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he couldn't help it; we took the money from him, I and my mother -but it did us no good; it was soon gone, and then she took to thieving to get more, and made me thieve too. It's too late now: but if I'd stayed and broken the stones, it might have been different with me this day; but I was idle, and let the chance slip by me, and I never got another. I wish I could live my life over again, and I would behave differently; but that is impossible. I can now only hope that God will have mercy on me.' In a few minutes the poor wretch breathed his last, presenting a melancholy sight to those who saw him expire.
And such was the dismal end of George Macmahon, the beggar, who refused to work because he could get a shilling a day and his food without the inconvenience of labour.
But John Reid, who reflected that a beggar can never be anything but a beggar, and who thought it must be pleasant to be respected, and wear good clothes, and be called 'Sir, like the gentlefolks,' lived to see his honest ambition realised ; and after passing his existence in peace, plenty, and contentment-having risen step by step, till, at Mr Herriott's death, he was appointed to that gentleman's situation
-died at a good old age, on a bed surrounded by his children and his grandchildren, to whom he left a comfortable provision, and the blessed inheritance of a good name.
THE WIDOW'S SON.
BY MRS STONE, AUTHORESS OF THE 'COTTON LORD.' COME, Susan, do not take on so; it is true the death of your husband is a sad loss; still it is your duty to submit.'
'I know that,' said Susan to her visitor ; 'I know that; but it is main hard. And the new-made widow wrung her hands, and wept in the extremity of grief. Just then a gentleman entered the cottage.
I'm glad you're come, sir, for Susan's in a sad way; mayhap you can make her hear reason.'
She must have time, poor woman ; she must have time. Don't bother her, Betty ; let her weep; it will do her good.
So saying, the gentleman, who was Mr Fenton, the master of the free grammar-school, sat down, took the widow's only child, a boy of about four years, between his knees, and began to talk to the visitor on indifferent topics.
By degrees the paroxysm of the poor woman's grief subsided;
though she still wept, her tears fell calmly, and she was able to look about her, and to pay some attention to the conversation of those who were around.
Mr Fenton, though he appeared to take no notice, had observed her from time to time, quietly waiting till she would be in a 'state to 'hear reason,' as her friend Betty termed it, before he addressed her; and when he did so, to Betty's great surprise, it was to talk hopefully of the future, not to lament over the past.
"What a fine boy Tommy is grown,' said he, stroking the boy's head; 'how old is he now?' 'I am five year old,' said Tommy, quite manfully.
Five years ! why, you're growing quite a man. What do you mean to do with him, Susan ?'
I know not, sir; he's owre young yet for aught. He's a good child, but a sore burden for a lone woman to have to keep
A sore burden ! not at all, if you train him up well, and make him useful. He might do something now.'
No, no; he's owre young yet for aught but play.' 'My good woman, the plays children find for themselves are far harder and more toilsome than any work I would put him to. The habit, the early habit of industry and usefulness, is what you must try to give your child; and that habit alone is the best fortune he can have. But, as I said, he is not too young even now to achieve something useful, as well as to gain a habit of industry. He can pick up stones, I warrant.'
“Yes, to be sure,' said the widow.
'Yes, and I'll be bound he could weed out the groundsel and chickweed in a garden bed, if he were kindly and plainly shewn which they are.' “Yes, he's a sharp boy, and minds what's said to him.'
Sharp and attentive, and five years old ! oh, never tell me he can do nothing. I hear you begin your charring again on Monday, and Mrs Fenton says, that now the school's so full, she can find you almost constant employment at our house. Now, Susan, listen to me. Bring your boy with you; I have a small field I want cleared of stones; I have some rough but very easy and light work in my garden. I will take care that the child is properly set agoing. Thus he will be out of harm's way; he will be acquiring a habit of industry, besides learning his letters; and he will be even earning a trifle towards his own support. You will mind what I say?'
'I will, sir, and I offer you many, many thanks.'
The good effect of this judicious kindness on the poor woman was immediate ; for the remainder of the funeral week, instead of being passed in vain tears and lamentations, was busily occupied in mending up Tommy's clothes, that he might 'go decent o’ Monday,
Monday came, and Tommy was duly initiated into the mystery not
merely of filling a little basket with stones, and emptying it again (for in that he was, like the rest of the world of children, a tolerable proficient), but he was taught always to empty the basket at one spot, so as to make a heap ; and he directly felt a laudable pride in the size of his heap, and worked manfully.
It was no very long time before Tommy became really useful, for he was docile, and attentive, and industrious. The schoolmasterwhose servant, before her marriage, Susan had been, and who respected her for her strict integrity and steady industry-kept, amid his own important avocations, an observant eye on her boy, and took care that some sort of work, suited to his age, should always be found for him. In due time Tommy was elevated to the post of errand-boy and shoe-cleaner to the school, and there was now no need to seek out for work for him ; his own vocation brought him abundance; but the principle of industry was already securely incul cated; the boy never shirked his work.
It was about this time that Mr Fenton frequently observed Tom and his own son, who was a year or two younger, in earnest conference apart from the other boys. Their usual rendezvous was the steps of a dry well in the playground. One day he came upon them quite unexpectedly, and both boys started, whilst his own endeavoured to huddle something into his pocket.
“What is that you are hiding, Harry?' said Mr Fenton. "Give it to me.'
Please, father, it's only this,' said the boy holding out a tattered horn-book. “Why do you hide this, Harry? What are you doing with it?' "Only teaching Tom to read, father.'
"Which is creditable both to you and him. You need not be ashamed of it, either of you. So, you wish to learn to read, Tom?'
'I would give all I have in the world to learn, sir.
"Well, my boy,' said Mr Fenton, smiling, 'it shall not cost you so much as that; nevertheless, you must pay for it.'
Tom stared at the idea of his paying, and so did Harry.
"What I mean is this, Tom: you are hired here to perform certain duties, you are paid for doing them; and I must have none of them omitted, or even neglected. But, by working a little harder, you may contrive to have a spare hour in the afternoon, and that hour you may spend in the school-room. This extra work, Tom, this coming an hour earlier in the morning, or working in your dinnerhour—for one or the other you must do—this is the way in which you must pay for your learning; and, as you grow older, you will find that nothing great or important can be achieved without selfdenial and exertion ; you must begin to practise both now, even to learn to read.'
A proud day was it for Tom Multon, and for his happy mother, when, with newly washed hands, and a face as shining as soap and water could make it, he made his first appearance in the schoolroom as a scholar. He blushed scarlet, and felt painfully confused as he glanced timidly round and saw the jeering and quizzical looks that were cast on him ; but Harry Fenton smiled kindly on him; and the usher, who had been previously instructed by Mr Fenton, called him to a form near himself, and immediately set him to work.
From this day Tom never once missed his afternoon attendance at school ; his time of entering became earlier and earlier, till at last he habitually came in almost as soon as the bell rang. Mr Fenton at first made some remark, as, 'Are you not too early, Tom?' but the invariable answer was, “I've done my work, sir, every bit of it ;' and as the answer was always true, as nothing of his regular employment was ever neglected, the schoolmaster ceased to notice the matter.
He could not shut his eyes, however, to the extraordinary progress Tom made in his schooling. The usher, who began to take quite a pride in the boy, frequently called his attention to the fact, and begged him to enlarge the circumscribed plan which he had laid down for his learning. For a long time Mr Fenton refused to do this. He was afraid of entailing misery on the boy, by giving him tastes beyond what his station in life would permit him to gratify. His mother was earning her bread by the sorest drudgery ; the boy had no prospect but of doing the same ; and he thought that, by enabling him to read English, to write a little, and cast common accounts, he was giving him learning sufficient to make him respectable in his own station of life, and even to elevate him moderately above it. He was not proof, however, against the repeated hints of his usher, the solicitations of his own son, and more especially the patient perseverance of the boy himself, when he found that he had absolutely, against orders, been secretly toiling at the Latin grammar. Moreover, he began to feel that, possessing, from his own position, every facility to help Tom forward, he might himself be doing wrong to repress, determinately, the evidently strong bent of his disposition. The boy was quiet and docile, perseveringly industrious in all he had to do, but above all, fond of his book.
So, having at length made up his own mind, the schoolmaster betook himself to the widow, to induce her to dispense with the present profit of her son's labour, and to let him give himself entirely to the school. She remonstrated sorely : 'she saw no good so much learning would do him ; she was a lone widow ; she had nobody to work for her; and she could not afford to keep a great boy like him in idleness.'
The schoolmaster urged her to try, for her boy's sake, for his future good ; and at length, but not without considerable difficulty, he obtained her concent, promising that she should be at no expense about books,
would endeavour to help her in the matter of clothes.
These latter stipulations Mr Fenton managed in a peculiar way; for, with a heart open as the day to charity, he had not a purse wherewithal to second his wishes.
"I have a great favour to beg of you, Mr Courtney,' said he to a gentleman who had come to take his son home for the holidays.
Pray, name it, Mr Fenton; I shall feel much pleasure in obliging you, if it be in my power.'
'It is quite so, easily so. I have a protegé, a poor lad, humble and industrious, but with such an irrepressible love of books that it is useless to attempt to curb it. I am willing to give him the run of the school ; his mother, a hard-working woman, consents to give up his time; but we are at a loss for clothes and books. Your son is about a year older, and my petition to you is, that I may have Master Edward's cast-off suit, at the end of each half-year, for poor Tom Multon.
Oh, willingly-most willingly.
And perhaps I may be permitted to take Mr Edward's school classics as he relinquishes them : truth compels me to say, they will hardly grace your library shelves after they have done duty here.'
There is hardly need to add, that ready permission was granted, and, moreover, that a lasting interest in his fortunes was thus awakened for Tom in Mr Courtney's breast. Similar applications were made, as they became requisite, by Mr Fenton to other parents, and with the like success. Thus was the errand-boy provided regularly and permanently with clothes, with books, and placed in the path of scholarship. And he became a scholar; not a great, not a shining one, but a safe, a sure, a correct one. He was always assiduous, always attentive, always industrious. If he made no great or sudden steps forward, he never retrograded ; and thus gradually and surely winning his onward way, he was fully qualified in a few years to succeed, in the post of usher, the young man who had so kindly and cordially co-operated with Mr Fenton in his education. And it may be doubtful whether Tom Multon himself, now called Mr Thomas, was more proud of his advancement than was his everkind patron, Mr Fenton, or his fast friend, Harry Fenton, who was now bound for the university.
But there was yet another who, silent, unobserved, unsuspected, watched Tom Multon's progress with a far deeper interest than either his patron, his school-friend, or even she who watched his cradle, and fostered him with a mother's love. This was a young girl of domestic habits and retired manners, gentle and unobtrusive, who had been nurtured from infancy in the house which now, since he assumed the duties of usher, was also his home. Rose Fenton was an orphan, but not a destitute one, for her good uncle and guardian had taken care that the little patrimony bequeathed to her should not diminish in his hands. She was kind and goodtempered, a clever housewife for her years, obliging to those about