO WRITE … 147
MARY AND MINNIE … 179
Handie Level, when I first knew any thing about him, was a small boy that I used to see sitting at the door of a very mean-looking house which stood by the road-side about half a mile from the town in which I lived. I used to see him there when I rode by. There were also a great number of ducks, and geese, and chickens at the door, and Handie used to sit on the door-step playing with them. Every thing about the house was in confusion. There was an old barrel, with the hoops coming off, by the side of the door. There was a small wood-pile a little way off, with a heap of old logs by it too big to burn; and sticks, and straw, and broken bricks covered all the ground. There was a pig-pen by the side of the house, near a little shed, but the boards were off on one side, so that the pig could go in and out at his pleasure, and whenever I went by he was
usually amusing himself in rooting about the yard, trying to fidn something to eat.
And yet, although the house itself was in such a forlorn condition, the place where it stood was very pleasant. It was a smooth and pretty piece of ground, formed by the sweep of a large mill-stream which flowed through the valley there. The mill was a little way above. There were clumps of trees growing on the margin of the stream, which gave the plot of ground on which the house stood a very sheltered and home-like air. People when they rode by often thought it was a pity that such a mean and miserable-looking dwelling should have possession of such a pretty piece of ground.
The fact was that Mr. Level, Handie’s father, was very poor. It seems strange to call him Mr. Level, for he never was spoken of in that respectful way at all by any of his neighbors, or by any body that knew him. He was called simply Level, or, more generally, Low Level. He was a very short man, almost deformed, in fact, and there was another man of the same name, a sort of cousin of his, I believe, who lived a mile or two lower down the stream, and who was quite a tall man. And so the people, partly in fun, and partly for the convenience of distinguishing between the two men,
used to call one High Level and the other Low Level.
Low, Level, then, was quite a poor man. Besides his stunted form, his constitution was not good, and he could not do a good day’s work in the field. He had a little shop in the rear of his house, where he used to make pails, and baskets, and sleds for the boys, and do various other small jobs of carpenter and joiner work for the people of the neighborhood. Indeed, he was quite an ingenious man, and could mend almost any thing that was broken in a very neat and substantial manner. He used to earn money enough in this way to support his wife, and young Handie, his boy, very comfortably, so far as all the actual necessaries of life were concerned; but in respect to every thing like luxury and elegance, or even neatness and comfort, the whole family were very destitute, and they always looked very poor.
The fact was that Mrs. Level, Handie’s mother, was discouraged. She thought that every body felt above her. Nobody came to see her, or invited her to come and see them. The neighbors used to have little tea-drinking parties at one another’s houses, but they never invited her. Mrs. Level thought that the reason why she was thus neglected was because the
family were so poor, and also because her husband was not so tall as other men—both of which evils, it seemed to her, were things that she could not help. And it is true that it was not in her power to remove entirely the disadvantages of her position, but she might have done a great deal to mitigate the evil. By allowing every thing in and about her house to remain in so neglected a condition, she made it appear that the family were poorer than they really were. But when a person once becomes disheartened and discouraged, it is very hard for them to make any exertion to rise.
One day, when young Level was about eight years old, I was passing the house in my chaise on my way to the next town, and I saw the boy sitting on the step of the door with half of a tattered book in his hand, which he seemed to be studying very intently. He looked up, however, to see me as I passed. I stopped to speak to him.
“Ah! my boy,” said I, “can you read?”
“No, sir,” said he.
“What are you doing with that book, then?” said I.
“I am learning,” said he.
I was rather surprised by this answer, and, after pausing a moment, I said again,
“What is your name?”
“My name is Handie,” said he.
“And you are trying to teach yourself to read?” I asked.
“Yes, sir, said Handie.
“And how did you find out the letters?”
“My mother told me the names of them,” said Handie.
“But, Handie,” said I, after a moment’s longer pause, “if you want to learn to read, why don’t you go to school? Don’t you think you could learn faster at school?”
At this question Handie hung his head and did not reply. In fact, he began at once to study his book again with great attention. So I rode on.
The truth was, Handie was ashamed to go to school on account of his clothes, which, as may be supposed, were not in very good condition. It is true that there were boys in the school whose clothes were worse than his, but that did not make him any more willing to go.
The next time that I had occasion to go by Mr. Level’s house I brought Handie a better book to study in. It was one in which the letters were printed plain and large, and there was a good deal of very easy reading in it. Handie was very much delighted with the book
when I gave it to him, and about a week afterward, when I was going by again, he ran to get it as soon as he saw me coming, and brought it out to show me how many words he had learned to read.
After this Handie learned to read quite fast. He used to take his book of his own accord, and go and stand by his mother when she was at her work, and read short words to her. There was no sense, or connection with each other, in the words, it is true, as he read them, and so it was not very interesting reading for his mother to hear. Still, she seemed to like to have him come in that way with his book to her, and one day, when he had read quite a long sentence, she seemed much pleased, and said,
“Why, Handie, my child, you are really learning to read. I should not wonder if you should come to something one of these days, after all.”
The sentence which Handie read to his mother was this:
“No cat can fly, no bird can bark, no dog can sing.”
“That’s a very hard lesson,” said Handie. “It took me a great while to find it out.”
About this time Handie began to take an interest in helping his mother in her work about the house. He had always been willing to do whatever his mother asked him to do, but now he began to anticipate her wishes, and do things for her of his own accord. He would find out himself when it was time to bring wood in, so as to keep his mother always supplied. He would help to put the room in order, too, by setting things back in their places when he found them out of place. He was careful never to undertake any thing of this sort that was beyond his strength, as children very often to when they take a fancy to help others, and so get into difficulty, and make trouble instead of doing any good. He cleared up the yard in front of the house. He picked up all the chips and sticks, and put them in a box by the back door, where they could be brought to the fire and burned up. He piled up the loose boards, and he would have undertaken to mend the pig-pen if he had not been afraid of getting into some difficulty with the hammer and nails.
One day, while his mother was sewing by the back window, Handie came to her and asked if she would give him a piece of thread.
“What kind of thread?” asked his mother.
“Black thread,” said Handie. “I suppose it had better be black.”
“What do you want it for?” asked his mother.
“I want to put it into my needle,” said he.
“Have you got a needle?” asked his mother.
“Yes, mother, the one you gave me yesterday.”
His mother had broken the point of a needle the day before, and, on Handie’s asking her for it, she had given it to him. Handie had pushed this needle, eye foremost, into the end of a small piece of wood to serve for a handle, and then, holding it by this handle, he had ground the broken end to a point on the grindstone in his father’s shop. His mother, however, knew nothing of all this.
“You can’t do any thing with that needle,” said his mother. “It has not got any point.”
“Yes, mother,” said Handie, “it has now. It was dull when you gave it to me, but I have sharpened it up.”
Handie’s mother looked at the needle, and smiled when she saw what sort of a point Handie had given to it. However, she gave him a length of black thread, and Handie went away with it, and sat down on the step of the door at a place where his mother could not see him
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HANDIE MENDING A JACKET.
on account of her face being turned the other way.
He sat there very still a long time, and at last his mother began to wonder what he was doing that kept him so still. So she rose from her seat, and, walking softly, went to see. She found Handie at work mending his jacket.
“Why, Handie, my poor boy,” said she, “you can not mend your jacket. Bring it to me, and let me mend it.”
“Only, mother,” said Handie, “you have so much other work to do.”
Mrs. Level took the jacket and sat down to mend it. Handie stood by her side, looking on. He had attempted to mend the rent by sewing the edges together over and over, but his mother ripped out his stitches and began to darn the place. When the work was done, Handie expressed his admiration of it in a very flattering manner.
“Why, mother,” said he, “how close you have joined it! It looks just as if it had never been torn.”
Mrs. Level was pleased with the praise which Handie bestowed upon her work, for he was now about ten years old, and that is an age when a mother begins to think something of the good opinion of her boy. So she went on
mending other torn places until the jacket was very neatly repaired.
Thus Handie, by seeming pleased and satisfied with what his mother did for him, had encouraged her to do more. She would have done more for her husband if he had evinced the same disposition. But Mr. Level was very much in the habit of saying nothing when his wife did well and tried to please him, and of finding fault freely, on the other hand, when he thought that she did not do well, a course of procedure which unfortunately many husbands adopt, but one by which, sooner or later, almost any wife will become disheartened and discouraged.
As Handie grew older, he assisted his mother more and more, and she became more and more interested in doing what she could for him. At last his clothes were put into so good condition that he was willing to go to school, and there, as he had already learned to read, he was prepared to go on with other studies very advantageously. He devoted himself very diligently to his duties, and soon became one of the best scholars in school, especially in arithmetic. He began to learn to write too, and he made very rapid progress in this art. Besides the writing-book which he had at school he had another at
home, which he made himself out of some sheets of paper, and he used to write in that at the kitchen table in the winter evenings with great care.
From the time when he was twelve years of age until he was about sixteen, he used to help his father a great deal in the work which he had to do in the shop. He learned to use the tools, and, after learning to use them, he next learned to grind them, and to keep them in order. It requires much more skill to grind a tool and hone it, so as to make it really sharp without injuring it, than it does to use it after it is ground.
In the end, Handie took the whole general care of his father’s shop, keeping the shop itself always in excellent order, and all the tools in good working condition. If a handle became loose, he always found it out very soon, and fastened it again. If a tool was dull, he sharpened it. If any thing got broken, he mended it. He made boxes for the nails, and brads, and screws, with separate divisions for the separate sizes. All this was of great service to his father, and made his work a great deal easier.
Sometimes Handie was sent for to do some piece of work in the village or for some of the neighbors, for which he was paid in money. This money his father allowed him to spend for
clothes, and such other things as were necessary for him, now that he was a young man. Handie was very particular about his dress, and he took great pleasure in buying for himself nice, tidy, and comfortable clothes. Thus his appearance, whenever he went to the village, was always very respectable, and every body began to say that he was quite a promising young man. He was very faithful and industrious in all the work which he undertook, and the people liked to employ him more and more. If a carpenter was putting up a building, and wanted more men than he had regularly in his employ, he always sent for Handie, and would pay him nearly the same wages that he paid his regular journeymen; and the people of the town would often send for him to put up shelves in a closet, or mend a roof that leaked, or to assist in making fences, or in doing any other kind of work which required a good head and some mechanical skill.
Handie was so agreeable in his manners too, and so polite and courteous to all with whom he had any thing to do, that every body liked him. They not only liked him, but they respected him. They soon began to cease calling him Handie, for he seemed to be too much of a man now to be designated by such a name
as that, while yet he was not yet man enough to be called Mr. Level. So they got into the habit of calling him Young Level, which was a mode of designation which seemed half way between the other two.
All the money which Handie earned, over and above what was required for his own clothing and other personal expenses, he paid regularly to his father, as he was in duty bound to do. In this and in other ways he rendered his father and mother a great deal of help. It is true that the amount of money which he earned was not very great; but then he assisted his father very much in his shop and in his garden, and also did a great deal to lighten the labors of his mother in her household duties. He made a total change in the condition of his father’s house and grounds. He set every thing in order on the premises. He repaired all the buildings, put up good fences, bought some paint and painted the house with his own hands, and, in fine, made the old homestead look at last like a very inviting residence. The people now, in going by, instead of saying, “What a pity it is that such a miserable hovel should have possession of such a pretty spot!” used to exclaim,
“What a charming situation for a cottage, and what a charming little cottage it is that they have built in it!”
One year, early in the spring, when Handie was just entering his nineteenth year, he observed that for some days his father seemed to be depressed in spirits. This was remarkable, for Mr. Level usually appeared contented and happy. He used to sing at his work, and talk jocosely with Handie, or with Handie’s mother, when by any chance she came into the shop, in a very merry way. His good-humor had become still more apparent since Handie had grown up, and had done so much to assist his father and mother, and to improve the condition of things about the house, but now suddenly there seemed to come a change. Mr. Level no longer sang at his work, nor did he talk much, but was silent and reserved, and often seemed lost in thought. Sometimes he would walk about the shop or the yard as if he were looking for something, or had something to do; but Handie, on watching him, would find that he had no object, but was only walking
about restlessly as if something were weighing upon his mind.
“Something must be the matter with father,” said he to himself. “I wish I could find out what it is.”
One day he told his mother what he thought, and proposed to her that she should ask his father what it was that troubled him.
“Because,” said Handie, “it may be something that I can help about.”
So Mrs. Level asked her husband that night if any thing troubled his mind, and if so, what it was. But he said there was not any thing.
This was not true, and Mr. Level did wrong to say so. It is true that his motive was good, for his reason for concealing his trouble was that he might keep it to himself, and not make his wife and son unhappy about it. But the goodness of the motive did not prevent the falsehood from being wrong. Such falsehoods are foolish too, as well as wrong; for if it is our principle to say what is not true to avoid giving our friends pain, they all soon find that out, and so do not believe what we say, even when what we say is true.
Mrs. Level was not at all satisfied with her husband’s saying that nothing was the matter, for hse had learned by her former experience
that she could not rely on what he said in such cases. So the next morning, in reporting the conversation to Handie, she said simply that she could not get his father to tell her what the matter was.
Handie said he was sorry. He, however, meant to watch, he added, and see if he could not find out himself.
The next day after his father was making an ironing-board for one of the families of the village, and he found, on looking over the lumber in his shop, that he had no proper “stuff,” as he called it, to make it of. A very wide and clear board is required for this purpose. By a clear board is meant one that is free from knots, stains, holes, and all other imperfections.
So Handie said that he would go to the mill and get a board.
“I can wheel it home,” said he, “on the wheel-barrow.”
“And how about the money to pay for it?” said Mr. Level.
“I have got some,” said Handie. “I always take care to have plenty of money.”
This was true. Any person, unless he is in absolute destitution and poverty, can always have plenty of money by spending less than he
receives. If he adopts this principle, and has the resolution to adhere to it, he will soon find his pocket filling up.
So Handie took the wheel-barrow and went to mill. The mill was a little way up the stream from Mr. Level’s house. There was a dam across the stream above the mill. This dam had been built in order to make a fall for driving the great water-wheel under the mill, by which the saws and other machinery were worked. There was a flume—that is, a channel built of timbers and planks, to convey the water from the dam to the mill. Above the dam were a great many logs lying in the water and waiting to be sawed. These logs had been floated down the stream from the forests on the banks of it where the trees had grown.
Besides these logs in the water, there were others on the ground in the yards about the mill. these logs had been hauled to the place over the snow during the winter, in order to be sawed into boards. They belonged to various farmers living on the different roads, and were all marked with letters or characters to denote the persons respectively who owned them.
The logs in the river belonged generally to the mill-man himself. He was accustomed to saw them up from time to time in his mill, and
to keep supplies of boards of different kinds, obtained from them, for sale.
Handie, when he arrived at the mill, told the mill-man what he wanted, and then they both together went to a pile of boards in a corner, and began looking them over. They presently found such a one as Handie required, and took it out. The mill-man measured the length and breadth of this board with his rule, and then multiplied the dimensions together to find out how many square feet there were in the board, for boards are bought and sold by the square foot. In this way he soon ascertained the price, and Handie, after paying the money, put the board on the wheel-barrow, and was about to wheel it away, when the mill-man stopped him by saying,
“Handie, do you think you could contrive any way to raise a hundred dollars or so?”
“A hundred dollars!” said Handie; “that is a great deal of money.”
“Because,” said the mill-man, “if you yourself, or you and your father together, could raise about a hundred dollars to buy a horse and cart, I should like to hire you to haul timber for me all summer. I could afford to pay you at the rate of two dollars a day. How much do you think you earn now?”
“I don’t make one dollar a day,” said Handie. “In fact, taking one day with another through the month, I don’t believe I make much over half a dollar a day.’
“So you see you would do much better at teaming for me,” rejoined the mill-man. “I want a good, careful man for this work, one that knows something about timber, and can attend to the business properly. Think of it, and talk with your father about it, and see what you can do.”
Handie did think of the proposal very seriously all the way home. He was very much pleased with it indeed, and wished very much that he could think of some possible way of procuring the money.
“I think, after all, it would be better,’ said he to himself, musing—“I think it would be better for father to do it, and not me. He knows all about lumber, and he knows about taking care of a horse, and driving him too, and that would be lighter and prettier work for him than what he does now, besides being more profitable. I don’t believe that he makes as much by his work in the shop as I do working out.”
Handie thought, moreover, that his own earnings would be likely gradually to increase, while
all that could be reasonably expected in respect to his father’s was that they would not diminish. It seemed to him, therefore, best, on every account, that his father should take the horse and cart, and haul the lumber, while he went on in his own way. He accordingly determined to ask the mill-man if he would consent to that change in the plan before he said any thing to his father on the subject.
So he went the next morning to the mill, and asked the mill-man whether, in case they could raise the money to buy the horse and cart, he was willing that his father, instead of Handie himself, should do the work.
“Yes,” said the mill-man, “either you or your father. I should be satisfied with either one of you.”
“Very well,” said Handie; “then I will talk with my father, and see if there is any way that we can get the money, though Id on’t see how we can.”
When Handie had this conversation with the mill-man, he was on his way to a farmer’s at some distance, where he was going to work that day at framing a barn. Of course, he had no opportunity to speak to his father about the mill-man’s proposal until he returned home that evening.
It was on a cold and windy day in March that Handie went to work at the farmer’s on the barn, and when he came home in the evening the first thing that he did was to build up a good fire. He put on a stout forestick across the andirons, and laid the brands and half-burnt sticks upon and behind it. Then he brought in some pine chips and sticks from the shop, and put them underneath. All this time his mother was at work setting the table for supper. The light from the fire soon illuminated the whole room in a very cheerful manner. It shone out over the floor, and flashed on the walls and curtains, and made such a bright light at the windows as to make every traveler that rode by in the cold turn his head and look steadily at it all the time that he was passing. One boy, who was covered up in the buffalo in his father’s wagon, put his head out to see, and said,
“Ah! father, I’ll warrant you they are go-
ing to have a good supper in that house to-night.”
Handie, when he had finished building the fire, and had swept up the hearth, went to his coat and took four large apples out of the pockets.
“Captain Early gave me some apples, mother,” said he, “and I am going to roast them for you.”
Captain Early was the name of a farmer for whom Handie had been at work that day.
“They are Roxburg [sic] russets,” said Handie, “and of the biggest kind.”
So he put the apples down upon the hearth in a row under the forestick, directly in the glow of the fire.
“That’s a good place for them to get roasted,” said he. “The forestick will prevent any thing falling on them; that’s the reason why I put such a big forestick on.”
Pretty soon Mr. Level came in from the shop, having finished his work there for the day. He looked at the bright fire, and at the row of apples roasting before it, and for a moment seemed pleased, but presently he relapsed into his usual silent and dejected condition. When supper was ready he took his seat with his wife and Handie at the table, and ate what was
before him, but he took very little part in the conversation. Handie gave an account of what he had been doing during the day. He described the plan of Captain Early’s barn, and he related such items of news about the neighbors as he had learned by his conversation with his fellow-workmen. His mother listened to what he said with great interest, but his father looked anxious and depressed, and said very little.
After supper Mr. Level went out again to the shop, but presently returned and took his seat in his usual place, which was at the end of the settle that was farthest from the fire, while Mrs. Level, after clearing away the table and putting the room in order, took her place at the other end of it, with her knitting-work in her hands. There was a candle on a little stand near her, but, as the light of it was not necessary for knitting, it was not lighted. Handie took his seat on a stool near the fire on the other side, and began to turn the apples.
The time was come for him to make his communication to his father, and yet, for some reason or other, he felt himself shrinking from the task of making it. he knew that if it should prove that there was no way of obtaining the money necessary for buying the horse and cart,
the fact of the offer having been made would be only tantalizing and vexatious, and would make his father and mother feel their helplessness and humiliation more than ever. Finally, however, he summoned courage, and told his father what the mill-man had proposed.
His father heard what Handie said in silence, looking all the time steadily into the fire.
Handie’s mother, on the other hand, seemed greatly pleased at the offer. She put down her knitting into her lap, and clapped her hands, saying,
“Why, Handie! That’s a capital opening for us.”
Mr. Level did not speak a word.
“I thought it was a pretty good opening myself,” said Handie.
“Yes,” said Mr. Level, “it would be a good opening enough if we could only profit by it.”
“And you think we can’t profit by it?” asked Handie.
Mr. Level slowly shook his head, but without lifting his eyes from the fire.
At length he seemed suddenly to make an effort to speak. He raised himself up in his seat, looked first at his wife and then at Handie, and said, in a voice which he evidently tried very hard to keep from faltering.
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“No, we not only can’t raise this money, but, what is worse than that—for I may as well tell you first as last—on the first of April we have got to be turned out of this house; and where under the heavens we are to go to, or what is to become of us, I know no more than any babe unborn.”
So saying, Mr. Level rose abruptly from his seat, and began walking to and fro across the room, apparently in great distress.
Mrs. Level and Handie were utterly thunderstruck. For a moment they looked at each other aghast. Presently Mrs. Level, speaking in a low voice, as if half unconscious of what she was saying, repeated the words,
“Turned out of this house!”
After a painful pause of several minutes, during which Mr. Level continued to walk to and fro restlessly across the room, Handie at last ventured to speak.
“What right has any body to turn us out of this house, father? Is not it yours?”
“Yes,” said his father, “it is mine, but then there is a mortgage upon it; and so, because I can’t pay the very minute the money is due, they are going to turn us out of house and home.”
“Who is going to do it?” asked Mrs. Level.
“Why, it is a lawyer in the village that’s got the mortgage,” said Mr. Level, bitterly, “and he gave me notice of foreclosure long ago. The time will be out the first of April.”
“But can’t we do something to prevent their turning us out?” said Mrs. Level.
“No,” replied Mr. Level, “not a thing but what I’ve tried. I have done the best I could to stave it off in every way, and now the time is out, and the law is on their side, and go we must.”
“Oh, those hard-hearted lawyers!” exclaimed Mrs. Level, clasping her hands in despair.
“Who is the lawyer?” asked Handie.
“Mr. James,” replied his father.
“Why, I always heard that Mr. James was a very fair man,” said Handie.
His father did not reply, but continued to walk to and fro about the room.
Handie had only a confused idea of what a mortgage was. He had, indeed, often heard of mortgaging property, and he had some general notion of the character of such a transaction, but his ideas were not very definite or precise. The thing itself is, however, very simple. If a man wishes to borrow money for any purpose, and he has a house or any other such property, and he wishes to make it perfectly safe for the
person who has the money to lend it to him, he gives him a formal writing, in which he solemnly promises that, if he does not repay the money at the time when he agrees, then he will give up the house, in order that it may be sold to raise money to pay the debt. This writing is called a mortgage.
Then in case, when the time comes, he does not pay the debt, and is not willing to give up the house, it becomes the duty of the officers of the law to take the house and sell it, after giving the man a reasonable notice in order to give him time to procure the money in some other way, if he can.
When the house is sold, the officers of the law pay to the man who lent the money the amount due to him on the debt, and the rest of the proceeds, if the house sells for more than the debt, is delivered to the owner.
This is evidently just and fair to all the parties concerned. It is often very convenient for a an to pledge his house, or any other such property that he possesses, for the repayment of money that he wishes to borrow, for sometimes he could not borrow money in any other way. Indeed, that is one great advantage in owning a house or a piece of land for a young man in business, for it enables him to borrow
money very easily when he requires it for a temporary purpose in his business. In such cases, however, he ought to consider well, when he borrows the money, whether he is really going to be able to repay it at the time he agrees, or if by any chance he should not, whether he will be prepared to fulfill honorably the other alternative of the agreement, namely, to give up the house to be sold; and then, when the time arrives, he ought to come forward like a man, and do either the one thing or the other, without making any difficulty about it.
Handie had some general ideas of this kind floating in his mind in respect to the nature of a mortage, and to the duties and obligations arising from such a contract, but neither he nor his mother had known until this very evening that there was any mortgage on their house. Mr. Level had kept it a secret, in order not to give them anxiety. He had borrowed the money on the mortgage some time before for the purpose of paying off a number of debts which he had contracted, and he had always hoped to be able to pay the money when it became due, or else, if he should find that he could not pay it when it first became due, he hoped to be able to renew the mortgage so as to gain more time, and thus finally to pay off the debt,
without troubling his wife or Handie about it at all.
He had, in fact, got the mortgage renewed twice, for it was several years before this time that he had first given it. But now the money was wanted very much by the lender, and Mr. James, who had the care of the business, said it could not be renewed again.
After a pause of some minutes, Handie asked his father how much the mortgage was for.
“For seventy-five dollars, and the interest since—I don’t know when,” said Mr. Level. “I think it like enough that it amounts by this time to nearly a hundred dollars.”
“Oh, that is not such a very great deal,” said Handie. “I think we can do something or other. Don’t think any thing more about it to-night, father, and to-morrow I’ll go and see Mr. James, and find out what we can do.”
“It won’t do any good,” replied Mr. Level. “It’s too late to help it. I have been to see Mr. James time and again, and it’s of no use. He has got the power in his hands, and go we must.”
“Oh, those hard-hearted lawyers!” exclaimed Mrs. Level once more.
I must now leave Handie for a little while, and go back to tell you something in respect to a boy named Solomon, who lived about two miles from Mr. Level’s house, though on the other side of the village. He was named Solomon, not because he was very wise, but because that was his father’s name. He was, however, a pretty bright boy, as you will see.
His father was an industrious and honest man, but poor. He lived in a small hired house, near a place where four roads met. He used to work for the farmers who lived on these roads, so that the house that he lived in was in quite a central and convenient position. It was a very small house, but it was large enough for three persons, and there was nobody in the family but the man himself, his wife, and little Solomon.
There were two rooms in the house on the lower floor, and a sort of loft above. The loft was used as a store-room for various articles, but there was a part partitioned off in one cor-
ner which Solomon called his room. He was promised that he should have a bed in it and sleep there as soon as he was a little bigger. As it was, for he was at this time only about four years old, he slept in a sort of crib which his father had made for him, which stood in a corner of his mother’s room. He was very ambitious to see the time when he should be old enough to sleep in a room by himself above.
He had a chest in his room, or rather a large box, which his father had made for him, where he kept such playthings as he had. His father had made this box for him too. It was made of thin boards, sawed to the proper dimensions, and then nailed together, and covered inside and out with paper, such as rooms are papered with. THis made the box look very neat and pretty. Solomon always kept it, moreover, in excellent order.
Solomon was very proud of his box, though his father did not seem to be entirely satisfied with it.
When we get upon our farm, he used to say, I shall have a shop and some good tools, and then I can make you a much better box.
This farm which Mr. Roundly, for that was the name of Solomon’s father, looked forward to possess, was one which he was going to buy
as soon as he had laid up money enough. He had already nearly half enough. He had about one hundred and twenty-five dollars. Double that sum would be two hundred and fifty dollars, and this would be enough to enable him to buy his own farm.
I do not mean that two hundred and fifty dollars would be enough to pay for the farm in full, but only to enable him to make a bargain for it and take possession, under a promise to pay the rest of the purchase money at a future time, and mortgaging the farm for security. The farm which Mr. Roundly wished to buy was quite a small one, but the price of it was about eight hundred dollars. The owner of it was willing to sell it to him whenever he could pay two hundred and fifty dollars down, on condition that he would give a mortgage of the farm for the remaining five hundred and fifty dollars, to be paid half in three, and the other half in five years. Mr. Roundly thought that he could easily do that from the produce of the farm, if he could once be put in possession of it, and so he was making every exertion in his power to lay up the two hundred and fifty dollars. His wife helped him, too, as much as she possibly could. She was extremely prudent and economical in the management of her house,
and she contrived various ways also to earn money herself, and all that she earned she added to her husband’s store.
Things went on in this way very prosperously until, at length, all the fine plans and prospects of the family were suddenly cut off by a great calamity. Mr. Roundly himself fell sick and died. Mrs. Roundly was plunged into the deepest distress by the death of her husband. For a time she seemed in utter despair. When engaged in getting breakfast or supper, or in performing her other necessary household duties, she was so silent, and her countenance wore such a sad and sorrowful expression, that it made Solomon very unhappy to see her. He himself had at first been deeply grieved at his father’s death, but he would have soon recovered his usual spirits if it had not been for the continued dejection of his mother.
The neighbors were all very kind to Mrs. Roundly, and felt a great sympathy for her in her distress. They did all they could, too, to help her and to comfort her. She deserved this of them, in fact, for she had been very kind to them whenever they had had sickness in their families, or were suffering from any other trouble, while her husband was alive and well. Oftentimes, when she had been working indus-
triously all day, she would go and watch all night with some poor sick child in order to relieve its mother, or sit up late and sew to make mourning garments for a family in affliction.
The neighbors returned these kindnesses at the time as well as they could by sending little presents to Mrs. Roundly, and doing her such other favors as were in their power.
Among other families that lived near, there was one consisting of a colored woman and her son, to whom Mrs. Roundly was particularly kind, for the reason that almost every body else neglected and seemed to despise them. The boy, who was now about twelve years old, was a very good-natured boy, and, in return for Mrs. Roundly’s kindness to him and to his mother, he used often to come and play with Solomon, and to take him out to ride in a little wagon which his father had made for him. Sometimes he used even to take him down to the brook a fishing, which Solomon liked best of any thing.
What this colored boy’s original name was I can not say. He was always called Rainbow, and he had been called so by all the people of the neighborhood for so long a time that nobody knew whether or not he ever had had any other name.
About a Daguerreotype.
Of all the various favors which Mrs. Roundly had received from her neighbors and friends in acknowledgment of her acts of kindness toward them, the one which she had always prized the most was a present she received from the father of a little fellow named Josey Cameron. The case was this: There was an apple-tree in Mrs. Roundly’s garden which bore very large and fine apples. Some of the branches of this apple-tree projected beyond the wall, so that several of the apples hung over the road—I do not mean over the actual roadway, but over that portion of the land which had been set apart for the road.
Now it is a prevailing notion among boys that apples so situated belong to the public, and that any body may take them who pleases. They reason in this way about it. The road, they say, belongs to the town, and all that grows within the limits of the road must, of course, belong to the town too. Now if the branches
of a tree reach over a wall, it is to be presumed that the roots extend under it in an equal degree, and that they draw as great a proportion of the nutriment for the tree from the public property below as the branches extend over it above; and thus they think that any body belonging to the town may gather apples or other fruit growing in such a situation.
But all this is a mistake; for, in the case of a road, it is a well- established principle of law that the public do not own the soil at all, and have no right to any thing that is found in it or grown upon it, except so far as may be required for making or repairing the roadway. All that the public claim is simply the right of way, as it is called; and any thing that grows by the road-side, whether within or without the farmer’s walls, belongs solely to the farmer himself who owns the land adjoining.
Now little Josey Cameron did not understand all this, but, like other boys, he had an idea that he had a right to apples hanging over a wall toward the road; and one day, when he was going by Mr. Roundly’s house, seeing these apples, he determined that he would have at least one of them. He had, after all, however, notwithstanding his notion about the right of the public to such fruit, a secret feeling that what he was go-
ing to do was wrong, and so he looked carefully this way and that to see that nothing was coming along the road. He also looked very closely at Mr. Roundly’s house, so as to be sure that nobody was there looking out at the windows.
He then picked up a stone from the ground, and, taking aim at one of the apples, he threw it into the tree.
Instead of seeing an apple fall as he expected, he saw a bird fly away.
“My!” said he to himself, with an exclamation of surprise. “I came within one of hitting that bird.”
He then took up another stone, and determined that he would throw it with all his force, in hopes that, if he did not hit any apple, the stone might by chance strike some limb, and so knock the apples down by shaking the limb. This was perhaps not a bad calculation in itself, but it resulted unfortunately in this case, for the stone struck one of the limbs, and was thrown off by the rebound of it with such force that it came back to Josey himself, and hit him hard, directly above his eye. At the same instant a large apple dropped to the ground at his feet.
Josey screamed aloud with pain and terror.
Mrs. Roundly, hearing the cry, hastened to the window, and saw him standing under the tree with his hands over his eyes, and bowing his head up and down as if in great pain, making at the same time a great outcry. She immediately ran out to the place to help him. Instead of reproaching him for what he had been doing, and telling him, as many persons would have done in such a case, that it was good enough for him that he had got hurt, she spoke to him very kindly and tenderly, and, taking him in her arms, began to carry him toward the house. She walked as fast as she could, for she observed that the blood was running down between his fingers, and she was afraid that he was very badly wounded.
Little Solomon was at this time about five years old; for all this, it must be recollected, took place some time before Mr. Roundly’s death. Solomon was at home at the time, though Mr. Roundly himself was away at work. Solomon helped his mother a great deal in what she had to do in bathing and binding up poor Josey’s wound. At first Mrs. Roundly was afraid that the eye had itself been hurt, but she soon found that it had not bee touched. The wound was just above the eyebrow. Mrs. Roundly set Josey in a little chair belonging
to Solomon, which she placed by the side of the fire, and then bathed the place with warm water. Josey was at first very much afraid to have her touch the wound, and he would not take his hands away, bu kept them tight upon the place, and screamed louder than before. So Mrs. Roundly began to bathe hands and all, trying, at the same time, to soothe and quiet Josey by gentle words.
At last Josey, finding that the warm water and the soft sponge did not hurt him at all, but seemed rather comforting than otherwise to the wound, gradually relaxed his hands, and finally took them away. Mrs. Roundly then, after bathing the wound sufficiently, talking all the time to Josey in a gentle kind manner, and telling him stories to amuse him, at length put a bandage round his forehead, and sewed the ends very nicely together behind. She also carried a strip of cloth from the bandage on one side over the top of Josey’s head to the other side, so as to prevent all possibility of the bandage slipping off.
“Now, Solomon,” said Mrs. Roundly, when these various surgical operations had been completed, “go and ask Rainbow to come here. We will get him to take Josey home.”
“And let me go too,” said Solomon.
“Very well,” said Mrs. Roundly.
So Solomon went and brought Rainbow. They then put Josey in the little cart, and Mrs. Roundly gave Rainbow his instructions.
“Draw him along in the cart,” said Mrs. Roundly, “until you get to the village, but when you get pretty near the house let him get out and walk home with Solomon alone, while you wait with the cart till Solomon comes back.”
“But, mother,” said Solomon, “why not let us draw him up to the door?”
“Because it might frighten his mother too much,” said Mrs. Roundly, “to see him brought home in a cart, and all bandaged up in this way. She will not be nearly so muc frightened to see him come home walking along with you.”
“If Mrs. Cameron asks you how he got hurt,” continued Mrs. Roundly, “tell her that it was an accident entirely; that he was playing about here, and was throwing a stone, and it hit something and flew back. It was altogether an accident, and she must not blame him.”
When Josey was comfortably fixed in the wagon and Rainbow was all ready to start, Mrs. Roundly brought out a very large and handsome apple, one that came from the very
tree that Josey had thrown the stone into, and gave it to him to hold in his hands going home. Mrs. Roundly meant this in kindness, thinking that the possession of the apple would please Josey and amuse his mind, and prevent him from thinking of his wound. It is doubtful, however, whether it was really a kindness after all, for the sight of the apple made Josey feel very guilty and very much ashamed all the way home.
When at length the party reached the village, Rainbow stopped and lifted Josey out of the wagon, and Solomon went home with him as his mother had directed. Mrs. Cameron was, afer all, considerably frightened when she saw him coming in in that manner with his head bandaged up, and she sent immediately for the doctor. But when the doctor came and looked at the bandaging, he said the work was done as skillfully as he could have done it himself, and in a few days all would be well. In fact, Mrs. Roundly, he said, had performed the operation so well that he thought there would be no scar.
Solomon had told Mrs. Cameron that it was an accident when he left Josey with his mother, and for some time Mrs. Cameron did not question Josey about it at all. But after a
time, when the doctor had gone away and her mind was relieved from all apprehension, she began to ask Josey particularly how it happened. Josey did the best thing he could possibly have done in such a case. He told her the whole story. This made her feel more grateful than ever to Mrs. Roundly for her kindness, and when her husband came home that night she related the facts of the case to him while she was setting the supper-table.
“How kind Mrs. Roundly was!” said she.
“She was, indeed, very kind,” replied her husband.
“If she had not taken so much pains to do up the wound nicely,” added Mrs. Cameron, “there might have been a scar.”
“That’s true,” said Mr. Cameron.
“And I think it was particularly kind in her to do it,” added Mrs. Cameron, “considering that Josey got hurt in trying to knock apples off from one of her trees.”
“She was very kind indeed,” said Mr. Cameron, “and I’ll see if I can’t contrive some way to make her some acknowledgment for it.”
Now Mr. Cameron was a daguerreotypist. He had a small establishment for taking daguerreotypes and a photographs in the middle of the village, in a room over the post-office. One
day, not long after the time when Josey was hurt, Mr. Cameron met Mr. Roundly in the village, where he had come to make some purchases for his family.
“Mr. Roundly,” said he, “will you be good enough to come to my office a few minutes?”
Mr. Roundly said that he would, and so they walked toward the office together.
When they had entered the office, Mr. Cameron gave Mr. Roundly a seat, and then said,
“I want to take your daguerreotype to send to your wife, if you have no objection.”
“I have not the least objection in the world,” said Mr. Roundly. “It will please my wife very much to have it.”
So Mr. Cameron proceeded to take the daguerreotype, and when it was taken he said,
“I am very much obliged to you, Mr. Roundly. It will not be necessary for me to detain you any longer. It will require some little time for me to finish it, but when it is ready I will send it home.”
Mr. Cameron finished the daguerreotype and put it into one of his prettiest cases, and the next day Mrs. Cameron, taking Josey with her, who by this time had got perfectly well, went out to Mrs. Roundly’s house to carry the daguerreotype.
Mrs. Roundly was very much surprised to see it, and she was extremely pleased. It was a very handsome daguerreotype; for Mr. Roundly was quite a handsome man, and he was very neatly dressed at the time when it was taken, as, indeed, he always was when he went to the village. Besides, the case was very pretty. It was made of morocco, and was beautifully gilded.
This was the way in which Mrs. Roundly happened to have a daguerreotype of her husband. She prized the little miniature very much indeed, even during her husband’s lifetime, and after his death it became perfectly invaluable to her.
Or, rather, she considered it invaluable, though in fact, as it proved, instead of being the means of alleviating her affliction, it had the effect of greatly increasing it. Whether it is of any advantage to us to have such a memorial of a departed friend or not, depends upon the state of our minds, and upon the use which we make of the memorial itself—that is, whether we console and comfort ourselves with it, or only use it to increase and prolong our grief. Now Mrs. Roundly did not comfort herself with the daguerreotype at all. The sight of it had no effect but to make her more and more unhappy.
Many times in the day she would leave her work, and take the daguerreotype out of the drawer, and go and sit down by the window and open the case, and after gazing at the face of her husband, would burst into tears, and remain for a long time completely overwhelmed with grief.
Sometimes, in such cases, little Solomon, who was greatly distressed to see his mother so afflicted, would come to her side, and endeavor to pull her hands away from her face, and tell her that she must not cry. But it was all in vain. It seemed as if she could not be comforted.
This state of things continued for several weeks after Mr. Roundly’s death, and poor Solomon had a very melancholy time. His mother did not neglect him, nor allow him to suffer from any want or privation. On the contrary, she loved him very dearly, and took very good care of him, and often said that he was the only hope and comfort now left to her in the world. Still, it made him very sad to see her so unhappy, and when he saw how much effect the possession of the daguerreotype produced in continually renewing her grief, he began to think it would be better if his mother had no daguerreotype at all.
One afternoon in June, about four weeks after Mr. Roundly’s death, Solomon’s mother was at work in the back room, and in as melancholy a state of mind as ever, when Solomon, who had been playing out in the yard, came to the door and said,
“Mother, I am going over to see Rainbow. I want to get him to do something for me.”
So saying, Solomon stood waiting at the door to hear his mother’s response.
“Very well,” said Mrs. Roundly.
So Solomon turned about and went away.
In ten or fifteen minutes after this he appeared at the door again, and said,
“Rainbow is here, mother, and I am going away with him. He is going to draw me in the little cart.”
Solomon paused, as usual, to hear his mother’s reply, turning his head a little to one side, and looking very intent, as if he was not quite certain what answer he should receive.
“Very well,” said his mother.
“And perhaps we shall be gone a good while, mother,” he added. “I’m going to take a good long ride.”
“Very well,” said Mrs. Roundly. “As long as Rainbow is with you I shall not be concerned.”
Solomon’s face immediately assumed a look of great satisfaction on hearing this, and he turned and went into the front room.
There were only two rooms in the house, as has already been said, the front room and the back room. The front room was used as bedroom, parlor, sitting-room, and kitchen. there was a bed in one corner of it, and between the windows, on the front side, was a bureau, with a looking-glass over it. It was in the upper drawer of this bureau, in the right-hand corner, that Mrs. Roundly kept her husband’s daguerreotype. Solomon knew the place very well.
He went to the bureau, opened the drawer, took out the daguerreotype, and put it in his pocket. He then went out at the front door, and there found Rainbow waiting for him with the cart.
“Now, Rainbow,” said Solomon, “I’ll get in, and you may draw me a little way. I am go-
ing to the village. But I’m not going to make you draw me all the way, for I am beginning to get pretty big and heavy. So, after I have rode a little way, I am going to get out and walk.”
Rainbow liked nothing better than to go to the village, and he said that he could draw Solomon all the way just as well as not.
“You see, although you are getting to be a pretty large boy,” said Rainbow, “you are not very heavy. I could draw two such boys as you all the way to Boston.”
Rainbow did not tell Solomon that he was little, as that would have been impolite. Nothing is more discourteous than to call any boy or girl little. It is like calling a young lady ugly, or a middle-aged lady old. Their whole pride and glory consists in their supposed magnitude, which always appears great to them, for they compare themselves in this respect, not to other persons around them, but to what they themselves were the year before.
“But what are you going to the village for?” asked Rainbow.
“I am going on business,” said Solomon.
As Solomon was at this time only about five years old, Rainbow was much amused to hear him speak so grandly of going to the village
on business, and he stopped in the middle of the road and laughed aloud.
“You need not laugh, Rainbow,” said Solomon, “for I really am.”
So Rainbow began to go on again, though he did not entirely cease from laughing.
“You will see that I am going on business yourself,” added Solomon, “as soon as we get to the village.”
Pretty soon Solomon asked Rainbow to stop, in order that he might get out and walk.
“But I can draw you just as well as not,” said Rainbow.
“No,” replied Solomon, “I want to get out and walk along with you. I want you to tell me a story.”
“But I don’t know any stories,” said Rainbow, “except one and that I have told you a great many times.”
“Never mind,” said Solomon, “I want to hear it again.”
So Rainbow stopped and helped Solomon get out of the cart, and, as they walked along together, he commenced his story thus:
“Once there was a man,” said Rainbow, beginning his story, “and he had a gun, and he thought he would go out into the woods and see if he could not kill a bear. His gun was a double-barreled gun, and he had a black powder-horn full of powder, and a leather pouch with a good supply of bullets in it. It was summer, and he had on a linen jacket.”
“With a jack-knife in the pocket of it,” said Solomon.
“Yes, with a jack-knife in the pocket of it,” rejoined Rainbow. “And he had a small dog named Clippit.
“He loaded both the barrels of his gun, and slung his pouch and his powder-horn over his shoulder. Then he set off for the woods. When he had got well into the woods, he saw something black lying under a tree some way before him. He turned round to Clippit, and said Whist! He thought the black thing was a bear asleep, and he did not want Clippit to wake him up.
“So he aimed his gun and fired the first barrel, and when he looked afterward he saw the black thing there just as it was before. Nothing had moved. So he went up to it slowly,
and found it ws only a short black log lying there on the ground, with a part of the root at one end that looked like a bear’s head.
“Clippit came up and barked at the log, and now the man let him bark as much as he pleased.
“By-and-by the man went on, and Clippit after him, and presently the man saw something black moving. Now, says he, Clippit, here is really a bear. And it was really a bear.
“The bear came along slowly, and the man aimed his gun at him and fired the second barrel. But he fired too quick. He did not wait until the bear came near enough. So the bullet grazed the top of his head, and ohly took off some of the skin and hair. This did not stop the bear. It only made him angry, and he came on toward the man faster and faster.
“Now both the man’s barrels were fired. He ought to have loaded his first barrel as soon as he had fired it, but he didn’t; and now he had nothing to fire. So he turned and ran, and the bear ran afer him, while Clippit ran after the bear, barking at him and trying to bite his tail.
“Presently the man came to a tree where he thought he could climb up, because the branches were low. He began to climb; but, before
he had got up far, the bear came and began to climb up too. But Clippit barked at the foot of the tree, and bit the bear’s hind legs nad tail, and so hindered him for a while, but at length the bear got away from him and began to go up the tree toward the man.”
“With his mouth wide open,” said Solomon.
“Yes,” rejoined Rainbow, “with his mouth wide open. the man took his jack-knife out of his pocket, opened it, and held it with the sharp point of the blade downward directly over the bear’s mouth, and as soon as he came near enough he let it drop. It went right into the bear’s mouth down to the beginning of his throat, and it cut and choked him s much, and frightened him so, that he let go his hold and tumbled back to the ground.
“Pretty soon he got the knife out of his mouth, but the smarting of it made him madder than ever. So he began to climb the tree again, while Clippit kept barking and biting at his heels.
“When the man saw the bear coming again, at first he did not know what he should do. But suddenly he thought of a plan. He took his match- box out of his other jacket pocket—”
“Ah! but you did not tell me that he had any match-box,” said Solomon.
“No,” replied Rainbow, “I forgot about the match-box.”
“Ah!” said Solomon, “I have caught you, then. I knew you forgot about the match-box, but I thought I would not say any thing, and see if you would find it out.”
“Well,” said Rainbow, “he had a match-box, and he pulled it out of his pocket, and then took off his jacket as quick as he could. then he took out one of the matches and rubbed it against the tree, and when he had lighted it he set his jacket on fire with it.”
“I should have thought he would have burned his hands,” said Solomon.
“Why, you see, he rolled up his jacket a little,” replied Rainbow, “and set fire to one end of the roll, while he took hold at the other end. He just got his jacket well on fire when the bear got up to him again. So he shook the jacket out and flapped it in the bear’s face, all in a blaze. It burned and frightened him so that he let go his hold, and fell back again to the ground.
“And now the bear was pretty well bruised and battered, and it took him some time to get ready to climb up again; and, besides, Clippit
kept teasing him all the time by barking and biting at his heels. So the man had time to load his gun. You see, he had kept his gun with him when he climbed up into the tree, and had laid it there across some branches. Now, when he found that he was going to have time, he took the gun down from the branches and loaded it. He put two bullets in, and when the bear came up again, he fired the two bullets right through his head, and he fell back dead to the ground.”
Here Rainbow paused, as he had arrived at the conclusion of the story.
“That’s a very good story,” said Solomon; “but you almost always forget something or other when you tell it to me.”
“Yes,” said Rainbow; “there are so many things in it to tell that I am apt to forget some of them. My memory is not very good.”
“Where did you learn that story?” asked Solomon.
“My mother told it me,” answered Rainbow.
“And where did she learn it?” asked Solomon.
“She read it in a book,” replied Rainbow.
“What book was it?” asked Solomon.
“An almanac,” said Rainbow.
“Do you think the story is true, Rainbow?” asked Solomon.
“I don’t know whether it is true or not,” replied Rainbow.
“I hope it is true,” said Solomon.
Then, after a short pause Solomon asked,
“Can you read, Rainbow?”
“No, not very well,” said Rainbow; “I know some of the letters.”
“Why don’t you learn to read?” asked Solomon.
“Why, I don’t know,” said Rainbow. “I have tried a little, but it is pretty hard to learn all alone.”
“Why can not your mother teach you?” asked Solomon.
“She has not got the time,” replied Rainbow. “She has to work all day, and generally all the evening too.”
“Then why don’t you go to school?” asked Solomon.
“I can’t go to school very well,” said Rainbow.
“Why not?” asked Solomon.
“Why, they don’t like to have me go, said Rainbow. “The other boys don’t like to sit by me, and so it makes trouble.”
“That’s a great pity,” said Solomon; and he
walked along in silence for some time, trying to think of some way of remedying the evil, but he could not think of any.
Thus talking, the two boys walked on together, until at length they arrived at the village.
“I am going to Mr. Cameron’s daguerreotype-room,” said Solomon, as soon as the two boys entered the village.
“Yes,” replied Rainbow. “I know where it is. It is right over the post-office.”
When they reached the place, Rainbow said that he would wait below at the door while Solomon went up and did his business.
“Very well,” said Solomon; and so, leaving Rainbow at the door to take care of the wagon, he went up stairs into Mr. Cameron’s room.
There was a table in the middle of the room with several daguerreotypes upon it, and also a number of empty cases. In one corner was a great screen. There were also several instruments in different parts of the room, standing on tall pedestals. Solomon entered somewhat timidly. Mr. Cameron came out from behind the screen to see who had come.
“Ah! Solomon,” said he, “is this you?”
“Yes, sir,” said Solomon, “it’s me. I have
come, Mr. Cameron, to get you to take my daguerreotype.”
“Very well,” said Mr. Cameron; “that I can do very soon. you are not very large, and I can take you pretty quick. But why did not your mother come with you?”
“She does not know any thing about it,” said Solomon.
“Indeed! then she did not send you?” said Mr. Cameron, somewhat surprised.
“No, sir,” said Solomon, “I came all of myself.”
Mr. Cameron looked at Solomon a moment in silence. There was a smile upon his countenance which expressed both surprise and curiosity.
:And, besides, Mr. Cameron,” said Solomon, “I want you to take my daguerreotype just as you did my father’s, without having any pay for it, for I haven’t got any money.”
“Very well,” said Mr. Cameron. “I will do it for you without any pay.”
“And when it is done,” said Solomon, drawing at the same time his father’s daguerreotype out of his pocket, “I want you to put it in this case, and take my father’s daguerreotype out, and wrap it up in a paper for me.”
Mr. Cameron was more and more surprised
[p. 73 blank]
at hearing this request; but he determined to go on and do whatever Solomon asked of him, and see how the affair would end.
So he began to get his apparatus ready, and he pointed to a chair where Solomon was to sit.
“But you did not come all the way from your house alone, did you?” asked Mr. Cameron.
“Oh no,” replied Solomon. “Rainbow came with me.”
“Where is Rainbow?” asked Mr. Cameron.
“He is down at the door,” replied Solomon.
“Ask him to come up,” said Mr. Cameron.
So Solomon went to the window, and, looking down to where Rainbow stood guarding the cart, he claled out to him.
“Rainbow,” said he, “come up.”
So Rainbow came up. When he came into the room Solomon had taken his seat in the chair which Mr. Cameron had pointed out to him, and was still waiting there with his father’s daguerreotype in his hand. Rainbow came up behind him, and asked him, in a low voice, what he was going to do.
“I am going to have my daguerreotype taken,” said Solomon. Don’t speak a word.”
“Sit perfectly still, just as you are,” said Mr. Cameron, “till I say Now.”
So Solomon sat still, Rainbow standing all the time behind him, and not daring to move, until at length they were released by Mr. Cameron’s saying Now.
“Is it finished?” asked Solomon.
“No,” said Mr. Cameron, “it is taken, but it is not finished. It will take me some time to finish it. You can wait for it, or you and Rainbow can go and take a walk about the village for half an hour, and then come back.”
“We’ll go and take a walk,” said Solomon. “And when my daguerreotype is finished, I want you to take my father’s daguerreotype out of the case and put mine in instead of it.”
“And what shall I do with your father’s daguerreotype?” said Mr. Cameron.
“I want you to please wrap it up in a paper and tie it. I want it done up very strong. If you could put some wafers in, or something to seal it, it would be so much the better.”
“Very well,” said Mr. Cameron, “I will do just as you say.”
So Solomon and Rainbow took a walk, and at length, after about half an hour, they came back to Mr. Cameron’s room. The new daguerreotype was soon ready. Mr. Cameron brought it in the case, and showed it to Solomon.
“Yes,” said Solomon, “that’s me. But, Mr. Cameron, what did you put Rainbow in for? I didn’t mean to put Rainbow in.”
“I did not put him in exactly,” replied Mr. Cameron. “But he happened to be standing there, and so, you see, he came in of himself, as it were. And then I thought it would not do any harm. You see it makes a prettier picture.”
As for Rainbow, he was very much astonished at first to see himself in the picture, and he was extremely elated at hearing Mr. Cameron’s remark on the subject. The idea that the presence of his face could add beauty to a picture was something at first quite surprising to him; but, as the opinion was expressed by so distinguished an artist as Mr. Cameron, he could not doubt the fact, and he was extremely pleased.
“I did not mean to have Rainbow put in,” said Solomon, in a tone of voice as if he were musing on the subject; “but, on the whole, I suppose it will do just as well.”
“And now,” he added, “have you wrapped up my father’s picture?”
“No,” said Mr. Cameron, “but I will do that immediately.”
“I want you to put it in that paper,” said Solomon, “and tie it up very strong.”
“Yes,” said Mr. Cameron, “I will.”
“And if you could put some wafers in, or something,” said Solomon, “so that they can’t get it open very easily, it will be so much the better.”
“I will seal it with sealing-wax,” said Mr. Cameron.
So Mr. Cameron took the daguerreotype which came out of the case, and enveloped it in strong paper, and tied it up securely. He then sealed it with sealing wax at all the knots and crossings of the string, so that it could not be opened without great difficulty.
Solomon then thanked Mr. Cameron for what he had done.
“If I were a man,” said he, “and had any money, I would pay you.”
“Oh no,” said Mr. Cameron, “I don’t wish for any pay. I am very glad to have an opportunity to do such a thing for you.”
So Solomon took the two daguerreotypes and put them in his pockets, one in one pocket and the other in the other, and then he and Rainbow went home.
The New Daguerreotype.
When Solomon reached home, he went first into the front room, and, opening the bureau drawer, he put the daguerreotype case in the place at the right-hand corner whence he had originally taken it. He then went into the back room to find his mother.
“Ah! Solomon,” said she “I am glad that you have come home. I began to feel quite anxious about you.”
“Why, mother,” replied Solomon, “you said that you should not be anxious about me at all if Rainbow was with me.”
“And has Rainbow been with you all the time?” asked his mother.
“Yes, mother, all the time,” replied Solomon.
Mrs. Roundly was just finishing her work when Solomon came home, and soon afterward she went into the front room and began to get supper. While she was thus employed, Solomon went up into the loft, and put away his fa-
there’s daguerreotype in his box. He put it down in the bottom of his box, underneath all his clothes.
Not a great while after supper, the time came for Solomon to go to bed. So his mother undressed him, and then, after hearing him say his prayers, she put him to bed in his crib in the corner of the room.
Solomon supposed that, as soon as he was in bed and his mother was ready to sit down quietly, she would go to the bureau drawer and take out the daguerreotype, in order to mourn and lament over it, as she had been accustomed to do, and he determined that he would not go to sleep, but would peep out from under the coverlet, and see what she would do and say when she discovered the substitution which had been made. But a child’s resolution not to go to sleep is as little likely to be kept as any other resolution that he can possibly make. Solomon peeped out for a few minutes, and watched his mother in her movements to and fro about the room; but gradually his vision became more and more faint, his eyelids slowly contracted, and in five minutes afterward he was fast asleep.
He dreamed that he saw a beautiful picture of himself in the clouds of the sky after a show-
er, with a brilliant and beautiful rainbow encircling it among the drops of rain, and that his mother was looking at it too, and smiling through her tears.
The next thing that Solomon was conscious of was that the morning was come, and that his mother was getting breakfast. He was astonished, for he scarcely knew that he had been asleep. He nestled a little in his crib and rubbed his eyes, and in a moment his mother came to him, bringing the daguerreotype in her hand.
“Monnie,” said she, “have you waked up?”
“Yes, mother,” said Solomon, “I believe so. Have I been asleep?”
“Yes, Monnie,” replied his mother, “you have been asleep all night, and now it is morning.”
“So it is,” said Solomon, looking about the room, but still a little bewildered.
“But, Monnie,” said Mrs. Roundly, showing him the daguerreotype, “who put this daguerreotype of yours in the case instead of the other one?” As she said this the tears came into her eyes.
“I did,” said Solomon; “or rather I got Mr. Cameron to do it for me.”
“Who told you to do that?” said Mrs. Roundly.
“Nobody,” replied Solomon. “I did it myself.”
“What did you do it for?” asked Mrs. Roundly.
“Why, mother, I did not want you to see my father’s daguerreotype any more. I don’t think it does you any good to see it. It only makes you more unhappy.”
“And what did you do with the other daguerreotype?” asked his mother, anxiously.
“I have put it away,” said Solomon.
“Where have you put it?” asked his mother.
“Why, I have put it away safe in my box. But you must not go and get it, mother. Besides, you could not see the picture any more if you were to get it, for it is tied up and sealed up very strong—very strong indeed.
“And so, mother,” continued Solomon, “you must take the new one instead. You see, you ought to think of me now, and not of father.”
“So I ought,” said Mrs. Roundly, “and I will;” and, taking up Solomon, she kissed him tenderly, and smiled through her tears just as Solomon had seen her in his dream.
“Only, mother,” continued Solomon, “I did not mean to have Rainbow put in, and I don’t know how it was that he got in. Mr. Cameron said it was an accident. But you don’t mind
that much, do you, mother?” added Solomon, looking at his mother earnestly and inquiringly.
“No,” replied Mrs. Roundly, “not at all. On the other hand, I am glad that he is in, for he is a very good boy, and he has been very kind to you; and I shall keep this daguerreotype instead of the other, and I will think of you more after this, and not make myself unhappy any longer.”
The tears here came into Mrs. Roundly’s eyes faster than ever; but she wiped them away, and looked upon Solomon with pleasant smiles, and took him out of bed and dressed him, talking with him cheerfully, and telling him little stories all the time.
From that time forward Mrs. Roundly did all in her power to suppress and conceal her grief, and to occupy her mind with her living son instead of dwelling so continually on the memory of her departed husband. In this way her accustomed contentment and happiness gradually returned, and she began to form plans and schemes of life for herself and Solomon, which interested her mind, and filled it with many pleasant hopes and anticipations.
One of the first things that she did was to make a proper disposition of the money which
her husband had laid up. This money had been lent out on interest while her husband was alive, and it was paid in soon after his death. A portion of it was required to pay the expense of his sickness, but there remained about eighty dollars. This money, as well as all of the household furniture, had been granted by the judge of probate to Mrs. Roundly, and it had lain idle in a purse in the bureau drawer, right behind the daguerreotype, ever since it had been paid in.
Mrs. Roundly opened the drawer and counted the money.
“I’ll put that money out at interest,” said she, “and keep every cent of it, interest and all, until Solomon becomes a man. It will help him buy a farm, where we can live together all the rest of our days.”
Accordingly, a few days after that, Mrs. Roundly went into the village to ask Mr. James’s advice about putting out the money. Mr. James said that the best way would be to lend it on a mortgage; and he said, moreover, that an acquaintance of his, a certain Mr. Level, wished to borrow just about that sum, for two years, on a mortgage of his house.
“And will he be sure to pay me back the money?” asked Mrs. Roundly.
“If he does not, there will be the house, which will be held as security,” said Mr. James, “and that will certainly sell for more than enough to pay the debt.”
“But I should not wish to make him lose his house,” said Mrs. Roundly, “in case he could not pay the money.”
“Why, he will have to lose his house now,” said Mr. James, “if he can not borrow this money; for he is in debt, and the creditors will take the house and sell it unless he can pay them very soon. So he is trying to borrow seventy-five dollars for two years, and he thinks that in that time he can lay up the money, especially as he has a son growing up who is quite a smart young man, and is beginning to earn a good deal for his father. But, even if he should not be able to pay at the end of two years, and should be compelled to leave his house then instead of now, you will have done him a great service in lending him the money, for you will have enabled him to keep his house two years longer than he otherwise could have done, and, besides, his son will be two years older then, and will be able to do much more toward taking care of his father and mother, if they should have to move, than he can now.”
“But will he be willing to move when the
time comes,” asked Mrs. Roundly, “and give up the house, without making any difficulty?”
“He promises that he will,” replied Mr. James. “He gives a solemn promise in writing; and, though he is ’nt a very thrifty sort of man, still I think he will keep such a promise as that. He may not be able to pay the money in case you should want it, but I don’t think he would make any difficulty about giving up the house.”
“I don’t really think I shall want the money,” said Mrs. Roundly. “I intend to have it remain on interest until Solomon grows up.”
“True,” replied Mr. James; “but it is better not to make such an arrangement for a very long time, as something may happen making it necessary for you to have the money. If, at the end of two years, you should not want the money, you can renew, then, the loan, if Mr. Level would like to keep the money longer.”
“But if any thing should happen so that I should want the money,” replied Mrs. Roundly, “and if Mr. Level could not pay it, and should not be willing to leave the house, it would be very disagreeable to me to have to make him go.”
“You will have nothing to do about that yourself,” said Mr. James. “That will be my
duty, if you intrust the business of making the investment to my care. When the time arrives, it will be for me to see that you have your money again, if you wish it, without your having any trouble about it yourself, or being put to any expense.”
After having had the case thus fully explained to her by Mr. James, Mrs. Roundly concluded to lend the money to Mr. Level, and so she left it with Mr. James and went home. Mr. James sent for Mr. Level, executed the mortgage, and paid Mr. Level the money. Mr. Level paid his debts with it, and gave himself no farther concern about the matter.
If he had explained to Handie how the case stood, Handie would have taken very efficient measures to have the money ready when the term of the mortgage expired. But Handie knew nothing at all about it, and so all the surplus money that he earned was expended in improvements about the house and grounds, and in comforts for the family. The improvements in the property made the security of the mortgage more complete, it is true, but the expending of the money in this way locked it up, as it were, and prevented its being forthcoming in case it should be called for when it was due.
But Mr. Level did not believe it would be called for. He thought that when the time arrived the mortgage could be renewed. Indeed, he gave himself so little concern on the subject that he did not even pay the interest. This was wholly inexcusable.
At the end of the two years Mrs. Roundly did not wish to have the money repaid, for she was getting along very well in supporting herself and Solomon, and she preferred to have it remain long on interest; but Mr. James said that it was hardly prudent to allow it to remain longer, unless Mr. Level paid the interest more promptly.
“It is true,” said he, “that the property is improving, and your security is ultimately good. Mr. Level’s son is getting to be quite a young man, and he is doing a great deal for his father. He has made the house worth a great deal more than it was two years ago. Were it not for that, I should think it would be better to require that the money should be paid. As it is, however, I think I will see Mr. Level, and tell him that if he will pay up the back interest, and henceforth pay the interest promptly as it becomes due, he may keep the money another year.”
This arrangement was made. Mr. Level
made excellent promises, and the mortgage was renewed. But he did not keep his promises, and the interest, as it accrued, was regularly added to the principal, to be collected when the house should finally be sold.
At the end of the year of renewal Mr. James told Mr. Level that the money must now be paid; but Mr. Level found, in conversation with Mr. James on the subject, that Mrs. Roundly did not want the money particularly, but that she desired to invest it in some other way, on account of the interest not being paid.
“Why, the interest is safe,” said Mr. Level—“perfectly safe. My house is growing better and better all the time.”
“That is true,” said Mr. James, “but still we would prefer to have the interest regularly paid. I think that is the best way, and I feel some responsibility in this case, for it was in consequence of my advice that Mrs. Roundly invested her money in this way.”
But Mr. Level was very urgent that the money should be left in his hands one more year, and finally, in consequence of his solicitations, Mr. James consented. That year had now expired, and in the mean time circumstances had occurred which rendered it very necessary for Mrs. Roundly to have the money. What these
circumstances were will be explained in the next chapter.
During all the time while these transactions had been taking place, Solomon and his mother had lived together very happily. Mrs. Roundly did not indeed by any means forget her husband, but she did not purposely dwell upon and brood over her loss so as to make herself unnecessarily unhappy by it. As for her husband’s daguerreotype, it remained closely sealed up, at the bottom of Solomon’s box, where Solomon had deposited it, for several years.
The Hard-hearted Lawyer.
And now we are to return to Handie, whom we left very anxious and unhappy on account of having heard from his father about the mortgage, and about the evils to the family that were likely to result from it. He lay awake a good deal of the time, thinking what to do. He determined that he would go immediately after breakfast the next morning and see Mr. James.
He informed his father at breakfast-time what he was going to do, but his father told him that he was almost sure that it would do no good. Notwithstanding this, however, he persisted in his determination to go.
He bade his father and mother good-morning with a bright and animated air, and with more hope expressed in his countenance than he really felt in his heart. His mother had great confidence in his success.
“You may depend upon it,” she said to her husband after Handie was gone, “if there is any possible way Handie will find it out.”
After Handie had gone a little way from the house he heard the sound of wheels behind him. He looked around, and saw a wagon coming with a man in it. When the wagon came up to him, the man proved to be Captain Early. Captain Early stopped when he came opposite to Handie, and asked him to get in and ride. So Handie got in.
Handie told Captain Early that he was going to the village, but he did not tell him what his business was there, thinking it more discreet not to talk unnecessarily with others about his father’s affairs. Still, as Captain Early was a man of excellent judgment, and was much respected by all who knew him, Handie thought it not impossible that he might be able to give him some useful information. So he turned the conversation gradually to the subject of debts and mortgages, and he asked the captain finally whether, in case a mortgage had expired, and the lender wanted his money, and the man who owned the house could not pay it, and did not want to have his house sold, whether there was any thing else that could be done.
“Oh yes,” said Captain Early. “You mean, I suppose, where the house is worth more than the debt, so as to be good security for it still?”
“Yes, sir,” said Handie.
“Then it is the simplest thing in the world,” said Captain Early. “All you have to do is to find some other man who wants to lend money on a mortgage, and give him a new mortgage, and so take the money which he lends you and pay off the old debt.”
“Ah! yes,” said Handie, “I did not think of that way. But, then,” he added, after a short pause, “suppose there wasn’t any body that wanted to lend the money.”
“But there always are plenty of people,” said the captain. “There always are plenty of people who have money to lend, if they can only get good security for it. All they want is good security, and the interest paid regularly.”
Handie’s mind was much relieved by this suggestion, though he still felt some misgivings about the regularity with which his father paid the interest on his debts. Still, he determined to ask Mr. James whether something could not be done in the way that Captain Early had proposed.
When they arrived in the village, Captain Early stopped at the place where he was going, and Handie, after thanking him for his ride, bade him good-by, and went to Mr. James’s office. Mr. James received him very kindly, Handie told him that he had come to see if
there was not any thing that could be done about the mortgage on is father’s house. He did not know any thing about it, he said, until the evening before.
“I am sorry for that,” said Mr. James, “for I know enough about you to be satisfied that if you had known how this matter stood, you would have managed so as to avoid this trouble.”
“And now, I suppose, there is no help for it,” said Handie. “The money must be paid.”
“I think it ought to be paid,” said Mr. James. “It belongs to the Widow Roundly. She has very little property, and it is rather hard for her to get along. She has been for some time somewhat uneasy on account of the interest not being paid; but, partly by my persuasion, she has let the debt stand till now, and I don’t know but that possibly she might be persuaded to let it stand another year, were it not that she is now in a sort of trouble herself, and this money will just save her.”
“I am very sorry to hear that she is in trouble,” said Handie.
“I don’t know that I ought to call it trouble exactly,” replied Mr. James, “for if she can have her money again there will be no harm, though she will be in quite serious trouble if
she does not have it. The case is this: The house that she lives in, with the little garden that belongs to it, is owned by a man who says he is obliged to sell it. The widow has hired it thus far. Her husband hired it when he was alive. They have paid twenty-five dollars a year rent for it. But now the man says that he needs some money very much, and he must sell the house. He asks two hundred and fifty dollars for it. If the widow will buy it, and pay one hundred and fifty down, the other hundred dollars may remain on mortgage as long as she pleases. Then she will only have to pay six dollars a year interest on the mortgage instead of twenty-five dollars a year now as rent, which will be a great help to her. It is true that she intended to save the money which she lent to your father for Solomon when he grows up, and to have it accumulate in the mean time by adding the interest to it. And this she can still do, if she buys the house, for she can set apart, out of the twenty-five dollars which she would otherwise have to pay for rent, enough to make up that interest, and still have several dolalrs every year to spare. So that, every way, it is much better for her to have her money and buy her house.”
“I see it is,” said Handie.
“Indeed, it is almost absolutely necessary for her to do so,” continued Mr. James; “for, if she does not buy the house, it will be sold to somebody else, and so she will be turned out of house and home, which will be much worse for her than such a calamity would be for your father, for he is a man, and is well able to find some other house. And, then, he has you to help him, which is a great deal. Besides, as this money belongs to Mrs. Roundly and not to him, and as he took it on the express condition that, if he did not lay up money enough to pay it at the appointed time, he would leave the house and let it be sold, it would be very unjust and cruel, even if it were lawful, to let Mrs. Roundly be turned out of her home instead of him. I don’t know, in fact, what Mrs. Roundly would do if she were to move away to any new place. The neighbors all know her where she is, and she finds plenty of employment, and makes a very comfortable living for herself and her boy. But in any strange place it would take her a great while to get into a good train, and, in the mean time, I don’t know what would become of her.”
“But then, after all,” said Handie, “even if it would be easy for her to remove, we have no right to ask her to do it so long as she wishes
to remain. She has a right to her money, and we ought to pay it. It is hard for my father and mother to give up their house, but I know it is right. We have promised, and we ought to keep our promise; and I’ll do the best I can to have it done.”
On hearing these words from Handie, Mr. James rose from his seat and went and shook him cordially by the hand, saying, “You are a noble fellow, Handie. I have heard a great deal said in praise of you, and I am convinced that it is all true. How old are you?”
“I am about nineteen,” said Handie.
Mr. James returned and took his seat again, with a thoughtful expression upon his countenance.
“Nineteen,” repeated he. “It is a pity that you are not two years older.”
“Why, sir?” asked Handie.
“Because, in that case,” replied Mr. James, “if you were so disposed, you could have the money to pay this mortgage by giving your own note for it. I could arrange that very easily.”
“And could not I have it as it is?” asked Handie. “I am pretty sure I could earn the money in two years.”
“Yes, but you are not of age,” replied Mr.
James, “and any note which you might give would not be binding in law. I have no doubt that you would feel just as great an obligation to pay as if you were of age; but people always like, when they lend money, to have the transaction stand on a good legal foundation.
“Besides,” continued Mr. James, “your time for the next two years is not your own—it is your father’s. He has, by law, the entire disposal of it, and all that you earn belongs to him, so that you could not use it to pay back the money, even if any one should lend it to you.”
“But my father would,” replied Handie, “and that would come to the same thing.”
“True,” said Mr. James, “perhaps he would but then it would be his doing and not yours, so that you see any body in nominally lending money to you, while you are a minor, would be really lending it to your father, and it would be to him alone that they would have to look for the repayment of it, even if it were repaid out of your earnings. If he chose not to pay the debt, but to use your earnings for something else, he could.”
“Yes, sir,” replied Handie, “I see that he could, and I see that I can not of myself do any thing. But don’t you think it is possible that I might find somebody who has money to
lend, who would lend it to my father on a new mortgage? Some one told me that was what was sometimes done in such a case.”
“Yes,” said Mr. James, “that is often done, and that is what I wanted to do in this case; but I have not been able to find any body to lend the money, though I have made a good deal of inquiry. There are always plenty of people who have money to lend, but all that I have seen make excuses of one kind and another. The truth is, and I may as well tell you frankly how it stands, they think that the interest will probably not be promptly paid, and that then, when the principal becomes due, if your father can not pay it, he will make difficulty about giving up the house, as he does now. He has complained to many people in the village of the hard treatment that he receives in being forced to pay the money; and this, though the people pity him, and ought to pity him, makes them unwilling to lend him their money for fear that he will complain of them in the same way, if they should need the money when the time comes for it to be paid.”
Handie felt very strongly the force of what Mr. James said, but he did not know what to reply, and so he was silent for a few minutes; but finally he said,
“I see how it is, Mr. James. There is nothing to be done but for us to leave the house and have it sold; and I shall do all I can to have no trouble made about it. We can find another house somewhere, and very likely it will be better for us in the end.”
“Very likely,” said Mr. James. “And then it is not certain, you know, that you will have to move, even if the house is sold; for the man who buys it may wish to let it, and then you can hire it, and live there just as you have done, only you will have to pay rent instead of interest on the mortgage. And then, besides, the house will undoubtedly sell for a good deal more than the debt. The debt is about one hundred dollars, I believe. But the house, considering all the improvements you have made in it, is worth nearly two hundred, so that your father will have about one hundred dollars ready money, which will help a great deal in any arrangements that you may wish to make.”
These suggestions were very cheering to Handie’s mind, and he thought that when he came to repeat them to his father and mother, their anxiety too would be considerably diminished. At any rate, he determined to put the best face possible upon the matter in talking with them, and to do all in his power to
have them give up the house good-naturedly, and without making any more trouble about it for any of the parties concerned.
He accordingly went home and related to his father and mother the conversation which he had held with Mr. James, and represented the case to them in such a cheering and encouraging light, that, after a little time, they both acquiesced in his opinion that they had better at once make arrangements for giving up the house, in case, after the sale, it could not be hired, and, at any rate, to allow it to be sold without making any objection.
That very evening Handie went to Mrs. Roundly’s to see her on the subject, and to set her mind at ease. When Mrs. Roundly saw him coming, she supposed that he was about to offer some new remonstrance against her insisting on the payment of the debt, or to make some new request about the postponement of it; but she was greatly surprised and much relieved to hear him say that he had come to tell her that the arrangements were all made for the sale of the house and the payment of her debt, and that she could therefore close her bargain for the purchase of her own house whenever she pleased.
He also apologized to her for the anxiety
which the business had occasioned her, and told her that she might depend upon it that there would be no farther trouble.
Mrs. Roundly was so much relieved by this intelligence, and so pleased with Handie’s kindness of manner in communicating it, that the tears came into her eyes as she bade him good-by when he went away.
Making the Best of It.
Mr. Level’s family began to experience the benefit of the high and honorable course of conduct which Handie had pursued in respect to giving up the house almost immediately. It seems that, as is not unusual in such cases, the parties concerned had expected some difficulty on the part of Mr. Level in respect to giving up the house, and the time for the sale had been accordingly fixed at an earlier date than would otherwise have been necessary for Mrs. Roundly’s purpose, in order to make allowance for any delays or embarrassments which might thereby be occasioned. But as soon as it appeared from what Handie said that there would be no more difficulty, it became safe to postpone the sale a little longer. Mrs. Roundly was so much pleased with the interview which she had had with Handie, and with what he had said on the subject, that she went the very next day to Mr. James to propose a postponement. And, after making the
proper inquiries and calculations, the sale was put off for two months, that is, from the first of April to the first of June.
“This,” said Mr. James to Handie, when he notified him of the postponement, “will give you time to look about a little and form your plans.”
“It will indeed,” said Handie; “and we are all very much obliged to you and Mrs. Roundly for arranging it so.”
“And now, father,” said Handie, when he came home and told his father and mother of the arrangement which had been made, “we have got a respite of two months, and we will go to work, and earn and lay up as much money as we possibly can in that time.”
“Oh, that won’t do any good,” said Mr. Level, despondingly. “We can’t possibly lay up enough to pay off the mortgage, and we shall have to be turned out of the house in the end, just the same.”
“Never mind,” said Handie; “the money that we shall earn will help us, you may depend, in some way or other, whether it is little or much.”
Handie, of course, gave up all hope of buying a horse and cart for his father to do the mill-man’s small teaming with, but it occurred
to him that he might possibly hire one. So he made inquiries among the farmers around, and finally found a horse and cart that he could obtain by paying for the use of it seventy-five cents a day. The keeping of the horse would cost about twenty-five cents a day, which would leave for his father’s wages one dollar out of the two which the mill-man offered to pay.
He could not have made this arrangement had it not been for the very high character which he had acquired, not only for honesty and fidelity, but for high and honorable dealing in all respects. There were very few persons to whom the owner of a horse can safely let the animal for a whole summer with any certainty of his being returned in the autumn safe and in good condition, and of his being well and kindly treated in the mean time.
As soon as Mr. Level had got his cart and horse, and had commenced his work, Handie employed himself in various building jobs in the village and about the country around, wherever he could find employment. In this way he soon began to earn a good deal of money; and, as the family lived economically, and as Mrs. Level, being now somewhat encouraged at seeing money coming in so much faster, became more and more attentive to her duties at home,
and took every day better care of the house, Mr. Level soon found that from his earnings and his son’s together they could lay up nearly a dollar every day. At the end of May they had thirty dollars in hand.
This sum, Handie said, he thought it would be best to pay at once to Mr. James toward the mortgage.
“And that, you see, father, will leave only seventy to be paid out of the sale of the house, and all the rest of the purchase-money will come to you.”
So it was arranged that Handie should go the next Saturday afternoon and pay the money to Mr. James.
Accordingly, on Saturday afternoon, when he had finished his day’s work, and had put up the horse in a little stable which he had fitted up for him in the corner of the shed, and had given him plenty of hay, he set out to go to the village. On his way he saw before him a man coming in a wagon. The wagon seemed to be loaded up pretty well with boxes and firkins, which the man was carrying home to his farm, and the man himself was riding along at his ease, until, just as he was passing Handie, he suddenly looked up and reined in his horse. He turned round in his seat and looked back
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MESSAGE FROM MR. JAMES.
at Handie, who had now got a little by, and called out,
“Say! isn’t your name Level?”
“Yes,” replied Handie, “that’s my name.”
“And you live in that house down there at the left?”
“Yes,” said Handie.
“Well, Squire James wants to see you at his office. I was to stop at your house and let you know. If you couldn’t call there to-night, you was to come the first of the week. He wants to see you particular.”
“Very well,” said Handie, “that is just where I am going now.”
“All right, then,” rejoined the stranger; and, so saying, he drove on.
Handie could not help feeling somewhat uneasy at receiving this message. He thought that there must be some bad news for him, or some new difficulty in his father’s business. However, he determined to keep up a good heart; so he walked on to the village, and went at once to Mr. James’s office.
“Ah! Handie,” said Mr. James, when he saw him, “you received my message sooner than I thought you would.”
Handie explained that he was coming to the office himself when the message was delivered
to him, and stated what his business was, namely, to pay on the mortgage a sum of money which he and his father had laid up during the preceding month. Mr. James seemed very much pleased to hear this, and Handie took out the money from his wallet and paid it over. Mr. James gave him a receipt for it.
“And now,” said Mr. James, “I have some other business to attend to with you. It is rather important business.”
So saying, Mr. James rose from his seat, and went toward a desk which had pigeon-holes above it, as if to look for some papers. Handie wondered what the important business could be.
The Important Business.
In fact, Handie listened to Mr. James’s announcement of some new business with considerable trepidation, which, however, he tried very hard to conceal. He expected to hear of some new difficulty about the mortgage, or some other bad news.
Mr. James went to the desk which stood by the side of a window, and took from a pigeon-hole over it two papers, which lay among several others.
“It is quite a piece of news for you,” continued Mr. James, as he came back to his seat with the papers in his hand.
Handie’s trepidation now began to be changed into curiosity.
“And it is very good news,” added Mr. James, looking up to Handie with a smile.
Handie’s curiosity and interest were now highly excited; but he did not know what to say, and so he said nothing.
“That is, it is good as far as it goes,” said
the lawyer. “Do you remember your Uncle Eli?”
“I have heard my father speak of him,” said Handie, “but I don’t know whether I ever saw him or not.”
“He has been living at the South for a good many years, and a short time since he died in Baltimore. I have just received a letter from his executor in Baltimore, informing me that he has bequeathed to you his farm in the town of Southerton.”
“To me!” exclaimed Handie, in great astonishment.
“Yes, to you,” said Mr. James, “and I don’t know myself of any better disposition that he could make of it. It is not a large farm, I believe. It is a place not far from the village, and is known by the name of the Three Pines. And then there are some conditions. I will read you what he says in the will.”
So Mr. James began to open one of the papers which he had taken. It was quite a large paper, with a great seal attached to it, and was tied mysteriously at the top with silk ribbons.
While he was opening it, he said,
“This is a certified copy of the will. There are some other legacies which are committed
to my charge, which I will pass over, and only read the items that relate to you.”
“I furthermore give and bequeath to the said William James my farm in the town of Southerton, known as the Three Pines, in trust, to be by him held until my nephew, Handerson Level, shall have attained the age of twenty-two years, at which time he is to convey it in fee to my said nephew; and, in the mean time, as soon as the place shall be put in good repair, in the manner hereinafter specified, he shall let it to a good tenant, and pay over the net proceeds, together with any interest which may have accrued thereupon, to my said nephew, when he shall have attained the age of twenty- two years as aforesaid.
“And, as I am informed that the said farm and the buildings thereupon have fallen considerably out of repair, I give and bequeath the sum of two hundred dollars to the said William James, in trust, to be expended under his direction in repairs and improvements on the buildings of said farm, with a view both of putting the proper in a good condition to be let advantageously until my nephew shall have attained the age of twenty-two years as aforesaid, and also of having it come into his hands in
good condition when the time prescribed for conveying it to him shall have arrived.”
Having read thus far, Mr. James folded up the paper and laid it down upon his desk, saying,
“That is all in the will that relates to you, and you see by it how the case stands. your uncle has left the farm to you, but you are not to come into possession until you are twenty-two. In the mean time, it is to remain in my hands as trustee, and I am to manage it for your benefit.”
The first thought which arose to Handie’s mind as soon as the feeling of surprise and pleasure which the announcement of the news occasioned had a little subsided was the desire to know whether this new good fortune would be available in assisting his father in his present trouble, and he accordingly asked the lawyer whether this property could not be made to help them in any way in respect to the mortgage.
“That is just what I have been thinking of,” said Mr. James, “and I do not see any way by which we can be helped by it at all.”
“Could not I borrow some money,” said Handie, “and give a mortgage for it on my farm?”
“No,” said Mr. James, “you can not do that; for any note which you might give for money, or any mortgage which you might sign, would not be of any legal validity, on account of your not being of age. The law takes no notice of any papers of that nature that are signed by any young man before he is of age. This is evidently right and proper. If this were not the law, many young men would be inveigled into signing papers before they were fully aware of the bearings and effects of them.
“Besides,” added the lawyer, “the farm is not yours yet, and is not to be yours until you are twenty-two—that is, one year after you become of age. Until that time it is to remain in my hands as trustee.”
“Then could not you give the mortgage upon it?” asked Handie, with his eye brightening up at the idea.
“I could,” said Mr. James; “that is, I should have the legal power to do it, but it would not be according to my duty as trustee. You see, if I were to borrow money upon this farm to pay your father’s debts with, I should be using the property for his benefit, whereas my instructions are to manage it wholly for your benefit, and to convey it to you, complete and unimpaired, together with all the proceeds real-
ized from it during the interval, when you are twenty-two.”
“But it would do me a great deal more good,” said Handie, “to have a part of it used for my father’s benefit now, than to have it all then.”
“I have no doubt that that is your honest feeling,” replied Mr. James, “and it may be, too, that that, in itself, would be the best thing that could be done; but it wouldnot be according to the will of your uncle. The farm was his, and he had a right to dispose of it as he pleased, for your father’s benefit alone, or for your benefit, or for the joint benefit of both. He has decided to devote it to your benefit alone, and that not until you are twenty-two years of age. He has made me his trustee to carry his wishes into effect, and I am bound to do it honestly and fairly.”
Handie was silent. There seemed nothing to say in opposition to the view which Mr. James took of the subject.
“Your uncle,” continued Mr. James, “if he had intended that your father should derive benefit from this farm during the interval before you come of age, might easily have left the income of it to him in the mean time, or he might have made your father trustee instead of me, and might have given him power to use the
property in some way for his and your common benefit during the interval; and, indeed, I don’t know why he did not do so.”
“I believe he never liked my father very well,” said Handie, in a low, hesitating voice.
“At any rate, he has not done so,” said Mr. James, “but has made me trustee, and has given me very specific instructions; and, you see, it is my duty to obey them exactly.”
“But there is, after all, one thing that I can do,” said Mr. James, “which may perhaps help a little indirectly. You see, I am authorized to spend two hundred dollars in repairs upon the house, and I can employ you to make them.”
“I should like that very much,” said Handie.
“I can do that,” said Mr. James. “I can employ you, and pay you the money as fast as the work is done.”
Handie smiled. “It seems rather funny,” said he, “for me to be hired to work on my own house.”
“It is funny,” said the lawyer—“it is decidedly funny; but it is the proper thing to do. How much do you earn when you have full pay as a carpenter?”
“A dollar and a half a day,” said Handie.
“Very well,” replied Mr. James. “I can’t
do better than to employ you to repair the house, and I will pay you at the rate of a dollar and a half a day, every Saturday night, until the house is in complete order. But you understand that I don’t employ you at all because it is going to be your house, but only because you are as good a workman to do the work as I know. If you were not a good, faithful hand, and a competent workman in every respect, I could not employ you for this work any more than for any other. I am bound to expend the money appropriated to repairs by the will in the best and most judicious manner I can for the ultimate benefit of the property, without any special regard to benefiting you in the mean time. If I could, by sacrificing the interest of the property in some small degree, do you now a great service, and so have somewhat less coming to you when you are twenty-two, I should have no right to do it, for that was not your uncle’s intention. I am to act solely with reference to the interests of Handerson Level, aged twenty-two. As to Handerson Level, aged nineteen, so far as this will is concerned, I can not know him at all. Does not that seem reasonable and right to you?”
“Why, yes, sir,” replied Handie, “I suppose
it is; at any rate, I suppose it is according to law. But I wish there was some way that I could help my father out of this good fortune that has come to me.”
Handie sat in silence a few minutes after this, thinking of the subject, and the idea occurred to him that perhaps Mr. James might pay him in advance for his work in repairing the house, and in that way help him to make up the sum necessary for paying the mortgage. As he had now paid thirty dollars, there remained only seventy to be raised, and at one dollar and a half a day that sum would be produced by the wages of less than two months. He thought, therefore, that, if Mr. James was willing to pay him for two months in advance, all their troubles would be over. He was, however, at first afraid to propose this plan, but at length he ventured to suggest it, though he did it in a very cautious and hesitating manner.
“I had thought of that,” said Mr. James; “but even that, it seems to me, is beyond my proper power as trustee. I am bound to expend this money in a prudent and judicious manner, according to the ordinary modes and usages of business, in such cases, prevailing among men. Now, paying in advance for carpenter and joiner work to be done upon a house,
in order that the workman may pay another person’s debt with the money, is not a business-like and proper mode of proceeding in the management of trust funds. I should like to do it very much. I don’t think that, in any case, any harm could come from it. But I am bound to act according to certain established principles of justice and right, and I ought not to allow myself to be tempted to deviate from them when a case occurs where it seems as if some temporary and exceptional good will result.”
Handie could not help thinking that the lawyer was unnecessarily strict in his ideas of his duty, but he thought it not proper for him to express such an opinion and so he acquiesced in the decision. After a short pause, during which nothing was said on either side, Handie rose from his seat to go away, with a countenance expressive of disappointment and sorrow.
Mr. James told him before he went away that he was extremely sorry that he had not been able to see any way by which the family could be helped in the present emergency by means of the good fortune which had come to Handie. He also asked Handie to call and see him again in a few days, as it was possible that, after having more time to think of the subject, something might occur to him to be proposed.
“And then, besides,” added Mr. James, “I shall want to see you to close the arrangement with you about going to Southerton to make the repairs upon the house.”
Handie promised to call again very soon, and so went away, much more inclined to be sad at not being able to help his father out of his trouble, than to feel joyful at the idea of being the owner of a fine farm when he should be twenty-two.
It was now about six o’clock. As Handie was walking along slowly through the village on his way toward home, revolving in his mind the new and important intelligence which he had received, he heard footsteps behind him as of some one running. He thought it was some one running to overtake him, and he turned round to see who it was. It proved to be a young man named Warner, a particular friend of Handie’s. He was running along with a letter in his hands.
“Ah! Warner, is it you?” said Handie.
“Yes,” said Warner, speaking as he ran, and looking back over his shoulder after he had got by, “but I can not stop. I am running with this letter to catch Trigget. See, it is just six.”
Warner pointed upward as he said this, but
without stopping. Handie looked in the direction where he had pointed, and there, between the trees on the green, he saw the face of the clock on the meeting-house tower, with the hands denoting that it was just upon six o’clock. A moment afterward the clock began to strike.
Warner stopped the moment that he heard the stroke of the clock, and, turning round, began to walk back at his leisure toward Handie.
“I was afraid I should be too late,” said he. “I was going to give this letter to Trigget, but he is off.”
“Trigget was the driver of the stage.
“He goes at six o’clock,” added Warner.
“But he might not go exactly at the minute,” said Handie. “Why did not you go on? You might have saved your chance.”
“No,” said Warner, “it would be of no use. He always goes at the minute. He gets his passengers all in five minutes beforehand, and takes his seat on the box, and sits there listening, with the reins drawn up and the whip ready, and then tries to see how near he can bring the first crack of his whip to the first stroke of the clock, and before the second stroke he is always under way. He says that, as long as six o’clock is his hour, he likes to go at six o’clock.
“Then I suppose it would have been of no use for you to have gone on with your letter.”
“Not the least,” said Warner. “The only possible way that you could prevent Trigget from being off at his time would be to contrive some way or other to hold the clock back from striking.”
After some further conversation the two friends bade each other good-by, and Handie returned to his home.
Luniletta and the Clock.
When Handie reached home, he related to his father and mother what had taken place between him and Mr. James at the office. They were very much surprised, and very much pleased at first, to hear of the good fortune which had befallen Handie, but they were also somewhat disappointed to learn that it could not be made available in any way to relieve them from their present trouble.
“Mr. James might manage it for us just as well as not,” said Mr. Level, “if he had only a mind to do it.”
“So it seemed to me,” replied Handie; “but he says he is obliged to go exactly according to law.”
“That’s all nonsense,” said Mr. Level. “He ought to go according to right, and not to be so particular about law. And if a son has property left him, and wishes to help his father with it, he has a right to do so, and nobody has any business to interfere and put law in his way.”
“Mr. James says that law is justice and right in the long run,” replied Handie; “and, at any rate, it is his duty to walk straight on, according to his obligations, without deviating to the right hand or to the left from fear or favor.”
Mr. level was not convinced, but he saw that there was nothing to be done but to submit to Mr. James’s decision. After some farther conversation, by which, however, no new light was obtained, Handie bade his father and mother good-night and went to bed.
It was a long time before he went to sleep. His mind was filled with excitement, and he lay watching the moonbeams that shone in through the window upon the wall of his room, revolving in his thoughts the scenes and incidents of the day, and trying to devise some plan to help his father. At length he fell into a disturbed sleep.
In his sleep he had a dream. He imagined that he was walking through the village at midnight. It was a bright moonlight night, and a gentle evening breeze was whispering through the leaves of the ancient elms which adorned the village green.
As he was walking slowly along he heard the clock begin to strike. He looked up at the clock, which he could see between the branches
of the trees, the face of it being illuminated by the moonbeams. The two hands were together at the mark twelve, denoting that it was midnight.
“I’ll count the strokes,” thought Handie to himself, “and see if the old clock is right in his reckoning.”
And so, as the clock went o with its stroke, slow and solemn, he counted,
“One—two—three,” and so on up to twelve.
“Yes,” said he, “he is right. He is always right.”
Just as he said this, his eye fell upon a little fairy-like figure that was perched upon one of the branches of a great elm-tree, and seemed to be listening, like himself, to the striking of the clock. The face of the clock gradually changed, and became like the face of a man, with eyes, and nose, and mouth, like the pictures sometimes seen in picture-books of the face of the sun.
The fairy flitted about a little in the moon-beams among the branches of the tree, looking at the clock from time to time. Presently she stopped again, and began watching the minute-hand as it slowly receded from the mark twelve, as time went on. At length she called out, addressing the clock, in the following words:
“Clock, my pretty clock,
Why must you go
Always exactly so,
Never a minute too fast, and never a minute too slow?”
The clock made no answer.
“You see,” continued the little fairy, “that it is not necessary always to be so exact and particular. Sometimes, when a poor mother, all alone, is sitting up all night to watch over the cradle of her sick baby, and the night seems so long, and she listens to hear you strike, first twelve, and then one, and then two, and the hours move so slow, you might go a little quicker, and make the poor woman think, at least, that the morning was coming. See there!”
As the fairy spoke the last words she pointed across the green, where, at the upper window of a small house, a light was seen as of a lamp burning within.
“I am sorry,” said the clock, “but I am set here to mark the time, and in doing it I must be strict and true. So you see,
“My duty is to go
Always exactly so,
Never a minute too fast, and never a minute too slow.”
The fairy flitted about among the trees a little while longer, and then stopped, and, after gazing a moment at the clock, addressed it again:
“Clock, my pretty clock,
Why must you go
Always exactly so,
Never a minute too fast, and never a minute too slow?
“You are a great deal too strict and particular. Sometimes, when any body has been writing a letter to call the children to come and see their sick father before he dies, and they have not quite time to write, and they hurry along the street to get to the office before the mail is closed, then you might hold back a little, and go a little slow, and give them a quarter of an hour more.”
“That is exactly it,” said the clock. “If I hurry on for one, I make it worse for another; and if I hold back for the last, then I make it still more weary and dismal for the first. So you see, little Luniletta, that
“My duty is to go
Always exactly so,
Never a minute too fast, and never a minute too slow.”
The fairy began flitting about among the branches again, and in a moment her eye seemed to fall upon Handie, who dreamed that he was standing on the margin of the green, near the road, and looking up toward the trees and toward the clock. The moment that she saw Handie she seemed to be afraid, and she imme-
ran down a little way, and hid behind the stem of the tree, where she took her stand upon a branch, and sustained herself by her hand resting upon a smaller branch above. Here she stood, peeping around the stem of the tree, to look at Handie.
“I see you,” said Handie, as if the fairy had been a child, and he was playing at bo-peep with her.
The fairy moved a little way, but presently he saw her peeping again, on the other side of the tree.
“What is your name?” asked Handie.
“Luniletta,” answered the fairy; but the instant that she had spoken the word, as if frightened by the sound of her own voice, she suddenly drew back and disappeared. Handie walked all about the tree, and looked up among the branches in every direction, but in vain. He saw her no more.
When Handie awoke the next morning, he had a confused recollection of his dream, and it confirmed him in the opinion which he had before been inclined to form in respect to Mr. James’s principle of action. He saw more clearly than before that a man like Mr. James, whose business it was to stand as a sort of regulator
in the various and complicated affairs of human life, who had all sorts of trusts to fulfill, and all sorts of transactions to arrange between man and man, in which there were so many conflicting interests to be reconciled, and the impulses and passions so many and so strong to be confined within their proper limits and bounds, must necessarily have strict and established rules to govern his proceedings, or he would soon become involved in inextricable difficulty and confusion.
The truth was, in respect to the will of Handie’s Uncle Eli, he had made it in that way expressly to prevent the property from being used in any way for the benefit of Handie’s father. He had not seen his brother for many years, and when he had last known him he thought that he was a very shiftless man, and was not likely to do well.
“If I leave my farm to him,” he said to himself, when thinking how he should dispose of it, “he will waste it all away. He is not farmer enough to live upon it and cultivate it, and if he attempts to do so he will only run in debt, and finally lose farm and all. Handie, I hear, is a very promising young man. I always thought that Handie would turn out well. But if I leave the farm to him absolutely now, he
has such a readiness to do every thing he can to help his father that he will sacrifice it to pay his father’s debts, and then when he comes of age he will have nothing. It will be a great deal better to let his father struggle along the best way he can till Handie is old enough to take the lead in the family. So I will place the farm in Mr. James’s hands, and secure it in such a manner that neither the farm itself nor any of the income from it can be touched by any of the family until Handie is twenty-two years old. It will not be so convenient and agreeable to them in the first instance, but it will be better for them all in the end.”
It was in this view of the case that Mr. Eli Level had arranged the provisions of the will in the manner that Mr. James had explained to Handie, so that if Mr. James had attempted to contrive any way by which the property could have been pledged to pay the mortgage, however much Handie himself might have desired it, he would have done what the maker of the will had particularly and specially intended to prevent.
Handie makes a Bargain.
A day or two after this Handie received another message from Mr. James, asking him to call at the office as soon as he conveniently could.
Handie went that very day.
“I have got a new idea,” said Mr. James, as soon as Handie was seated; “an idea that may, perhaps, help you out of your trouble.”
“I am very glad to hear it, sir,” said Handie.
“I have thought of a piece of property which your father has, and which I think he might sell, and so raise money enough to pay off the mortgage.”
Handie was quite surprised to hear Mr. James say this. He thought that there must be some mistake. He did not think that his father had any property whatever except the house and the things that were in it.
“I don’t think he has any other property, sir,” said Handie, hesitatingly. “What property was it that you thought of?”
“Your time,” said Mr. James.
“My time?” repeated Handie, quite surprised.
“Yes,” said Mr. James. “You see your father is entitled to your time; that is to say, to all that you can earn until you are of age, which will be now in about two years. Now your time for two years is quite a valuable piece of property, and will be all that we shall want if we can only contrive some way to make it available. I would very willingly give a couple of hundred dollars for it myself, if it were right and proper for me to buy it.”
Handie was very much surprised to hear Mr. James speak in this manner. He had never thought of his time being property which could be bought and sold; but when he found that Mr. James regarded it in that light, and was disposed to value it at so high a price, he said that he had no doubt that his father would be willing to sell it, and he would probably sell it for a much less sum than that which Mr. James had named.
“And if any body should buy my time,” said Handie, “I suppose that afterward I should work for him instead of for my father.”
“Yes,” said Mr. James. “You see the law requires that children should do something to
reimburse to their parents the expense which they have caused them in bringing them up. They are not allowed, after being for so many years a source of care, and trouble, and expense to their parents, to leave them as soon as they become old enough to be of any use. They are required to remain a certain number of years to assist their fathers and mothers by working for them or with them. The time when they are finally free is when they are twenty-one years old. So that your father is entitled to two years more of your services, and he may sell his right to your services for that time to any other person, if he pleases.”
“Then,” said Handie, “I wish you would buy my time from my father, and so let him have the money now to pay for his mortgage. I will work for you till I am twenty-one as faithfully as I can.”
“I have no doubt you would,” replied Mr. James. “But it would not be a wise arrangement for me, or for any body else except yourself, to buy your time. What I propose is that you should buy it yourself.”
“But I have got no money to pay for it,” replied Handie.
“No,” replied Mr. James; “but you can borrow the money. I have spoken to a gentle-
man in the village who has money to lend, and he says that he is willing to lend you two hundred dollars for three years on interest, in case you can buy your time of your father for that sum. Then you will have all that you can earn during that time for yourself. Out of it you will have to pay the two hundred dollars borrowed, and the rest will be yours. If you live and have your health, you will be able to lay up a great deal more than two hundred dollars in two years, working at one dollar and a half per day.”
“But suppose I should not live,” said Handie. “I might be taken sick and die as well as any other person.”
“True,” replied Mr. James; “and that reminds me of a condition on which this gentleman is willing to lend the money, and that is, that besides paying interest on the debt, you are also to get your life insured for the amount of the debt, and assign the policy to him.”
What Mr. James meant by this was that Handie was to go to some insurance office, and agree to pay them a certain sum—a few dollars every year—for three years, on condition that if he were to die within that time, they, the insurance company, would pay to the gentleman the money which he had borrowed. The insurance
companies will undertake to do this for a comparatively small sum of money, in the case of a young and healthy man like Handie, and thus that source of the risk would be provided for.
“Very well, sir,” said Handie; “I should be very willing to do that.”
“In that way,” continued Mr. James, “I think the arrangement would be advantageous all around. Your father would realize the value of your time at once, and would get a good price for it; for, although you can, by your prudence and good management, make it worth a good deal more to yourself, two hundred dollars is a full and fair price to pay. This money will enable him to pay off his mortgage, and leave a handsome balance to be expended for any other purpose that he may desire.”
“Yes, sir,” said Handie; “he wants very much to buy a horse and cart.”
“Very well,” rejoined Mr. James; “he will have about enough for that, so that the bargain will be very advantageous for him. Then it will be a good thing for you; for, if you live and continue to prosper, you can save a good deal more than the two hundred dollars in the two years, besides being at liberty to act for yourself in any way you think proper. Then Mr. Rossiter, the gentleman who is going to lend
you the money, will have a good and safe investment for his cash. I have no doubt that you will pay the interest regularly, and if you live and have your health, you will pay the principal in due time. If you should die, the insurance company will pay the debt. If you should not die, but should lose your health, so as not to be able to earn money, then, when you are twenty-two, the farm and the money accruing from the rent of it will be coming to you, and you can pay it out of that. The note which you will give now, it is true, will not be legally binding, because you are yet a minor, but Mr. Rossiter says that he has perfect confidence that you will pay it just as much as if it were ever so binding.”
“I certainly shall, sir,” said Handie.
“I have no doubt of it,” rejoined Mr. James; “and I told Mr. Rossiter that I would indorse the note.”
“Indorse it?” repeated Handie, inquiringly.
“Yes,” said Mr. James; “that is, write my name on the back of it, and by that means I become answerable for your paying the note. If I write my name upon the back of a note, and then if the person who signs it can not or will not pay it, then I am bound to pay it myself. But Mr. Rossiter said he did not wish for
any indorsement. He was perfectly satisfied, he said, with your name alone, although you are a minor.”
Handie told Mr. James that he was very much pleased with this plan himself, and that he had no doubt that his father would be. He would go directly home, he said, and talk with his father about it, and would come back the next day and tell Mr. James the decision.
So he went home, and his face as he entered the house was all radiant with smiles.
“You look as if you had some more good news to tell us,” said his mother.
“Yes, mother,” said Handie, “I have got some news now that is worth telling.”
“Very well,” said Mrs. Level, “father is just coming in from the shop. Wait till he comes, and tell it to us both together. We’ll go out upon the porch, and sit down there to hear it.”
There was a little porch at the back door of the house, with a seat on each side of it, where it was very pleasant to sit on a summer evening. Handie himself had made this porch and the seats, and had ornamented it by planting roses and lilacs at the sides of it. He now went with his mother, and sat down with her on one of the seats, and presently his father came and sat down on the other.
“Now, father,” said he, “I have got a plan worth talking about. Mr. James says that if you are willing to sell the remainder of my time, we can get all the money we want for it.”
“Your time!” rejoined Mr. Level, in rather a dubious tone. “I could not get half enough money for your time to pay the mortgage.”
Notwithstanding the age and the capacity to which Handie had attained, his father still practically considered him as a child, as in fact fathers and mothers almost always do in such cases.
“But, father, Mr. James says it is worth at the least two hundred dollars.”
“Two hundred dollars!” exclaimed Mr. Level. Mr. Level had never in his life had to deal with so large an amount of money as that in one sum.
“Yes, sir; and he can get two hundred dollars for it—or, rather, he knows a man who will lend me two hundred dollars to buy it myself; for he says that I myself, and nobody else, ought to buy it.”
He then went on to explain at length the particulars of the proposed arrangement. Of the two hundred dollars about seventy would be required to complete the payment of the
mortgage, and that would leave one hundred and thirty to buy a horse and cart, by means of which his father could earn a very comfortable living. Mr. Level seemed very much pleased indeed with the plan, though Mrs. Level looked rather anxious and concerned. She was afraid that one result of the proposed arrangement would be to take Handie away from home.
“If you go away and leave us, Handie,” said she, “I don’t know what we shall do.”
But Handie explained that the question of his remaining at home or going away would be just the same, whether he bought his time or not.
“I must go away for a few months to put my house in repair,” he said, “and then I shall probably come back again and work about here. Only, in that case,” added he, smiling, “if I live with you at home I must pay my board.”
“Pay your board!” exclaimed his mother. “No such thing.”
“Yes, mother, I must. That will be all right and proper. You see it is a business transaction all around, and if I make the arrangement at all we must carry it out on business principles.”
In a few days the arrangement which Mr. James had proposed was carried into full effect. Mr. James prepared all the papers, and they were duly signed and delivered. The amount due on the mortgage was paid, and the mortgage itself was canceled, and then Mr. Level’s title to his house was rendered complete. With the remainder of the money a horse and cart were bought, and Mr. Level was established nicely in his business of cartman at the mill. Handie began to make preparations to go to Southerton to put his property there in repair, on the understanding that when he came back he was to pay his board to his father and mother, which Mrs. Level finally assented to on the ground that it was a business transaction.
Rose and Rainbow.
It had been agreed between Mr. James and Handie that Handie was to be paid a dollar and a half a day for his work in repairing the house, and whatever help he needed from time to time Mr. James was also to pay for, as well as for the lumber that he might have occasion to buy, and also the nails, the locks and latches, and other hardware which it might be necessary to procure, in order to replace what was lost or broken in the house. Mr. James gave Handie a letter to a certain lawyer in Southeron, who was to act as Mr. James’s agent in paying the bills from funds which he was to send him for that purpose.
Handie was entirely satisfied with the arrangement which Mr. James had proposed in respect to the purchases which he might have occasion to make, but in respect to help he did not quite like the idea of trusting altogether to his chance among strangers in Southerton; so he determined that, in case Mr. James should
approve of the plan, he would take some one along with him of his own town, and, after reflecting on the subject maturely, he concluded that the best person that he could have was Rainbow.
It is true that Rainbow knew nothing about tools and carpentering—nor was that necessary. It was not skill so much as strength that Handie required in the person that was to help him. A carpenter, in working about a house, often requires another person to assist him, but it is not by any means necessary that this second person should have any particular skill. He wants a man, for instance, to hold a board in its place while he nails it, or to dig a hole in the ground for a foundation, or to lift and carry one end of a beam while he himself takes the other. Now Rainbow would be a very good hand for all these operations. He was now about fourteen years old, and he was very large and strong for a boy of his years. He was also what is called a very willing boy—that is, submissive to orders, and desirous to do his best to please his employer.
Handie explained all this to Mr. James, and asked, in conclusion, whether Mr. James thought it would be a good plan for him to take Rainbow with him.
“Will he go?” asked Mr. James.
“I don’t know, sir, yet,” said Handie. “I thought I would not say any thing to him about it until I ascertained whether you approved of the plan.”
“How much shall you have to pay him?” asked Mr. James.
“I thought he might perhaps earn eight dollars a month and his board,” said Handie. “That would be at the rate of about a quarter of a dollar a day in money and his board, which, I suppose, would cost another quarter.”
“There might be a little difficulty about his board,” said Mr. James. “There are a great many families that would not like to have a colored person to sit down with them at the table.”
“I think I could manage that difficulty,” said Handie, “in some way or other.”
After some farther conversation on the subject, and after reflecting upon it some minutes in silence, Mr. James said that he approved of the plan.
“If Rose is willing that he should go,” said he, “and he likes the idea himself, and if he is satisfied with the wages you propose, I think it will be the best thing that you can do to take him with you.”
So Handie went to the house where Rose and Rainbow lived to propose his plan.
Rose, you understand, was Rainbow’s mother.
Now it happened that Rainbow was at work that day with Solomon, in Mrs. Roundly’s garden, and so Handie did not find him at home. Handie wanted to see Rainbow himself first, and ascertain whether he would like to go with him or not, before he said any thing on the subject to his mother. So, when he approached the house, he looked all about, hoping to see Rainbow, but in vain. He listened, thinking he might hear the strokes of an axe, or some other sound, denoting that Rainbow was at work somewhere; but all was still.
“I’ll make bold to go in and ask Rose where he is,” said Handie to himself.
So he pushed open a little gate, and walked along a narrow path which led through a neat and pretty yard to the door of the house. The green grass grew close to the edges of the path, and beyond were rose-bushes, and other pretty shrubs, which the neighbors had given Rose, and which Rainbow had planted there.
The door of the house was open. There were honeysuckles and white roses growing together on each side of the door, trained up to
stout poles set in the ground, with bare nailed across at intervals, so as to make a sort of trellis. A great flat stone before the door served for a step. It was very smooth, and of a dark color like a slate. There was a neatly-dressed white child sitting on a little board before this step, and making marks upon it with a piece of chalk—as if the step had been really a slate, and the chalk was a pencil. This was one of the neighbors’ children who had come to make Rose a visit.
The child looked up into Handie’s face when he came near, and said,
“I am learning to write. See!”
So saying, she pointed to the marks she had made on the stone.
“Yes,” said Handie, “I see. Where is Rose?”
The child immediately began to call out,
“Rose! Rose! you must come here. Here is a man that wants to see you.”
Handie felt quite complimented at being thus designated as a man, for the child was too young for him to suppose that she was influenced by any considerations of civility or politeness in expressing herself in that manner. In a moment Rose came to the door.
“Ah! Mr. Level,” said she, “is it you?”
LEARNING TO WRITE.
[p. 148 blank]
“Yes, Mrs. Rose,” said Level. “I wanted to see your son.”
“He is at work to-day at Mrs. Roundly’s,” said Rose. “I think you will find him in the garden.”
Handie said that he would go there. So he bade Rose good-by, and then, after making an O and an S on the stone for the child, by way of copy for her, he went out through the gate again, and turned toward Mrs. Roundly’s.
In the mean time, Rainbow and Solomon were busily at work in Mrs. Roundly’s garden. Rainbow was hoeing the potatoes and the corn, and Solomon was gathering up the weeds which Rainbow threw out into the alleys, and putting them in the wheel-barrow, ready to be wheeled away. Presently Solomon went and sat down upon a little seat that was near there, and wanted Rainbow to tell him a story.
“I am tired of working,” said he. “I am going to rest a little while, and I want you to tell me a story.”
Solomon expected to hear the same story which Rainbow had told him so often before, about Clippit and the bear.
“Very well,” said Rainbow, “I’ll tell you a story. I’ve got a new one to tell you.”
“A new one!” exclaimed Solomon.
“Yes,” said Rainbow, “a real new one. I heard a man reading it out of a newspaper the other day, in one of the stores in the village.”
“What is it about?” asked Solomon.
“It is about the way they caught a thief,” replied Rainbow.
“That must be a good story,” said Solomon. “Tell it to me.”
“Very well,” said Rainbow, “I will.”
RAINBOW’S NEW STORY.
“It begins about an old miser,” said Rainbow, commencing his story—“an old miser who had a great deal of money. His money was all in golden guineas. The guineas were tied up in shot-bags, and he kept them in an iron chest.”
“What are shot-bags?” asked Solomon.
“They are very strong bags made of canvas,” replied Rainbow. “They are made to keep shot in. They must be very strong, or else the shot will break out, the lead is so heavy.”
“How big are the bags?” asked Solomon.
“About as big as a boy’s pocket,” replied Rainbow. “Every one of them will hold golden guineas enough to come to more than a thousand dollars.
“Well, this man kept his bags of gold in a
great iron chest so strong that nobody could break into it, and it had a great lock on the lid of it, with bolts running every way as big as my three fingers. The old man used to lock his chest up every night and hide away the key.
“Now there was a robber that lived in a lonely place not very far from the old miser’s, and he determined to get some of his money. At first he thought he would break into the house in the night, and first kill the miser and then get his money. But, after thinking of it more, he concluded not to do that, for fear that, even if he should get into the house and kill the miser, he might not, after all, be able to find the key of the strong-box.”
“Did the miser live all alone?” asked Solomon.
“Yes, all sole alone,” said Rainbow; “only he had two sons who lived pretty near. Well, the robber concluded, after all, not to break into the house, but to try another plan. So he wrote a letter to the miser, telling him to put one of his bags of guineas in a hole in a wall by the side of the road, in a lonely place not far from the town, where a brook came through under the wall, and made a place for watering horses. He said in the letter that if the miser did not put the bag of money there he would kill him.
He told him that he must put it there on the next Tuesday evening after he got the letter, and he must determine right away whether he would put it there or not. If he determined that he would put it there, he must make a round chalk-mark like an O on the outside of his door; but if he determined not to put it there, then he must make a cross, so that the robber might know what he had to depend upon.”
“Well,” said Solomon, “and how did it turn out?”
“Why, the miser was frightened half out of his wits,” said Rainbow, “when he read the letter. He thought he should have to lose one of his bags of money to save himself from being killed. But by-and-by his sons came in, and he showed them the letter.”
“And what did they do?” asked Solomon.
“They promised their father that they would take care of the business. They then told him to pour out the money from one of his bags, and give the bag to them. They took the bag and filled it full of shot, to make it heavy. then they went down and made a round chalk-mark on the door, to show the robber that they were going to put the money under the wall. At first their plan was to watch somewhere in
sight, and so, when the robber came to get the money, catch him. But they thought that if they watched any where in sight he would see them, and so would not come. You see they could not be in sight unless they were very near indeed, because it was in the night that the robber would probably come for the bag.
“At last they contrived another plan. They tied a string to the neck of the bag, and put the string through under the wall where the brook came through, and then they hid behind the wall and held the end of the string in their hands, so that if any body should touch the bag they would know it in an instant.
“There was another thing they did to prevent the robber from getting away from them. They contrived a plan to trip him up. They knew that when he ran he would run off in the direction away from the town, and so they put the tripping rope on that side. They tied one end of the rope to a tree by the side of the road, a little way above the ground. Then they cut a kind of a groove across the road in the ground, and laid the middle of the rope in it, and covered it over with dust. Then they brought the end of the rope through the grass and the leaves to the wall, and carried it under the wall where the brook came through. They
got a man to help them, and they all went and watched together behind the wall. One of them had the end of the rope in his hands, and the other end of the string that was tied to the bag. The man that was there to help them was all ready to jump over the wall.
“By-and-by, after they had been waiting there an hour, they heard somebody coming. They held their breath, and were as still as mice.”
“Was it the robber?” asked Solomon.
“Yes,” said Rainbow. “He came along the road, and when he got opposite to the brook he stopped to listen. He listened both ways, but could not hear any one coming. He had a dark lantern in his pocket. He took his lantern out and lifted up the slide. He turned his lantern so as to make it shine into the hole under the wall. He saw the bag there. He thought it was the bag of gold, and he put out his hand to take it. The man who had hold of the end of the string felt it pulling out of his hand. Then the one who had hold of the end of the rope pulled it hard, so as to stretch it straight across the road, and the other two started up immediately and began to climb over the wall. The robber ran, with his dark lantern in one hand and his bag in the other. It was so dark that he did not see the rope, and
so he ran against it and was tripped up. He fell down at full length on the ground, and in an instant the two men were upon him, and caught him before he had time to get up. The dark lantern was broken all to pieces, but they got the robber safe, and also the bag of shot.”
“And what did they do with the robber?” asked Solomon, when he observed that Rainbow paused, as if he had finished the story.
“Oh, they took him off to prison,” said Rainbow.
“And is that the end of the story?” asked Solomon.
“Yes,” said Rainbow, “that is the end.”
Just at this moment Solomon heard a sound as of some one opening the garden gate. He looked up and saw Handie coming.
“Rainbow,” said he, “here is somebody coming.”
Rainbow looked up from his work.
“Ah! yes,” said he, “it is Handie Level. He is a real good fellow.”
“Yes,” said Solomon, “I know him.” Then calling out as Handie approached, he said,
“Handie, have you come to see me?”
“No,” replied Handie, “not to-day. I’ve
come to see Rainbow. I have come to get him to go somewhere with me.”
“No,” said Solomon, looked quite concerned.
“I don’t mean now,” said Handie; “it is not for several days. I’ve only come now to see whether he would like to go.”
“Yes,” said Rainbow, “I should like to go very much. Where is it?”
Boys of Rainbow’s age are generally very ready to go, when any going is proposed to them, without making any very particular inquiries into the details of the plan. But Rainbow was very specially willing to go any where with Handie Level.
So Handie explained to him the plan in detail. He did not tell him any thing about the Three Pines farm having been bequeathed to him by his uncle, but simply said that he had a pretty heavy job of carpentry and joiner-work to do at a town thirty or forty miles distant—a job that would occupy him two or three months, and he wanted Rainbow to go with him to help him about the work. He would give him, he said, eight dollars a month and his board.
“It will be rough work, a good deal of it, that you will have to do,” said he, “and some of it will be pretty hard—”
“I don’t care for that,” interrupted Rainbow.
“You will have to dig holes in the ground,” continued Handie, “and lift beams and timbers, and turn the grindstone, and go of errands, and do all such things.”
Handie thought it best to tell the worst in representing the case to Rainbow, in order that he might know fully what to expect, and so not be disappointed. “And then, if it turns out to be not so hard as he supposed,” thought he, “it will be all the better both for him and for me.”
“And then,” continued Handie, “I don’t know how we shall get along as to fare. We may have pretty hard fare. But one thing you may depend upon, you will fare as well as I do.”
Rainbow said he did not care any thing about that, and he seemed very much pleased indeed with Handie’s proposal. Solomon listened to the conversation with great apparent interest, and then, at the first pause, exclaimed very eagerly,
“Take me, Handie! take me! I wish you would take me. I can lift. See.”
So saying, he took hold of the two handles of the wheel-barrow, which was now pretty well loaded with weeds, and lifted upon them very
stoutly. He succeeded in raising the legs from the ground, and stood staggering under his load for a moment, but was almost immediately obliged to put it down again, to prevent the wheel-barrow from tipping over. He did very well, however, on the whole, for a boy only seven or eight years old.
Handie expressed surprise at Solomon’s prodigious strength, and said that he should have been very glad to take him too, as well as Rainbow, if he could. Then, turning again to Rainbow, Handie observed that he looked rather thoughtful and sober.
“You don’t like the plan altogether, Rainbow, do you?” said Handie.
“Oh, yes,” replied Rainbow, “I like it very well myself, but I was thinking what my mother would say. It will be pretty hard for her to be left all alone.”
“That’s true,” replied Handie; “and we must hear what she says before we can decide any thing about it. When you go home to-night you can tell her about the plan, and to-morrow I will come and hear what she concludes upon.”
But Rainbow was very desirous that Handie should go with him to explain the plan to his mother. He thought that she would be much more likely to consent, if she could see and talk
with Handie himself. Handie was rather reluctant to go, for he expected that Rose would be very unwilling, at first certainly, to consent that Rainbow should leave her. However, he finally concluded to go with Rainbow, and join him in proposing the plan to his mother.
“I will tell her,” thought he, “not to make up her mind immediately; that I do not want an answer to-day; but only wish to lay the plan before her, so that she may be thinking of it, and that I will come to-morrow for the answer, or that Rainbow may come and bring it to me.”
So Handie helped Rainbow to finish his work in the garden, and then they both went together to the house where Rose lived in order to propose the plan to her.
Rose, though doomed by the blood which flowed in her veins, and by the cruel prejudices of those around her, to occupy a very humble position, and to lead a lonely life, was, in fact, a very sensible woman, and all Handie’s fears in respect to the manner in which she would receive his proposal to take her boy away from her proved to be unfounded. Handie made his proposal to her in full, stating how long he should be gone, what wages he would pay, described the work which Rainbow would have to do, and explained all the other particulars of his plan, and then said that he did not wish Mrs. Rose to decide immediately.
“I know,” said he, “that you will want some time to think of it, and so I do not ask for any answer now. You can consider the question, and, if you wish, talk with some of your friends and neighbors about it. Besides, you will want to make some inquiries about me, for I suppose you do not know much about me yourself.”
“Yes,” replied Rose, “I know all about you. Mrs. Roundly has told me about you, and other people too; and I don’t want any time to think of the plan that you propose. I can see at once that it will be an excellent thing for my poor boy—the very best thing that could happen for him. And I am very much obliged to you, indeed, for being willing to take him.”
Rose’s voice here began to falter a little, and Handie could perceive that the tears were coming into her eyes.
She, however, made a great effort to command herself, and went on:
“I hope you will find that the plan will turn out well for yourself too, Mr. Level. Rainbow is a good boy—at least so I think. He has always been a good boy to his mother. I shall miss him very much. I don’t know what—I shall do.”
Rose could say no more. She rose suddenly from her seat and went away into another room. She came back pretty soon, however, with smiles upon her face again, and asked Handie on what day he wished to go. He said that he would like to go the next Monday. Rose said it was very well; she would have Rainbow ready.
“And he may come and see me, if he can, on Saturday afternoon,” said Handie, “and then
we can arrange together about our setting out on Monday morning.”
The plan being all thus arranged, Handie bade Rose and Rainbow good-by, and went away. As he passed out over the flat stone step of the door, where he had seen the child learning to write, as she called it, an hour or two before, he observed that all traces of the chalkings which the child had made had disappeared, and the surface of the step was as nice and clean as a slate at school that had just been sponged, and then dried by the fire.
On Sunday evening—which was the evening before the day when Rainbow was going away—when Rose came in from milking the cow, Rainbow was sitting by the back window of the room, reading in a small New Testament which his mother had given him. He had learned to read pretty well by this time, and he was beginning to take pleasure in reading. It is a remarkable fact, that whenever we undertake to learn any new thing, however difficult or irksome it may be to us in the beginning, after a time, when we have made a certain degree of progress, the thing becomes very pleasant to us, and we like to do it very much. We observe this in a striking manner in the case of young persons learning to play upon the piano or any other musical instrument. At first they find the lessons very hard, and they never like to go to their work. But after a time, when they have passed beyond a certain point, their practice, instead of being a trouble
and a toil, becomes a source of delight, and, instead of dreading the lessons as they did at first, and contriving all possible excuses to escape from them, they look forward to them with pleasure, and are anxious to have the time come. It is so with learning to read, learning to write, learning to draw, and with all other sorts of learning. In fact, this principle shows itself in learning to walk even. The child is at first very unwilling to try, and he requires a great deal of encouragement and coaxing to induce him to attempt to take even a few steps. But after he has once learned to balance himself aright, nothing gives him more pleasure than to walk and run about, and we find him going this way and that, all around the room, continually, without any encouragement or coaxing at all, just for the mere enjoyment of it.
It is always so, or almost always so, with all branches of learning; and it is very encouraging for young persons who have so many difficult things to learn, that, however irksome and perplexing they may be in the beginning, they are almost sure to become very attractive and agreeable before you get very far.
But to return to Rainbow, who was sitting by the window reading his Testament. When his mother came and had set her milk in the
pans, she sat down and hard Rainbow read a little while. He read very well, though slowly, and Rose was quite proud of the progress which he had made.
“I wish, sonny,” said she, “that I had been able to teach you to write, for then you could have written me some letters while you are away; but I do not know how to write very well myself.”
Handie will write for me,” said Rainbow, “I know, if I tell him what to say.”
“Mr. Level,” said Rose, correcting Rainbow. “You must always call him Mr. Level now, for, you see, he is almost a man. He is taking a man’s place. He is going to be your master, and you must always be very respectful to him.”
“Yes, mother, I will,” said Rainbow, “and I will always call him Mr. Level.”
“And if you ever meet with any accident which does mischief, or do mischief yourself in any way, or if you do any thing wrong by temptation, and then afterward come to your senses, go right straight to Mr. Level, and confess and tell him all about it. Remember that
Is half repaired;
While wrong concealed
Is never healed.”
“Yes, mother,” said Rainbow, “that’s very good poetry.”
“And if any of the boys in Southerton, or any body else there, try to plague you or tease you because you are a colored boy, you must not mind them.”
“It is very hard not to mind them,” said Rainbow, “sometimes.”
“I know it,” said Rose; “but it does not do any good. You are only one, and they are ever so any, and there is no help for you. So, if they try to plague you, be patient as you can. Besides, if they try to plague you, the best way to plague them back is to make them think that you don’t care any thing about it.”
“But, mother,” rejoined Rainbow, “you always say I must not try to plague them back.”
“So I do,” said his mother, “and that is right. What I mean is, if you make them think that what they do and say does not plague you, that is the best way to stop them.
“The other day,” continued Rose, “I was in the village, and there was a boy standing there teasing a little dog, and making him bark by pointing a stick at him and hissing. It made the dog very angry, and he barked away at the boy furiously. So the boy kept pointing the
stick at him, and laughing to see him in such a passion.”
“I know whose dog it was,” said Rainbow; “it was Jabez Jones’s dog. His name is Dandy. The boys like to plague him, it makes him so terrible mad.”
“The boy was plaguing him when I went by,” continued Rose, “and when I came back, ten minutes afterward, he was there still. He had been plaguing the dog all the time. But at last he left off, and walked along the road just before me whistling and singing. Presently he came to another dog lying down by the side of the road.”
“What sort of a dog was it?” asked Rainbow.
“It was a large black dog,” replied Rose.
“I’ll bet it was Congo,’ said Rainbow. “He’s a full-blooded Newfoundland. He belongs to Colonel Arms. He is all black except the tip of his tail, and that is white.”
“I did not notice the tip of his tail,” said Rose. “He was lying on the ground by the side of the road, pretty near the blacksmith’s shop.”
“Yes,” said Rainbow, “he likes to be about the blacksmith’s shop to tend the horses. Sometimes he holds the horses by the halter while the man shoes them.”
“Well, he was lying on the ground,” continued Rose, “when the boy came by, and the boy began to point his stick at him and hiss; but the dog—Congo you say his name was—did not pay any attention.”
“I should know he would not,” said Rainbow. “He never minds any kind of nonsense like that.”
“He did not pay the least attention,” said Rose. “He looked at the boy with a sort of look of contempt, but did not move. The boy tried him once or twice, but when he found that it did no good, he gave up and went away.”
“I’ll tell you what I would have done if I had been Congo,” said Rainbow, eagerly.
“What?” asked his mother.
“I would have waited a minute or two till the boy hissed at me the second or third time, and then I would have given a sudden spring right at his throat.”
“Oh, sonny!” exclaimed Rose.
“I would not have hurt him, mother,” said Rainbow, interrupting his mother; “I would have been very careful not to hurt him, but I would have knocked him over and frightened him all but to death.”
“Well,” said Rose, drawing a long breath,
“I don’t know but what that would have been right, if you were only sure that you were large enough and strong enough to knock him over without hurting him; but, at any rate, Congo did not do so. He sat perfectly still, and the boy went away.
“Now that is the way that I advise you to act when the boys in Spoutherton try to tease and trouble you. Pay no attention to them, and then they will soon find that there is no sport in it, and so will leave it off. Depend upon it that that is the best way.”
“Unless I am sure I am strong enough to knock them over,” suggested Rainbow.
“Why, you might be strong enough to knock over any one particular boy,” said his mother; “but then all the other boys would take his part, and you would be only one against them all, and there would be a long and troublesome quarrel. So you must not attempt to resist. Even in cases where it would be right for you to resist if you were strong enough, you will not be strong enough, and so you must bear every thing patiently. Pray to God to give you a patient and quiet mind, and trust to him to right you in his own time.”
“Well, mother,” said Rainbow, “I will—I certainly will.”
“And now there is one thing more for me to advise you,” said Rose, “and that is that, after you have been in Southerton a little while, you should sit down some evening and think over all the people that you know, and if you can think of any that you suppose do not like you very well, try to contrive some way to do them some kindness or favor. The Gospel rule is that we must study to show kindness to those that do not show kindness to us.”
“But, mother, I think we ought to show kindness to those that do show kindness to us, or else we shall be ungrateful.”
“Very true,” replied Rose; “but we don’t need any body to advise us about that. We do that naturally and of our own accord. What we need advice about is to try to find out ways of doing good to the evil and unthankful. Sometimes we make them good and thankful by doing so; but that is not the main thing that we do it for. We do it to please God and obey his commands. Whether it makes the people change or not is of very little consequence. God will see what we do, and he will reward us in his own time.”
Rose also charged Rainbow always to read two or three verses in his Testament every night before he went to bed, and to say his prayers.
“You need not read a great deal,” said she. “Two or three verses are enough if you only get them into your heart.
“You see,” continued Rose, in explanation of this expression, “if you read any thing in the Testament, and do not pay any attention to the meaning of it, but only take care to read it well, you only get it into your ears.
“If you think what it means when you red it, then you get it into your mind.
“If you not only think what it means, but love it and determine that you will obey it, then you get it into your heart. Now nothing that you read in teh Testament will do you any real good except what you get into your heart; and if you do really get it into your heart, a very little every day will do.”
“But then I shall learn to read faster if I read more,” said Rainbow.
“Yes,” replied his mother; “I should like to have you read as much as you can. Perhaps Mr. Level will have some interesting book that he will lend you to read. You can read aloud to him when your work is done if he would like to have you. And, if you can get a chance, I hope you will begin to learn to write a little.”
Rainbow said he would. He could get a
smooth board, he said, and write upon it with a piece of chalk.
“Perhaps Mr. Level will have an inkstand and a pen,” said Rose, “and then you could write with ink—if you could only get some paper.”
“I should not dare to write with ink,” said Rainbow, “for fear of making blots.”
“Oh, you will not make blots if you are careful,” said Rose; “and I should like so much to have a letter from you which you wrote yourself, even if it was only two or three words.”
Rainbow and his mother talked in this way until it was bedtime, and then Rainbow went to bed and slept soundly until morning. But Rose slept very little. She was kept awake by thinking of Rainbow’s going away, and of how lonesome it would be for her when he was gone.
When Rainbow went to see Handie on Saturday, in order to make arrangements for the journey as had been agreed, Handie told him that he had concluded that it would be best for them to go in the stage.
“I could go on foot,” said Rainbow; “that would be cheaper.”
“Yes,” said Handie, “we could both go on foot if it was worth while, but it would take two days, while in the stage we shall go through in one night, and our time will be worth more to us than the stage-fare.”
So it was arranged that they were both to meet at the tavern that the stage started from at six o’clock.
“You had better be there by half past five,” said Handie. “It is safer to be on the spot half an hour too soon than five minutes too late, when Trigget drives.”
Rainbow promised to be there in good season, and to bring his bundle with him. The
clothes that he was to carry had been put up carefully by his mother in a bundle.
Rainbow set out from home about four o’clock, in order to go and see some persons who were friends to his mother, and who had charged him to come and bid them good-by before he went. Rose said that she should come to the tavern a little before six o’clock to see him set out.
In the interval between four and six o’clock Rainbow had quite a number of leave-takings, some in the streets and some in the houses of the people where he called for the purpose. For instance, as he was walking along in front of the green, he saw some boys there playing at foot-ball. One of them, who had the foot-ball in his hand, and was just going to kick it into the air, seeing Rainbow going by, paused, with the foot-ball held out before him and his foot drawn back, and called out,
“Ay, ay!” said Rainbow, responding.
“Are you going to Southerton with Handie Level?” said the boy.
“Yes,” said Rainbow.
“When?” asked the boy.
“This afternoon,” said Rainbow.
So saying, Rainbow moved slowly on.
“Rainbow!” said the boy, calling out again.
“Ay, ay!” said Rainbow.
“I never heard that you were a carpenter before,” said the boy.
“No more I ain’t a carpenter,” said Rainbow; and he began to walk along agin.
“Rainbow!” said the boy, called out a third time.
“Ah, ah!” said Rainbow, looking back, and answering louder than before, for he was getting out of hearing.
“Good-by,” said the boy.
“Good-by,” responded Rainbow.
Then all the other boys on the green shouted out good-by in a chorus long and loud.
“And I wish you good luck,” said the boy, after the shouting had ceased.
“Thank you,” said Rainbow.
The boy then gave the foot-ball a prodigiously powerful kick, and Rainbow went on his way.[*]
Some of Rainbow’s farewells were rather more polite than this, though, perhaps, not more sincere, for he was quite a favorite among the boys of the vilalge on account of his good-humor and the kindness of his disposition. He went to several houses in order to bid good-by
[*] See Frontispiece.
to persons who had been kind to him and to his mother. Among others, he went to Mr. James’s. Mr. James had sent word to him by Handie to be sure and come to the office to bid him good-by before he left town, which Rainbow accordingly did. Mr. James gave him a few words of encouragement and good advice, and bade him good-by, shaking hands with him very cordially. He then said that he must go into the house and bid Mrs. James and the children good-by.
Rainbow was a little afraid to do this; but still, as Mr. James requested it, he thought he ought not to decline; so he went to the house. He entered by a little gate at one side, and, walking along a path, he knocked at the kitchen door. A girl who lived there came to the door.
“Ah! Rainbow,” said she, “I heard you had gone away.”
“No,” said Rainbow, “I am going this afternoon.”
“I thought you would not go without coming to bid us good-by,” said the girl. “Walk in.”
So Rainbow went in, and the girl gave him a chair, while she went in to tell Mrs. James that he had come.
Presently she came out again, and said that Mrs. James wished him to go into the parlor.
So Rainbow went into the parlor, where he was very kindly received by Mrs. James, who gave him a seat, and asked him various questions about his journey. At a window at one end of the room was a young lady about eighteen years of age, Mr. James’s daughter, sitting at her work. She had a little work-table near her. Her name was Mary. She asked Rainbow a number of questions too. There was also a little child named Minnie, who was playing about the floor when Rainbow came in, and as soon as he took his seat she came and stood by him, talking with him from time to time, as she could get an opportunity.
“Rainbow,” said she, “is it far where you are going?”
“Yes,” said Rainbow, “it is very far. It is nearly forty miles.”
“Shall you pass by any ponds while you are going there?” asked Minnie.
“Yes,” said Rainbow, “perhaps I shall.”
“Then,” said Minnie, “I wish you would send me back a pond-lily.”
Rainbow had often brought pond-lilies to give to the children in the village, which pleased them very much
“But how could I send it to you?” asked Rainbow.
“Could not you send it by the mail?” said Minnie, looking up into Rainbow’s face inquiringly, and pausing at each suggestion that she made, in order to see by the expression of his countenance whether he considered any of her plans practicable—“or by the telegraph? or by the express?”
“I’ll see,” said Rainbow; “and if I can send you any, I will.”
“And send me one too, Rainbow, at the same time,” said Mary.
Mary was not in earnest in this request, for she knew very well that Rainbow could not get pond-lilies in the night, and that, if he could, there would be no convenient way of sending them.
“But now, Minnie, come here and get this parcel for Rainbow.”
So saying, she took out a small parcel, neatly enveloped in paper and tied up, and when Minnie came she gave it to her.
“It is an inkstand for you,” said Mary, “and some pens, in case you should have any writing to do.”
Minnie brought the parcel and gave it to Rainbow.
MARY AND MINNIE.
[p. 180 blank]
“It is all packed up for you to carry,” said Mary, “so you need not open it until you get to Southerton. The inkstand shuts with a spring. Handie will show you how to open it. You must be careful when you open it, for it is full of ink.”
Rainbow was extremely pleased with this present. He took the parcel, when Minnie brought it to him, and put it in his pocket. Soon after this he bade Mrs. James, Mary, and Minnie good-by, and went away.
“I’ll get them some pond-lilies,” said he to himself, as he went out, “if it is a possible thing.”
About half past five Rainbow went to the stage-office, and a few minutes afterward Handie arrived. He came into his father’s cart. His father drove him. The reason why he came in the cart was on account of his baggage. He had his tool-chest, which was an oblong box or chest filled with tools and painted blue. Then he had also a trunk, which contained his clothes and a few books. The trunk was a wooden one, and was painted black. Handie had reserved a place in it for Rainbow’s bundle.
As soon as the cart stopped in front of the stage-house, Rainbow helped Handie take out the trunk and tool-chest, and set them on the piazza. Mr. Level then drove the cart to one side.
Handie unlocked his trunk and opened it, and put Rainbow’s bundle in at one end where he had reserved a place for it. He then locked the trunk again and said,
“There! now every thing is packed away snug. If we had put your bundle inside the
coach it would have been trampled under people’s feet, and if we had put it on the top it might have jolted off in the night.”
Very soon they saw the stage coming round the corner, the horses prancing and full of spirit. There were several persons, passengers and others, standing by to see. Among others there was Rose herself, who had come, according to her promise, to have a few parting words with Rainbow, and to see him go away. She stood a little apart from the rest, and Rainbow went and stood by her all the time until it was time to go.
“Now, gentlemen,” said Trigget, as he climbed down from his seat, please designate your baggage.”
“Designate!” repeated one of the by-standers. “Trigget is getting learned. He must have been buying a new dictionary.”
“Gentlemen,” said Trigget, “please lose no time in making irrelevant observations, but show me the baggage. I’m behind time.”
“Behind time!” said one of the men. “It wants a full quarter to six.”
“Exactly,” said Trigget, as he took hold of the tunks and began to put them on the rack behind; “and I ought to have twenty minutes to get all ready without any hurrying.”
“But why need you go so very exactly at the time, Trigget?” asked a man who stood lounging against a pillar of the piazza. “You might allow five minutes for accidents to the passengers in coming.”
“Ah!” said Trigget, “I’ve tried that out and out. I used to allow five minutes, and then every body was a little behindhand, and when they came too late, they said, ‘You waited five minutes for such a man, and why could not you wait six minutes for me?’ Then, if I waited six, they’d want me to wait ten. So I came back right square upon the line, and now I don’t wait for any body—not one minute—not a half a minute.”
Talking in this way with the passengers and by-standers, Trigget went on loading the trunks and baggage, and at length all was ready. Handie said that he and Rainbow were going to ride outside if Trigget had no objection. Trigget replied that he had none in the world. There was room for them inside, if they wished to go in, but he would like to have them with him outside for the sake of their company, if they chose to ride there. Handie said they did choose it, for it was a pleasant moonlight summer night, and he wished to see the country. Rainbow wished to see the country too,
and also the horses. He was very fond of horses.
So they climbed up to the top of the stage, while the rest of the passengers took their places inside. All was ready a few minutes before six, and Trigget, with the reins in his hands and the whip-lash in the air, waited for the first stroke of the clock.
“Come, Trigget,” said a man from the inside, calling out through the window, “we are all ready. Start along.”
“Six o’clock is my time,” said Trigget.
“It is six o’clock now,” said the man. “I can see the clock.”
“I don’t go by what you see,” said Trigget. “I go by what I hear.”
A moment afterward the first stroke of the clock was heard. A loud crack instantly resounded from Trigget’s whip, accompanied by a cry of Hupp! to the horses, and almost before the second stroke was heard the stage was under way. Rainbow bowed to his mother to bid her a last good-by, and she bowed to him to return.
Handie and Rainbow had a very pleasant ride, but they met with an accident on the road which led to a singular series of adventures. They, however, at last arrived at Southerton in
safety, and spent two months there in a very agreeable and profitable manner. A particular account of the adventures which they met with on the way to Southerton, and of their doings while there, is given in the next volume of this series, which is entitled Rainbow’s Journey.
It is sufficient to say here that Handie was very much pleased with his farm, and that he and Rainbow had excellent success in putting the buildings in repair. In due time they left Southerton and returned home. Soon afterward Mr. James let the farm to a good tenant, with the intention of laying up the income from it for Handie when he should be twenty-two.
Handie found his father and mother very well and very prosperous on his return home. His father got along successfully with his teaming, and in the course of that summer he laid up a good deal of money. art of this money he expended in additional improvements in the house, but the greater portion of it he reserved in order to buy another horse, for the mill-man’s business was increasing, and Mr. Level had, besides, many other calls, and he was satisfied that he could use two horses to great advantage.
Handie laid up money enough to repay the
two hundred dollars which he had borrowed to buy his time in a little more than one year; and Rainbow, when the transaction was explained to him, and when, moreover, he learned how profitable it was likely to prove to Handie, while at the same time it was very advantageous to his father, determined that, as soon as he was seventeen or eighteen years of age, he would try to make an arrangement to buy his time.
“That will be an excellent plan,” said Handie, when Rainbow suggested this idea to him. “You can do it just as well as not. It is very likely that I shall be able to lend you the money.”