WINNING HIS WAY.
CHARLES CARLETON COFFIN,
Author "Story of Liberty," "Boys of '76," "My Days and Nights on the Battlefield," "Our New Way Round the World," "Following the Flag," Etc.
Boston, Mass.: Perry Mason & Co. 1888.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1865, by Charles Carleton Coffin, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts
I. FIRST YEARS 1
II. HARD TIMES 27
III. MERRY TIMES 42
IV. MUSIC AND PAINTING 63
V. THE NIGHT-HAWKS 82
VI. PAUL'S FRIENDS 91
VII. IN A TRAP 103
VIII. KEEPING SCHOOL 116
IX. RALLYING ROUND THE FLAG 126
X. A SOLDIER 144
XI. SCOUTING 156
XII. MISSED FROM HOME 170
XIII. THE MARCH 175
XIV. THE BATTLE 180
XV. SHOWING WHAT HE WAS MADE OF 190
XVI. HONOR TO THE BRAVE 200
XVII. CHICKAMAUGA 207
XVIII. HOW HE LIVED IN THE MEMORY OF HIS FRIENDS 211
XIX. WHAT BECAME OF A TRAITOR 217
XX. DARK DAYS 224
XXI. CONSECRATION 233
XXII. UNDER THE OLD FLAG 241
XXIII. THE JAWS OF DEATH 248
XXIV. HOME 253
WINNING HIS WAY.
Many years ago, before railroads were thought of, a company of Connecticut farmers, who had heard marvellous stories of the richness of the land in the West, sold their farms, packed up their goods, bade adieu to their friends, and with their families started for Ohio.
After weeks of travel over dusty roads, they came to a beautiful valley, watered by a winding river. The hills around were fair and sunny. There were groves of oaks, and maples, and lindens. The air was fragrant with honeysuckle and jasmine. There was plenty of game. The swift-footed deer browsed the tender grass upon the hills. Squirrels chattered in the trees and the ringdoves cooed in the depths of the forest. The place was so fertile and fair, so pleasant and peaceful, that the emigrants made it their home, and called it New Hope.
They built a mill upon the river. They laid out a wide, level street, and a public square, erected a school-house, and then a church. One of their number opened a store. Other settlers came, and, as the years passed by, the village rang with the shouts of children pouring from the school-house for a frolic upon the square. Glorious times they had beneath the oaks and maples.
One of the jolliest of the boys was Paul Parker, only son of Widow Parker, who lived in a little old house, shaded by a great maple, on the outskirts of the village. Her husband died when Paul was in his cradle. Paul's grandfather was still living. The people called him "Old Pensioner Parker," for he fought at Bunker Hill, and received a pension from government. He was hale and hearty, though more than eighty years of age.
The pension was the main support of the family. They kept a cow, a pig, turkeys, and chickens, and, by selling milk and eggs, which Paul carried to their customers, they brought the years round without running in debt. Paul's pantaloons had a patch on each knee, but he laughed just as loud and whistled just as cheerily for all that.
In summer he went barefoot. He did not have to turn out at every mud-puddle, and he could plash into the mill-pond and give the frogs a crack over the head without stopping to take off stockings and shoes. Paul did not often have a dinner of roast beef, but he had an abundance of bean porridge, brown bread, and milk.
"Bean porridge is wholesome food, Paul," said his grandfather. "When I was a boy we used to say,—
'Bean porridge hot, Bean porridge cold,— Bean porridge best Nine days old.'
The wood-choppers in winter used to freeze it into cakes and carry it into the woods. Many a time I have made a good dinner on a chunk of frozen porridge."
The Pensioner remembered what took place in his early years, but he lost his reckoning many times a day upon what was going on in the town. He loved to tell stories, and Paul was a willing listener. Pleasant winter-evenings they had in the old kitchen, the hickory logs blazing on the hearth, the tea-kettle singing through its nose, the clock ticking soberly, the old Pensioner smoking his pipe in the arm-chair, Paul's mother knitting,—Bruno by Paul's side, wagging his tail and watching Muff in the opposite corner rolling her great round yellow eyes. Bruno was always ready to give Muff battle whenever Paul tipped him the wink to pitch in.
The Pensioner's stories were of his boyhood,—how he joined the army, and fought the battles of the Revolution. Thus his story ran.
"I was only a little bigger than you are, Paul," he said, "when the red-coats began the war at Lexington. I lived in old Connecticut then; that was a long time before we came out here. The meeting-house bell rung, and the people blew their dinner-horns, till the whole town was alarmed. I ran up to the meeting-house and found the militia forming. The men had their guns and powder-horns. The women were at work melting their pewter porringers into bullets. I wasn't o'd enough to train, but I could fire a gun and bring down a squirrel from the top of a tree. I wanted to go and help drive the red-coats into the ocean. I asked mother if I might. I was afraid that she didn't want me to go. 'Why, Paul,' says she, 'you haven't any clothes.' 'Mother,' says I, 'I can shoot a red-coat just as well as any of the men can.' Says she, 'Do you want to go, Paul?' 'Yes, mother.' 'Then you shall go; I'll fix you out,' she said. As I hadn't any coat she took a meal-bag, cut a hole for my head in the bottom, and made holes for my arms in the sides, cut off a pair of her own stocking-legs, and sewed them on for sleeves, and I was rigged. I took the old gun which father carried at Ticonderoga, and the powder-horn, and started. There is the gun and the horn, Paul, hanging up over the fireplace.
"The red-coats had got back to Boston, but we cooped them up. Our company was in Colonel Knowlton's regiment. I carried the flag, which said, Qui transtulit sustinet. I don't know anything about Latin, but those who do say it means that God who hath transported us hither will sustain us; and that is true, Paul. He sustained us at Bunker Hill, and we should have held it if our powder had not given out. Our regiment was by a rail-fence on the northeast side of the hill. Stark, with his New Hampshire boys, was by the river. Prescott was in the redoubt on the top of the hill. Old Put kept walking up and down the lines. This is the way it was, Paul."
The Pensioner laid aside his pipe, bent forward, and traced upon the hearth the positions of the troops.
"There is the redoubt; here is the rail-fence; there is where the red-coats formed their lines. They came up in front of us here. We didn't fire a gun till they got close to us. I'll show you how the fire ran down the line."
He took down the horn, pulled out the stopper, held his finger over the tip, and made a trail of powder.
"There, Paul, that is by the fence. As the red-coats came up, some of us began to be uneasy and wanted to fire; but Old Put kept saying, 'Don't fire yet! Wait till you can see the white of their eyes! Aim at their belts!'"
While the Pensioner was saying this, he took the tongs and picked a live coal from the fire.
"They came up beautifully, Paul,—the tall grenadiers and light-infantry in their scarlet coats, and the sun shining on their gun-barrels and bayonets. They wer'n't more than ten rods off when a soldier on top of the hill couldn't stand it any longer. Pop! went his gun, and the fire ran down the hill quicker than scat! just like this!"
He touched the coal to the powder. There was a flash, a puff of smoke rising to the ceiling, and filling the room.
"Hooray!" shouted Paul, springing to his feet. Muff went with a jump upon the bureau in the corner of the room, her tail as big as Paul's arm, and her back up. Bruno was after her in a twinkling, bouncing about, barking, and looking round to Paul to see if it was all right.
"There, grandpa, you have made a great smut on the hearth," said Mrs. Parker, who kept her house neat and tidy, though it was a crazy old affair.
"Well, mother, I thought it would please Paul."
"S-s-s-s-si'c!" Paul made a hiss which Bruno understood, for he went at Muff more fiercely. It was glorious to see Muff spit fire, and hear her growl low and deep like distant thunder. Paul would not have Muff hurt for anything, but he loved to see Bruno show his teeth at her, for she was gritty when waked up.
"Be still, Paul, and let Muff alone," said Paul's mother.
"Come, Bruno, she ain't worth minding," said Paul.
"They have got good courage, both of 'em," said the Pensioner; "and courage is one half of the battle, and truth and honor is the other half. Paul, I want you to remember that. It will be worth more than a fortune to you. I don't mean that cats and dogs know much about truth and honor, and I have seen some men who didn't know much more about those qualities of character than Muff and Bruno; but what I have said, Paul, is true for all that. They who win success in life are those who love truth, and who follow what is noble and good. No matter how brave a man may be, if he hasn't these qualities he won't succeed. He may get rich, but that won't amount to much. Success, Paul, is to have an unblemished character,—to be true to ourselves, to our country, and to God."
He went on with his story, telling how the British troops ran before the fire of the Yankees,—how they re-formed and came on a second time, and were repulsed again,—how General Clinton went over from Boston with reinforcements,—how Charlestown was set on fire,—how the flames leaped from house to house, and curled round the spire of the church,—how the red-coats advanced a third time beneath the great black clouds of smoke,—how the ammunition of the Yankees gave out, and they were obliged to retreat,—how General Putnam tried to rally them,—how they escaped across Charlestown Neck, where the cannon-balls from the British floating batteries raked the ranks! He made it all so plain, that Paul wished he had been there.
The story completed, Paul climbed the creaking stairway to his narrow chamber, repeated his evening prayer, and scrambled into bed.
"He is a jolly boy," said the Pensioner to Paul's mother, as Paul left the room.
"I don't know what will become of him," she replied, "he is so wild and thoughtless. He leaves the door open, throws his cap into the corner, sets Bruno and Muff to growling, stops to play on his way home from school, sings, whistles, shouts, hurrahs, and tears round like all possessed."
If she could have looked into Paul's desk at school, she would have found whirligigs, tops, pin-boxes, nails, and no end of strings and dancing dandy-jims.
"Paul is a rogue," said the Pensioner. "You remember how he got on top of the house awhile ago and frightened us out of our wits by shouting 'Fire! fire!' down the chimney; how we ran out to see about it; how I asked him 'Where?' and says he, 'Down there in the fireplace, grandpa.' He is a chip of the old block. I used to do just so. But there is one good thing about him, he don't do mean tricks. He don't bend up pins and put them in the boys' seats, or tuck chestnut-burs into the girls' hoods. I never knew him to tell a lie. He will come out all right."
"I hope so," said Mrs. Parker.
Paul could look through the crevices between the shingles, and the cracks in the walls, and behold the stars gleaming from the unfathomable spaces. He wondered how far they were away. He listened to the wind chanting a solemn dirge, filling his soul with longings for he knew not what. He thought over his grandfather's stories, and the words he had spoken about courage, truth, and honor, till a shingle clattering in the wind took up the refrain, and seemed to say, Truth and honor,—truth and honor,—truth and honor,—so steadily and pleasantly, that while he listened the stars faded from his sight, and he sailed away into dream-land.
Paul was twelve years old, stout, hearty, and healthy,—full of life, and brimming over with fun. Once he set the village in a roar. The people permitted their pigs to run at large. The great maple in front of the Pensioner's house was cool and shady,—a delightful place for the pigs through the hot summer days.
Mr. Chrome, the carriage-painter, lived across the road. He painted a great many wagons for the farmers,—the wheels yellow, the bodies blue, green, or red, with scrolls and flowers on the sides. Paul watched him by the hour, and sometimes made up his mind to be a carriage-painter when he became a man.
"Mr. Chrome," said Paul, "don't you think that those pigs would look better if they were painted?"
"I should like to see how they would look painted as you paint your wagons."
Mr. Chrome laughed at the ludicrous fancy. He loved fun, and was ready to help carry out the freak.
"Well, just try your hand on improving nature," he said.
Paul went to work. Knowing that pigs like to have their backs scratched, he had no difficulty in keeping them quiet. To one he gave green legs, blue ears, red rings round its eyes, and a red tail. Another had one red leg, one blue, one yellow, one green, with red and blue stripes and yellow stars on its body. "I will make him a star-spangled pig," Paul shouted to Mr. Chrome. Another had a green head, yellow ears, and a red body. Bruno watched the proceedings, wagging his tail, looking now at Paul and then at the pigs, ready to help on the fun.
"Si'c!—si'c!—si'c!" said Paul. Bruno was upon them with a bound. Away they capered, with him at their heels. As soon as they came into the sunshine the spirits of turpentine in the paint was like fire to their flesh. Faster they ran up the street squealing, with Bruno barking behind. Mr. Chrome laughed till the tears ran down his cheeks. All the dogs, great and small, joined Bruno in chase of the strange game. People came out from the stores, windows were thrown up, and all hands—men, women, and children—ran to see what was the matter, laughing and shouting, while the pigs and dogs ran round the square.
"Paul Parker did that, I'll bet," said Mr. Leatherby, the shoemaker, peeping out from his shop. "It is just like him."
An old white horse, belonging to Mr. Smith, also sought the shade of the maple before the Pensioner's house. Bruno barked at him by the hour, but the old horse would not move for anything short of a club or stone.
"I'll see if I can't get rid of him," said Paul to himself.
He went into the barn, found a piece of rope, tied up a little bundle of hay, got a stick five or six feet long, and some old harness-straps. In the evening, when it was so dark that people could not see what he was up to, he caught the old horse, laid the stick between his ears and strapped it to his neck, and tied the hay to the end of the stick, in such a way that it hung a few inches beyond old Whitey's nose. The old horse took a step ahead to nibble the hay,—another,—another,—another! "Don't you wish you may get it?" said Paul. Tramp,—tramp,—tramp. Old Whitey went down the road. Paul heard him go across the bridge by the mill, and up the hill the other side of the brook.
"Go it, old fellow!" he shouted, then listened again. It was a calm night, and he could just hear old Whitey's feet,—tramp,—tramp,—tramp.
The next morning the good people of Fairview, ten miles from New Hope, laughed to see an old white horse, with a bundle of hay a few inches beyond his nose, passing through the place.
Mr. Smith, after breakfast, started out to hunt up old Whitey. He often found him under the maple in front of the Pensioner's house. Paul was swinging on the gate. "Have you seen my horse?" Mr. Smith asked.
"Yes, sir, I saw him going down towards the bridge last evening," Paul replied, chuckling to himself.
Mr. Smith went down to the mill and inquired. The miller heard a horse go over the bridge. The farmer on the other side heard a horse go up the hill. Mr. Smith looked at the tracks. They were old Whitey's, who had a broken shoe on his left hind foot. He followed on. "I never knew him to go away before," he said to himself, as he walked hour after hour, seeing the tracks all the way to Fairview.
"Have you seen a white horse about here?" he asked of one of the villagers.
"Yes, sir; there was one here this morning trying to overtake a bundle of hay," the man replied, laughing. "There he is now!" he added.
Mr. Smith looked up and saw old Whitey, who had turned about, and was reaching forward to get a nibble of the hay. Mr. Smith felt like being angry, but the old horse was walking so soberly and earnestly that he couldn't help laughing.
"That is some of Paul's doings, I know. I'll give him a blessing when I get back."
It was noon before Mr. Smith reached New Hope. Paul and Bruno were sitting beneath the maple.
"Where did you find old Whitey?" Paul asked.
"You was the one who did it, you little rascal!"
"You know what. You have made me walk clear to Fairview. I have a mind to horsewhip you."
Paul laughed to think that the old horse had tramped so far, though he was sorry that Mr. Smith had been obliged to walk that distance.
"I didn't mean any harm, Mr. Smith; but old Whitey has made our dooryard his stamping-place all summer, and I thought I would see if I could get rid of him."
"Well, sir, if you do it again I'll trounce you!" said Mr. Smith as he rode away, his anger coming up.
"Wouldn't it be better for you to put him in a pasture, Mr. Smith? Then he wouldn't trouble us," said Paul, who knew that Mr. Smith had no right to let old Whitey run at large. Paul was not easily frightened when he had right on his side. The people in the stores and at the tavern had a hearty laugh when they heard how old Whitey went to Fairview.
Mr. Cipher taught the village school. He was tall, slim, thin-faced, with black eyes deeply set in his head, and a long, hooked nose like an eagle's bill. He wore a loose swallow-tailed coat with bright brass buttons, and pants which were several inches too short. The Committee employed him, not because he was a superior teacher, but they could get him for twelve dollars a month, while Mr. Rudiment, who had been through college, and who was known to be an excellent instructor, asked sixteen.
There was a crowd of roistering boys and rosy-cheeked girls, who made the old school-house hum like a beehive. Very pleasant to the passers-by was the music of their voices. At recess and at noon they had leap-frog and tag. Paul was in a class with Philip Funk, Hans Middlekauf, and Michael Murphy. There were other boys and girls of all nationalities. Paul's ancestors were from Connecticut, while Philip's father was a Virginian. Hans was born in Germany, and Michael in Ireland. Philip's father kept a grocery, and sold sugar, molasses, tobacco, and whiskey. He was rich, and Philip wore good clothes and calf-skin boots. Paul could get his lessons very quick whenever he set about them in earnest, but he spent half his time in inventing fly-traps, making whirligigs, or drawing pictures on his slate. He had an accurate eye, and could draw admirably. Philip could get his lessons also if he chose to apply himself, but it was a great deal easier to have some one work out the problems in arithmetic than to do them himself.
"Here, Paul, just help me; that is a good fellow," he said, coaxingly.
It was at recess.
"No; Cipher has forbid it. Each one must do his own work," said Paul.
"If you will do it, I will give you a handful of raisins," said Philip, who usually had his pockets full of raisins, candy, or nuts.
"It wouldn't be right."
"Come, just do this one; Cipher never will know it."
"No!" Paul said it resolutely.
"You are a mean, sneaking fellow," said Philip.
Philip was a year older than Paul. He had sandy hair, white eyelashes, and a freckled face. He carried a watch, and always had money in his pocket. Paul, on the other hand, hardly ever had a cent which he could call his own. His clothes were worn till they were almost past mending.
"Rag-tag has got a hole in his trousers," said Philip to the other boys.
Paul's face flushed. He wanted to knock Phillip's teeth down his throat. He knew that his mother had hard work to clothe him, and felt the insult keenly. He went into the school-house, choked his anger down, and tried to forget all about it by drawing a picture of the master. It was an excellent likeness,—his spindle legs, great feet, short pants, loose coat, sunken eyes, hooked nose, thin face, and long bony fingers.
Philip sat behind Paul. Instead of studying his lesson, he was planning how to get Paul into trouble. He saw the picture. Now was his time. He giggled aloud. Mr. Cipher looked up in astonishment.
"What are you laughing at, Master Funk?"
"At what Paul is doing."
Paul hustled his slate into his desk.
"Let me see what you have here," said Cipher, walking up to Paul, who spat on his fingers, and ran his hand into the desk, to rub out the drawing; but he felt that it would be better to meet his punishment boldly than to have the school think he was a sneak. He laid the slate before the master without a line effaced.
"Giving your attention to drawing, are you, Master Paul?" said Cipher. His eyes flashed. He knit his brows. The blood rushed to his cheeks. There was a popping up of heads all over the school-room to get a sight of the picture.
The boys laughed aloud, and there was a tittering among the girls, which made Cipher very angry. "Silence!" he roared, and stamped upon the floor so savagely that the windows rattled. "Come out here, sir. I'll give you a drawing-lesson of another sort." He seized Paul by the collar, and threw him into the space in front of his own desk. "Hold out your hand."
Paul felt that he was about to receive a tremendous thrashing; but he determined that he would not flinch. He held out his right hand, and received the blow from a heavy ferule. His hand felt as if he had been struck by a piece of hot iron.
"The other, sir."
Whack! it fell, a blow which made the flesh purple. There was an Oh! upon his tongue; but he set his teeth together, and bit his lips till they bled, and so smothered it. Another blow,—another,—another. They were hard to bear; but his teeth were set like a vice. There was a twitching of the muscles round his lips; he was pale. When the blows fell, he held his breath, but did not snivel.
"I'll see if I can't bring you to your feeling, you good-for-nothing scapegrace," said the master, mad with passion, and surprised that Paul made no outcry. He gave another round, bringing the ferule down with great force. Blood began to ooze from the pores. The last blow spattered the drops around the room. Cipher came to his senses. He stopped.
"Are you sorry, sir?"
"I don't know whether I am or not. I didn't mean any harm. I suppose I ought not to have drawn it in school; but I didn't do it to make fun. I drew you just as you are," said Paul,—his voice trembling a little in spite of his efforts to control it.
The master could not deny that it was a perfect likeness. He was surprised at Paul's cleverness at drawing, and for the first time in his life saw that he cut a ridiculous figure wearing that long, loose, swallow-tailed coat, with great, flaming brass buttons, and resolved upon the spot that his next coat should be a frock, and that he would get a longer pair of pants.
"You may take your seat, sir!" he said, puzzled to know whether to punish Paul still more, and compel him to say that he was sorry, or whether to accept the explanations, and apologize for whipping him so severely.
Paul sat down. His hands ached terribly; but what troubled him most was the thought that he had been whipped before the whole school. All the girls had witnessed his humiliation. There was one among them,—Azalia Adams,—who stood at the head of Paul's class, the best reader and speller in school. She had ruby lips, and cheeks like roses; the golden sunlight falling upon her chestnut hair crowned her with glory; deep, thoughtful, and earnest was the liquid light of her hazel eyes; she was as lovely and beautiful as the flower whose name she bore. Paul had drawn her picture many times,—sometimes bending over her task, sometimes as she sat, unmindful of the hum of voices around her, looking far away into a dim and distant dream-land. He never wearied of tracing the features of one so fair and good as she. Her laugh was as musical as a mountain-brook; and in the church on Sunday, when he heard her voice sweetly and melodiously mingling with the choir, he thought of the angels,—of her as in heaven and he on earth.
"Run home, sonny, and tell your marm that you got a licking," said Philip when school was out.
Paul's face became livid. He would have doubled his fist and given Philip a blow in the face, but his palms were like puff-balls. There was an ugly feeling inside, but just then a pair of bright hazel eyes, almost swimming with tears, looked into his own. "Don't mind it, Paul!" said Azalia.
The pain was not half so hard to bear after that. He wanted to say, "I thank you," but did not know how. Till then his lips had hardly quivered, and he had not shed a tear; now his eyes became moist; one great drop rolled down his cheek, but he wiped it off with his coat-sleeve, and turned away, for fear that Azalia would think him a baby.
On his way home the thought uppermost in his mind was, "What will mother say?" Why tell her? Would it not be better to keep the matter to himself? But then he remembered that she had said, "Paul, I shall expect you to tell me truthfully all that happens to you at school." He loved his mother. She was one of the best mothers that ever lived, working for him day and night. How could he abuse such confidence as she had given him? He would not violate it. He would not be a sneak.
His mother and the Pensioner were sitting before the fire as he entered the house. She welcomed him with a smile,—a beautiful smile it was, for she was a noble woman, and Paul was her darling, her pride, the light, joy, and comfort of her life.
"Well, Paul, how do you get on at school?" his grandfather asked.
"I got a whipping to-day." It was spoken boldly and manfully.
"What! My son got a whipping!" his mother exclaimed.
"I am astonished. Come here, and tell me all about it."
Paul stood by her side and told the story,—how Philip Funk tried to bribe him, how he called him names,—how, having got his lessons, he made a picture of the master. "Here it is, mother." He took his slate from his little green bag. The picture had not been effaced. His mother looked at it and laughed, notwithstanding her efforts to keep sober, for it was such a perfect likeness. She had an exquisite sense of the ludicrous, and Paul was like her. She was surprised to find that he could draw so well.
"We will talk about the matter after supper," she said. She had told Paul many times, that, if he was justly punished at school, he must expect a second punishment at home; but she wanted to think awhile before deciding what to do. She was pleased to know that her boy could not be bribed to do what his conscience told him he ought not to do, and that he was manly and truthful. She would rather follow him to the church-yard and lay him in his grave beneath the bending elms, than to have him untruthful or wicked.
The evening passed away. Paul sat before the fire, looking steadily into the coals. He was sober and thoughtful, wondering what his mother would say at last. The clock struck nine. It was his bedtime. He went and stood by her side once more. "You are not angry with me, mother, are you?"
"No, my son. I do not think that you deserved so severe a punishment. I am rejoiced to know that you are truthful, and that you despise a mean act. Be always as you have been to-night in telling the truth, and I never shall be angry with you."
He threw his arms around her neck, and gave way to tears, such as Cipher could not extort by his pounding. She gave him a good-night kiss,—so sweet that it seemed to lie upon his lips all through the night.
"God bless you, Paul," said the Pensioner.
Paul climbed the creaking stairs, and knelt with an overflowing heart to say his evening prayer. He spoke the words earnestly when he asked God to take care of his mother and grandfather. He was very happy. He looked out through the crevices in the walls, and saw the stars and the moon flooding the landscape with silver light. There was sweet music in the air,—the merry melody of the water murmuring by the mill, the cheerful chirping of the crickets, and the lullaby of the winds, near at hand and far away, putting him in mind of the choirs on earth and the choirs in heaven. "Don't mind it, Paul!" were the words they sung, so sweetly and tenderly that for many days they rang in his ears.
How lonesome the days when dear friends leave us to return no more, whom we never shall see again on earth, who will send us no message or letter of love from the far distant land whither they have gone! It tries our hearts and brings tears to our eyes to lay them in the ground. But shall we never, never see them again? Yes, when we have taken the same journey, when we have closed our eyes on earth and opened them in heaven.
As the months rolled by, the Pensioner's eyes grew dim. He became weak and feeble. "The Pensioner won't stand it long," the people said.
He did not rise one morning when breakfast was ready.
"Come, grandpa," said Paul, opening the bedroom door and calling him; but there was no reply. He lay as if asleep; but his brow was cold, and his heart had stopped beating. He had died calmly and peacefully, and was forever at rest.
It was a sad day to Paul when he followed the body of his dear old grandfather to the grave; but when he stood by his coffin, and looked for the last time upon his grandfather's face, and saw how peaceful it was and how pleasant the smile which rested upon it, as if he was beholding beautiful scenes,—when Paul remembered how good he was, he could not feel it in his soul to say, "Come back, Grandpa"; he would be content as it was. But the days were long and dreary, and so were the nights. Many the hours which Paul passed lying awake in his bed, looking through the crevices of the poor old house, and watching the stars and the clouds as they went sailing by. So he was sailing on, and the question would come up, Whither? He listened to the water falling over the dam by the mill, and to the chirping of the crickets, and the sighing of the wind, and the church-bell tolling the hours: they were sweet, yet mournful and solemn sounds. Tears stood in his eyes and rolled down his cheeks, as he thought that he and his mother were on earth, and his father and grandfather were praising God in the heavenly choirs. But he resolved to be good, to take care of his mother, and be her comfort and joy.
Hard times came on. How to live was the great question; for now that his grandfather was gone, they could have the pension no longer. The neighbors were very kind. Sometimes Mr. Middlekauf, Hans's father, who had a great farm, left a bag of meal for them when he came into the village. There was little work for Paul to do in the village; but he kept their own garden in good trim,—the onion-bed clear of weeds, and the potatoes well hilled. Very pleasant it was to work there, where the honey-bees hummed over the beds of sage, and among his mother's flowers, and where bumble-bees dusted their yellow jackets in the hollyhocks. Swallows also built their nests under the eaves of the house, and made the days pleasant with their merry twittering.
The old Pensioner had been a land surveyor. The compass which he used was a poor thing; but he had run many lines with it through the grand old forest. One day, as Paul was weeding the onions, it occurred to him that he might become a surveyor; so he went into the house, took the compass from its case, and sat down to study it. He found his grandfather's surveying-book, and began to study that. Some parts were hard and dry; but having resolved to master it, he was not the boy to give up a good resolution. It was not long before he found out how to run a line, how to set off angles, and how to ascertain the distance across a river or pond without measuring it. He went into the woods, and stripped great rolls of birch bark from the trees, carried them home, spread them out on the table, and plotted his lines with his dividers and ruler. He could not afford paper. He took great pleasure in making a sketch of the ground around the house, the garden, the orchard, the field, the road, and the river.
The people of New Hope had long been discussing the project of building a new road to Fairview, which would cross the pond above the mill. But there was no surveyor in the region to tell them how long the bridge must be which they would have to build.
"We will send up a kite, and thus get a string across the pond," said one of the citizens.
"I can ascertain the distance easier than that," said Paul.
Mr. Pimpleberry, the carpenter, who was to build the bridge, laughed, and looked with contempt upon him, Paul thought, because he was barefoot and had a patch on each knee.
"Have you ever measured it, Paul?" Judge Adams asked.
"No, sir; but I will do so just to let Mr. Pimpleberry see that I can do it."
He ran into the house, brought out the compass, went down to the edge of the pond, drove a small stake in the ground, set his compass over it, and sighted a small oak-tree upon the other side of the pond. It happened that the tree was exactly south from the stake; then he turned the sights of his compass so that they pointed exactly east and west. Then he took Mr. Pimpleberry's ten-foot pole, and measured out fifty feet toward the west, and drove another stake. Then he set his compass there, and took another sight at the small oak-tree across the pond. It was not south now, but several degrees east of south. Then he turned his compass so that the sights would point just the same number of degrees to the east of north.
"Now, Mr. Pimpleberry," said Paul, "I want you to stand out there, and hold your ten-foot pole just where I tell you, putting yourself in range with the stake I drove first and the tree across the pond."
Mr. Pimpleberry did as he was desired.
"Drive a stake where your pole stands," said Paul.
Mr. Pimpleberry did so.
"Now measure the distance from the one you have just driven to my first stake, and that will be the distance across the pond," said Paul.
"I don't believe it," said Mr. Pimpleberry.
"Paul is right," said Judge Adams. "I understand the principle. He has done it correctly."
The Judge was proud of him. Mr. Pimpleberry and Mr. Funk, and several other citizens, were astonished; for they had no idea that Paul could do anything of the kind. Notwithstanding Paul had given the true distance, he received no thanks from any one; yet he didn't care for that; for he had shown Mr. Pimpleberry that he could do it, and that was glory enough.
Paul loved fun as well as ever. Rare times he had at school. One windy day, a little boy, when he entered the school-room, left the door open. "Go back and shut the door," shouted Mr. Cipher, who was very irritable that morning. Another boy entered, and left it open. Mr. Cipher was angry, and spoke to the whole school: "Any one who comes in to-day and does not shut the door will get a flogging. Now remember!" Being very awkward in his manners, inefficient in government, and shallow-brained and vain, he commanded very little respect from the scholars.
"Boys, there is a chance for us to have a jolly time with Cipher," said Paul at recess.
"What is it?" Hans Middlekauf asked, ready for fun of any sort. The boys gathered round, for they knew that Paul was a capital hand in inventing games.
"You remember what Cipher said about leaving the door open."
"Well, what of it?" Hans Middlekauf asked.
"Let every one of us show him that we can obey him. When he raps for us to go in, I want you all to form in line. I'll lead off, go in and shut the door; you follow next, Hans, and be sure and shut the door; you come next, Philip; then Michael, and so on,—every one shutting the door. If you don't, remember that Cipher has promised to flog you."
The boys saw through the joke, and laughed heartily. "Jingo, that is a good one, Paul. Cipher will be as mad as a March hare. I'll make the old door rattle," said Hans.
Rap—rap—rap—rap! went the master's ruler upon the window.
"Fall into line, boys," said Paul. They obeyed orders as if he were a general. "Now remember, every one of you, to shut the door just as soon as you are in. Do it quick, and take your seats. Don't laugh, but be as sober as deacons." There was giggling in the ranks. "Silence!" said Paul. The boys smoothed their faces. Paul opened the door, stepped in, and shut it in an instant,—slam! Hans opened it,—slam! it went, with a jar which made the windows rattle. Philip followed,—slam! Michael next,—bang! it went, jarring the house.
"Let the door be open," said Cipher; but Michael was in his seat; and—bang! again,—slam!—bang!—slam!—bang! it went.
"Let it be open, I say!" he roared, but the boys outside did not hear him, and it kept going,—slam!—slam!—slam!—bang!—bang!—bang!—till the fiftieth boy was in.
"You started that, sir," Cipher said, addressing Paul, for he had discovered that Paul Parker loved fun, and was a leading spirit among the boys.
"I obeyed your orders, sir," Paul replied ready to burst into a roar at the success of his experiment.
"Did you not tell the boys to slam the door as hard as they could?"
"No, sir. I told them to remember what you had said, and that, if they didn't shut the door, they would get a flogging."
"That is just what he said, Master," said Hans Middlekauf, brimming over with fun. Cipher could not dispute it. He saw that they had literally obeyed his orders, and that he had been outwitted. He did not know what to do; and being weak and inefficient, did nothing.
Paul loved hunting and fishing; on Saturday afternoons he made the woods ring with the crack of his grandfather's gun, bringing squirrels from the tallest trees, and taking quails upon the wing. He was quick to see, and swift to take aim. He was cool of nerve, and so steady of aim that he rarely missed. It was summer, and he wore no shoes. He walked so lightly that he scarcely rustled a leaf. The partridges did not see him till he was close upon them, and then, before they could rise from their cover flash!—bang!—and they went into his bag.
One day as he was on his return from the woods, with the gun upon his shoulder, and the powder-horn at his side, he saw a gathering of people in the street. Men, women, and children were out,—the women without bonnets. He wondered what was going on. Some women were wringing their hands; and all were greatly excited.
"O dear, isn't it dreadful!" "What will become of us?" "The Lord have mercy upon us!"—were the expressions which he heard. Then they wrung their hands again, and moaned.
"What is up?" he asked of Hans Middlekauf.
"Haven't you heard?"
"No, what is it?"
"Why, there is a big black bull-dog, the biggest that ever was, that has run mad. He has bitten ever so many other dogs, and horses, sheep, and cattle. He is as big as a bear, and froths at the mouth. He is the savagest critter that ever was," said Hans in a breath.
"Why don't somebody kill him?"
"They are afraid of him," said Hans.
"I should think they might kill him," Paul replied.
"I reckon you would run as fast as anybody else, if he should show himself round here," said Hans.
"There he is! Run! run! run for your lives!" was the sudden cry.
Paul looked up the street, and saw a very large bull-dog coming upon the trot. Never was there such a scampering. People ran into the nearest houses, pellmell. One man jumped into his wagon, lashed his horse into a run, and went down the street, losing his hat in his flight, while Hans Middlekauf went up a tree.
"Run, Paul! Run! he'll bite you!" cried Mr. Leatherby from the window of his shoe-shop. People looked out from the windows and repeated the cry, a half-dozen at once; but Paul took no notice of them. Those who were nearest him heard the click of his gun-lock. The dog came nearer, growling, and snarling, his mouth wide open, showing his teeth, his eyes glaring, and white froth dripping from his lips. Paul stood alone in the street. There was a sudden silence. It was a scene for a painter,—a barefoot boy in patched clothes, with an old hat on his head, standing calmly before the brute whose bite was death in its most terrible form. One thought had taken possession of Paul's mind, that he ought to kill the dog.
Nearer, nearer, came the dog; he was not a rod off. Paul had read that no animal can withstand the steady gaze of the human eye. He looked the dog steadily in the face. He held his breath. Not a nerve trembled. The dog stopped, looked at Paul a moment, broke into a louder growl, opened his jaws wider, his eyes glaring more wildly, and stepped slowly forward. Now or never, Paul thought, was his time. The breach of the gun touched his shoulder; his eye ran along the barrel,—bang! the dog rolled over with a yelp and a howl, but was up again, growling and trying to get at Paul, who in an instant seized his gun by the barrel, and brought the breech down upon the dog's skull, giving him blow after blow.
"Kill him! kill him!" shouted the people from the windows.
"Give it to him! Mash his head!" cried Hans from the tree.
The dog soon became a mangled and bloody mass of flesh and bones. The people came out from their houses.
"That was well done for a boy," said Mr. Funk.
"Or for a man either," said Mr. Chrome, who came up and patted Paul on his back.
"I should have thrown my lapstone at him, if I could have got my window open," said Mr. Leatherby. Mr. Noggin, the cooper, who had taken refuge in Leatherby's shop, afterwards said that Leatherby was frightened half to death, and kept saying, "Just as like as not he will make a spring and dart right through the window!"
"Nobly, bravely done, Paul," said Judge Adams. "Let me shake hands with you, my boy." He and Mrs. Adams and Azalia had seen it all from their parlor window.
"O Paul, I was afraid he would bite and kill you, or that your gun would miss fire. I trembled all over just like a leaf," said Azalia, still pale and trembling. "O, I am so glad you have killed him!" She looked up into his face earnestly, and there was such a light in her eyes, that Paul was glad he had killed the dog, for her sake.
"Weren't you afraid, Paul?" she asked.
"No. If I had been afraid, I should have missed him, perhaps; I made up my mind to kill him, and what was the use of being afraid?"
Many were the praises bestowed upon Paul. "How noble! how heroic!" the people said. Hans told the story to all the boys in the village. "Paul was just as cool as—cool as—a cucumber," he said, that being the best comparison he could think of. The people came and looked at the dog, to see how large he was, and how savage, and went away saying, "I am glad he is dead, but I don't see how Paul had the courage to face him."
Paul went home and told his mother what had happened. She turned pale while listening to the story, and held her breath, and clasped her hands; but when he had finished, and when she thought that, if Paul had not killed the dog, many might have been bitten, she was glad, and said, "You did right, my son. It is our duty to face danger if we can do good." A tear glistened in her eye as she kissed him. "God bless you, Paul," she said, and smiled upon him through her tears.
All the dogs which had been bitten were killed to prevent them from running mad. A hard time of it the dogs of New Hope had, for some which had not been bitten did not escape the dog-killers, who went through the town knocking them over with clubs.
Although Paul was so cool and courageous in the moment of danger, he trembled and felt weak afterwards when he thought of the risk he had run. That night when he said his evening prayer, he thanked God for having protected him. He dreamed it all over again in the night. He saw the dog coming at him with his mouth wide open, the froth dropping from his lips, and his eyes glaring. He heard his growl,—only it was not a growl, but a branch of the old maple which rubbed against the house when the wind blew. That was what set him a-dreaming. In his dream he had no gun, so he picked up the first thing he could lay his hands on, and let drive at the dog. Smash! there was a great racket, and a jingling of glass. Paul was awake in an instant, and found that he had jumped out of bed, and was standing in the middle of the floor, and that he had knocked over the spinning-wheel, and a lot of old trumpery, and had thrown one of his grandfather's old boots through the window.
"What in the world are you up to, Paul?" his mother asked, calling from the room below, in alarm.
"Killing the dog a second time, mother," Paul replied, laughing and jumping into bed again.
When the long northeast storms set in, and the misty clouds hung over the valley, and went hurrying away to the west, brushing the tops of the trees; when the rain, hour after hour, and day after day, fell aslant upon the roof of the little old house; when the wind swept around the eaves, and dashed in wild gusts against the windows, and moaned and wailed in the forests,—then it was that Paul sometimes felt his spirits droop, for the circumstances of life were all against him. He was poor. His dear, kind mother was sick. She had worked day and night to keep that terrible wolf from the door, which is always prowling around the houses of poor people. But the wolf had come, and was looking in at the windows. There was a debt due Mr. Funk for rice, sugar, biscuit, tea, and other things which Doctor Arnica said his mother must have. There was the doctor's bill. The flour-barrel was getting low, and the meal-bag was almost empty. Paul saw the wolf every night as he lay in his bed, and he wished he could kill it.
When his mother was taken sick, he left school and became her nurse. It was hard for him to lay down his books, for he loved them, but it was pleasant to wait upon her. The neighbors were kind. Azalia Adams often came tripping in with something nice,—a tumbler of jelly, or a plate of toast, which her mother had prepared; and she had such cheerful words, and spoke so pleasantly, and moved round the room so softly, putting everything in order, that the room was lighter, even on the darkest days, for her presence.
When, after weeks of confinement to her bed, Paul's mother was strong enough to sit in her easy-chair, Paul went out to fight the wolf. He worked for Mr. Middlekauf, in his cornfield. He helped Mr. Chrome paint wagons. He surveyed land, and ran lines for the farmers, earning a little here and a little there. As fast as he obtained a dollar, it went to pay the debts. As the seasons passed away,—spring, summer, and autumn,—Paul could see that the wolf howled less fiercely day by day. He denied himself everything, except plain food. He was tall, stout, hearty, and rugged. The winds gave him health; his hands were hard, but his heart was tender. When through with his day's work, though his bones ached and his eyes were drowsy, he seldom went to sleep without first studying awhile, and closing with a chapter from the Bible, for he remembered what his grandfather often said,—that a chapter from the Bible was a good thing to sleep on.
The cool and bracing breezes of November, the nourishing food which Paul obtained, brought the color once more to his mother's cheeks; and when at length she was able to be about the house, they had a jubilee,—a glad day of thanksgiving,—for, in addition to this blessing of health, Paul had killed the wolf, and the debts were all paid.
As the winter came on, the subject of employing Mr. Rhythm to teach a singing-school was discussed. Mr. Quaver, a tall, slim man, with a long, red nose, had led the choir for many years. He had a loud voice, and twisted his words so badly, that his singing was like the blare of a trumpet. On Sundays, after Rev. Mr. Surplice read the hymn, the people were accustomed to hear a loud Hawk! from Mr. Quaver, as he tossed his tobacco-quid into a spittoon, and an Ahem! from Miss Gamut. She was the leading first treble, a small lady with a sharp, shrill voice. Then Mr. Fiddleman sounded the key on the bass-viol, do-mi-sol-do, helping the trebles and tenors climb the stairs of the scale; then he hopped down again, and rounded off with a thundering swell at the bottom, to let them know he was safely down, and ready to go ahead. Mr. Quaver led, and the choir followed like sheep, all in their own way and fashion.
The people had listened to this style of music till they were tired of it. They wanted a change, and decided to engage Mr. Rhythm, a nice young man, to teach a singing-school for the young folks. "We have a hundred boys and girls here in the village, who ought to learn to sing, so that they can sit in the singing-seats, and praise God," said Judge Adams.
But Mr. Quaver opposed the project. "The young folks want a frolic, sir," he said; "yes, sir, a frolic, a high time. Rhythm will be teaching them newfangled notions. You know, Judge, that I hate flummididdles; I go for the good old things, sir. The old tunes which have stood the wear and tear of time, and the good old style of singing, sir."
Mr. Quaver did not say all he thought, for he could see that, if the singing-school was kept, he would be in danger of losing his position as chorister. But, notwithstanding his opposition, Mr. Rhythm was engaged to teach the school. Paul determined to attend. He loved music.
"You haven't any coat fit to wear," said his mother. "I have altered over your grandfather's pants and vest for you, but I cannot alter his coat. You will have to stay at home, I guess."
"I can't do that, mother, for Mr. Rhythm is one of the best teachers that ever was, and I don't want to miss the chance. I'll wear grandpa's coat just as it is."
"The school will laugh at you."
"Well, let them laugh, I sha'n't stay at home for that. I guess I can stand it," said Paul, resolutely.
The evening fixed upon for the school to commence arrived. All the young folks in the town were there. Those who lived out of the village,—the farmers' sons and daughters,—came in red, yellow, and green wagons. The girls wore close-fitting hoods with pink linings, which they called "kiss-me-if-ye-dares." Their cheeks were all aglow with the excitement of the occasion. When they saw Mr. Rhythm, how pleasant and smiling he was,—when they heard his voice, so sweet and melodious,—when they saw how spryly he walked, as if he meant to accomplish what he had undertaken,—they said to one another, "How different he is from Mr. Quaver!"
Paul was late on the first evening; for when he put on his grandfather's coat, his mother planned a long while to see if there was not some way by which she could make it look better. Once she took the shears and was going to cut off the tail, but Paul stopped her. "I don't want it curtailed, mother."
"It makes you look like a little old man, Paul; I wouldn't go."
"If I had better clothes, I should wear them, mother; but as I haven't, I shall wear these. I hope to earn money enough some time to get a better coat; but grandpa wore this, and I am not ashamed to wear what he wore," he replied, more resolute than ever. Perhaps, if he could have seen how he looked, he would not have been quite so determined, for the sleeves hung like bags on his arms, and the tail almost touched the floor.
Mr. Rhythm had just rapped the scholars to their seats when Paul entered. There was a tittering, a giggle, then a roar of laughter. Mr. Rhythm looked round to see what was the matter, and smiled. For a moment Paul's courage failed him. It was not so easy to be laughed at as he had imagined. He was all but ready to turn about and leave the room. "No I won't, I'll face it out," he said to himself, walking deliberately to a seat, and looking bravely round, as if asking, "What are you laughing at?"
There was something in his manner which instantly won Mr. Rhythm's respect, and which made him ashamed of himself for having laughed. "Silence! No more laughing," he said; but, notwithstanding the command, there was a constant tittering among the girls. Mr. Rhythm began by saying, "We will sing Old Hundred. I want you all to sing, whether you can sing right or not." He snapped his tuning-fork, and began. The school followed, each one singing,—putting in sharps, flats, naturals, notes, and rests, just as they pleased. "Very well. Good volume of sound. Only I don't think Old Hundred ever was sung so before, or ever will be again," said the master, smiling.
Michael Murphy was confident that he sang gloriously, though he never varied his tone up or down. He was ciphering in fractions at school, and what most puzzled him were the figures set to the bass. He wondered if 6/4 was a vulgar fraction, and if so, he thought it would be better to express it as a mixed number, 1-1/2.
During the evening, Mr. Rhythm, noticing that Michael sang without any variation of tone, said, "Now, Master Murphy, please sing la with me";—and Michael sang bravely, not frightened in the least.
"Very well. Now please sing it a little higher."
"La," sang Michael on the same pitch, but louder.
"Not louder, but higher."
"LA!" responded Michael, still louder, but with the pitch unchanged.
There was tittering among the girls.
"Not so, but thus,"—and Mr. Rhythm gave an example, first low, then high. "Now once more."
"LA!" bellowed Michael on the same pitch.
Daphne Dare giggled aloud, and the laughter, like a train of powder, ran through the girls' seats over to the boys' side of the house, where it exploded in a loud haw! haw! Michael laughed with the others, but he did not know what for.
Recess came. "Halloo, Grandpa! How are you, Old Pensioner? Your coat puckers under the arms, and there is a wrinkle in the back," said Philip Funk to Paul. His sister Fanny pointed her finger at him; and Paul heard her whisper to one of the girls, "Did you ever see such a monkey?"
It nettled him, and so, losing his temper, he said to Philip, "Mind your business."
"Just hear Grandaddy Parker, the old gentleman in the bob-tailed coat," said Philip.
"You are a puppy," said Paul. But he was vexed with himself for having said it. If he had held his tongue, and kept his temper, and braved the sneers of Philip in silence, he might have won a victory; for he remembered a Sunday-school lesson upon the text, "He that ruleth his spirit is greater than he that taketh a city." As it was, he had suffered a defeat, and went home that night disgusted with himself.
Pleasant were those singing-school evenings. Under Mr. Rhythm's instructions the young people made rapid progress. Then what fine times they had at recess, eating nuts, apples, and confectionery, picking out the love-rhymes from the sugar-cockles!
"I cannot tell the love I feel for you, my dove."
was Philip's gift to Azalia. Paul had no money to purchase sweet things at the store; his presents were nuts which he had gathered in the autumn. In the kindness of his heart he gave a double-handful to Philip's sister, Fanny; but she turned up her nose, and let them drop upon the floor.
Society in New Hope was mixed. Judge Adams, Colonel Dare, and Mr. Funk were rich men. Colonel Dare was said to be worth a hundred thousand dollars. No one knew what Mr. Funk was worth; but he had a store, and a distillery, which kept smoking day and night and Sunday, without cessation, grinding up corn, and distilling it into whiskey. There was always a great black smoke rising from the distillery-chimney. The fires were always roaring, and the great vats steaming. Colonel Dare made his money by buying and selling land, wool, corn, and cattle. Judge Adams was an able lawyer, known far and near as honest, upright, and learned. He had a large practice; but though the Judge and Colonel were so wealthy, and lived in fine houses, they did not feel that they were better than their neighbors, so that there was no aristocracy in the place, but the rich and the poor were alike respected and esteemed.
The New Year was at hand, and Daphne Dare was to give a party. She was Colonel Dare's only child,—a laughing, blue-eyed, sensible girl, who attended the village school, and was in the same class with Paul.
"Whom shall I invite to my party, father?" she asked.
"Just whom you please, my dear," said the Colonel.
"I don't know what to do about inviting Paul Parker. Fanny Funk says she don't want to associate with a fellow who is so poor that he wears his grandfather's old clothes," said Daphne.
"Poverty is not a crime, my daughter. I was poor once,—poor as Paul is. Money is not virtue, my dear. It is a good thing to have; but persons are not necessarily bad because they are poor, neither are they good because they are rich," said the Colonel.
"Should you invite him, father, if you were in my place?"
"I do not wish to say, my child, for I want you to decide the matter yourself."
"Azalia says that she would invite him; but Fanny says that if I invite him, she shall not come."
"Aha!" The Colonel opened his eyes wide. "Well, my dear, you are not to be influenced wholly by what Azalia says, and you are to pay no attention to what Fanny threatens. You make the party. You have a perfect right to invite whom you please; and if Fanny don't choose to come, she has the privilege of staying away. I think, however, that she will not be likely to stay at home even if you give Paul an invitation. Be guided by your own sense of right, my darling. That is the best guide."
"I wish you'd give Paul a coat, father. You can afford to, can't you?"
"Yes; but he can't afford to receive it," Daphne looked at her father in amazement. "He can't afford to receive such a gift from me, because it is better for him to fight the battle of life without any help from me or anybody else at present. A good man offered to help me when I was a poor boy; but I thanked him, and said, 'No, sir.' I had made up my mind to cut my own way, and I guess Paul has made up his mind to do the same thing," said the Colonel.
"I shall invite him. I'll let Fanny know that I have a mind of my own," said Daphne, with determination in her voice.
Her father kissed her, but kept his thoughts to himself. He appeared to be pleased, and Daphne thought that he approved her decision.
The day before New Year Paul received a neatly folded note, addressed to Mr. Paul Parker. How funny it looked! It was the first time in his life that he had seen "Mr." prefixed to his name. He opened it, and read that Miss Daphne Dare would receive her friends on New Year's eve at seven o'clock. A great many thoughts passed through his mind. How could he go and wear his grandfather's coat? At school he was on equal footing with all; but to be one of a party in a richly furnished parlor, where Philip, Fanny, and Azalia, and other boys and girls whose fathers had money, could turn their backs on him and snub him, was very different. It was very kind in Daphne to invite him, and ought he not to accept her invitation? Would she not think it a slight if he did not go? What excuse could he offer if he stayed away? None, except that he had no nice clothes. But she knew that, yet she had invited him. She was a true-hearted girl, and would not have asked him if she had not wanted him. Thus he turned the matter over, and decided to go.
But when the time came, Paul was in no haste to be there. Two or three times his heart failed him, while on his way; but looking across the square, and seeing Colonel Dare's house all aglow,—lights in the parlors and chambers, he pushed on resolutely, determined to be manly, notwithstanding his poverty. He reached the house, rang the bell, and was welcomed by Daphne in the hall.
"Good evening, Paul. You are very late. I was afraid you were not coming. All the others are here," she said, her face beaming with happiness, joy, and excitement. She was elegantly dressed, for she was her father's pet, and he bought everything for her which he thought would make her happy.
"Better late than never, isn't it?" said Paul, not knowing what else to say.
Although the party had been assembled nearly an hour, there had been no games. The girls were huddled in groups on one side of the room, and the boys on the other, all shy, timid, and waiting for somebody to break the ice. Azalia was playing the piano, while Philip stood by her side. He was dressed in a new suit of broadcloth, and wore an eye-glass. Fanny was present, though she had threatened not to attend if Paul was invited. She had changed her mind. She thought it would be better to attend and make the place too hot for Paul; she would get up such a laugh upon him that he would be glad to take his hat and sneak away, and never show himself in respectable society again. Philip was in the secret, and so were a dozen others who looked up to Philip and Fanny. Daphne entered the parlor, followed by Paul. There was a sudden tittering, snickering, and laughing. Paul stopped and bowed, then stood erect.
"I declare, if there isn't old Grandaddy," said Philip, squinting through his eye-glass.
"O my! how funny!" said a girl from Fairview.
"Ridiculous! It is a shame!" said Fanny, turning up her nose.
"Who is he?" the Fairview girl asked.
"A poor fellow who lives on charity,—so poor that he wears his grandfather's old clothes. We don't associate with him," was Fanny's reply.
Paul heard it. His cheek flushed, but he stood there, determined to brave it out. Azalia heard and saw it all. She stopped playing in the middle of a measure, rose from her seat with her cheeks all aflame, and walked towards Paul, extending her hand and welcoming him. "I am glad you have come, Paul. We want you to wake us up. We have been half asleep," she said.
The laughter ceased instantly, for Azalia was queen among them. Beautiful in form and feature, her chestnut hair falling in luxuriant curls upon her shoulders, her dark hazel eyes flashing indignantly, her cheeks like blush-roses, every feature of her countenance lighted up by the excitement of the moment, her bearing subdued the conspiracy at once, hushing the derisive laughter, and compelling respect, not only for herself, but for Paul. It required an effort on his part to keep back the tears from his eyes, so grateful was he for her kindness.
"Yes, Paul, we want you to be our general, and tell us what to do," said Daphne.
"Very well, let us have Copenhagen to begin with," he said.
The ice was broken. Daphne brought in her mother's clothes-line, the chairs were taken from the room, and in five minutes the parlor was humming like a beehive.
"I don't see what you can find to like in that disagreeable creature," said Philip to Azalia.
"He is a good scholar, and kind to his mother, and you know how courageous he was when he killed that terrible dog," was her reply.
"I think he is an impudent puppy. What right has he to thrust himself into good company, wearing his grandfather's old clothes?" Philip responded, dangling his eye-glass and running his soft hand through his hair.
"Paul is poor; but I never have heard anything against his character," said Azalia.
"Poor folks ought to be kept out of good society," said Philip.
"What do you say to that picture?" said Azalia, directing his attention towards a magnificent picture of Franklin crowned with laurel by the ladies of the court of France, which hung on the wall. "Benjamin Franklin was a poor boy, and dipped candles for a living; but he became a great man."
"Dipped candles! Why, I never heard of that before," said Philip, looking at the engraving through his eye-glass.
"I don't think it is any disgrace to Paul to be poor. I am glad that Daphne invited him," said Azalia, so resolutely that Philip remained silent. He was shallow-brained and ignorant, and thought it not best to hazard an exposure of his ignorance by pursuing the conversation.
After Copenhagen they had Fox and Geese, and Blind-man's-buff. They guessed riddles and conundrums, had magic writing, questions and answers, and made the parlor, the sitting-room, the spacious halls, and the wide stairway ring with their merry laughter. How pleasant the hours! Time flew on swiftest wings. They had a nice supper,—sandwiches, tongue, ham, cakes, custards, floating-islands, apples, and nuts. After supper they had stories, serious and laughable, about ghosts and witches, till the clock in the dining-room held up both of its hands and pointed to the figure twelve, as if in amazement at their late staying. "Twelve o'clock! Why, how short the evening has been!" said they, when they found how late it was. They had forgotten all about Paul's coat, for he had been the life of the party, suggesting something new when the games lagged. He was so gentlemanly, and laughed so heartily and pleasantly, and was so wide awake, and managed everything so well, that, notwithstanding the conspiracy to put him down, he had won the good will of all the party.
During the evening Colonel Dare and Mrs. Dare entered the room. The Colonel shook hands with Paul, and said, "I am very happy to see you here to-night, Paul." It was spoken so heartily and pleasantly that Paul knew the Colonel meant it.
The young gentlemen were to wait upon the young ladies home. Their hearts went pit-a-pat. They thought over whom to ask and what to say. They walked nervously about the hall, pulling on their gloves, while the girls were putting on their cloaks and hoods up stairs. They also were in a fever of expectation and excitement, whispering mysteriously, their hearts going like trip-hammers.
Daphne stood by the door to bid her guests good night. "I am very glad that you came to-night, Paul," she said, pressing his hand in gratitude, "I don't know what we should have done without you."
"I have passed a very pleasant evening," he replied.
Azalia came tripping down the stairs. "Shall I see you home, Azalia?" Paul asked.
"Miss Adams, shall I have the delightful pleasure of being permitted to escort you to your residence?" said Philip, with his most gallant air, at the same time pushing by Paul with a contemptuous look.
"Thank you, Philip, but I have an escort," said Azalia, accepting Paul's arm.
The night was frosty and cold, though it was clear and pleasant. The full moon was high in the heavens, the air was still, and there were no sounds to break the peaceful silence, except the water dashing over the dam by the mill, the footsteps of the departing guests upon the frozen ground, and the echoing of their voices. Now that he was with Azalia alone, Paul wanted to tell her how grateful he was for all she had done for him; but he could only say, "I thank you, Azalia, for your kindness to me to-night."
"O, don't mention it, Paul; I am glad if I have helped you. Good night."
How light-hearted he was! He went home, and climbed the creaking stairway, to his chamber. The moon looked in upon him, and smiled. He could not sleep, so happy was he. How sweet those parting words! The water babbled them to the rocks, and beyond the river in the grand old forest, where the breezes were blowing, there was a pleasant murmuring of voices, as if the elms and oaks were having a party, and all were saying, "We are glad if we have helped you."
MUSIC AND PAINTING.
Philip went home alone from the party, out of sorts with himself, angry with Azalia, and boiling over with wrath toward Paul. He set his teeth together, and clenched his fist. He would like to blacken Paul's eyes and flatten his nose. The words of Azalia—"I know nothing against Paul's character"—rang in his ears and vexed him. He thought upon them till his steps, falling upon the frozen ground, seemed to say, "Character!—character!—character!" as if Paul had something which he had not.
"So because he has character, and I haven't, you give me the mitten, do you, Miss Azalia?" he said, as if he was addressing Azalia.
He knew that Paul had a good name. He was the best singer in the singing-school, and Mr. Rhythm often called upon him to sing in a duet with Azalia or Daphne. Sometimes he sang a solo so well, that the spectators whispered to one another, that, if Paul went on as he had begun, he would be ahead of Mr. Rhythm.
Philip had left the singing-school. It was dull music to him to sit through the evening, and say "Down, left, right, up," and be drilled, hour after hour. It was vastly more agreeable to lounge in the bar-room of the tavern, with a half-dozen good fellows, smoking cigars, playing cards, taking a drink of whiskey, and, when it was time for the singing-school to break up, go home with the girls, then return to the tavern and carouse till midnight or later. To be cut out by Paul in his attentions to Azalia was intolerable.
"Character!—character!—character!" said his boots all the while as he walked. He stopped short, and ground his heels into the frozen earth. He was in front of Miss Dobb's house.
Miss Dobb was a middle-aged lady, who wore spectacles, had a sharp nose, a peaked chin, a pinched-up mouth, thin cheeks, and long, bony fingers. She kept the village school when Paul and Philip were small boys, and Paul used to think that she wanted to pick him to pieces, her fingers were so long and bony. She knew pretty much all that was going on in the village, for she visited somewhere every afternoon to find out what had happened. Captain Binnacle called her the Daily Advertiser.
"You are the cause of my being jilted, you tattling old maid; you have told that I was a good-for-nothing scapegrace, and I'll pay you for it," said Philip, shaking his fist at the house; and walked on again, meditating how to do it, his boots at each successive step saying, "Character! character!"
He went home and tossed all night in his bed, not getting a wink of sleep, planning how to pay Miss Dobb, and upset Paul.
The next night Philip went to bed earlier than usual, saying, with a yawn, as he took the light to go up stairs, "How sleepy I am!" But, instead of going to sleep, he never was more wide awake. He lay till all in the house were asleep, till he heard the clock strike twelve, then arose, went down stairs softly, carrying his boots, and, when outside the door, put them on. He looked round to see if there was any one astir; but the village was still,—there was not a light to be seen. He went to Mr. Chrome's shop, stopped, and looked round once more; but, seeing no one, raised a window and entered. The moon streamed through the windows, and fell upon the floor, making the shop so light that he had no difficulty in finding Mr. Chrome's paint buckets and brushes. Then, with a bucket in his hand, he climbed out, closed the window, and went to Miss Dobb's. He approached softly, listening and looking to see if any one was about; but there were no footsteps except his own. He painted great letters on the side of the house, chuckling as he thought of what would happen in the morning.
"There, Miss Vinegar, you old liar, I won't charge anything for that sign," he said, when he had finished. He left the bucket on the step, and went home, chuckling all the way.
In the morning Miss Dobb saw a crowd of people in front of her house, looking towards it and laughing. Mr. Leatherby had come out from his shop; Mr. Noggin, the cooper, was there, smoking his pipe; also, Mrs. Shelbarke, who lived across the street. Philip was there. "That is a 'cute trick, I vow," said he. Everybody was on a broad grin.
"What in the world is going on, I should like to know!" said Miss Dobb, greatly wondering. "There must be something funny. Why, they are looking at my house, as true as I am alive!"
Miss Dobb was not a woman to be kept in the dark about anything a great while. She stepped to the front door, opened it, and with her pleasantest smile and softest tone of voice said: "Good morning, neighbors; you seem to be very much pleased at something. May I ask what you see to laugh at?"
"Te-he-he-he!" snickered a little boy, who pointed to the side of the house, and the by-standers followed his lead, with a loud chorus of guffaws.
Miss Dobb looked upon the wall, and saw, in red letters, as if she had gone into business, opened a store, and put out a sign,—"MISS DOBB, LIES, SCANDAL, GOSSIP, WHOLESALE AND RETAIL."
She threw up her hands in horror. Her eyes flashed; she gasped for breath. There was a paint-bucket and brush on the door-step; on one side of the bucket she saw the word Chrome.
"The villain! I'll make him smart for this," she said, running in, snatching her bonnet, and out again, making all haste towards Squire Capias's office, to have Mr. Chrome arrested.
The Squire heard her story. There was a merry twinkling of his eye, but he kept his countenance till she was through.
"I do not think that Mr. Chrome did it; he is not such a fool as to leave his bucket and brush there as evidence against him; you had better let it rest awhile," said he.
Mr. Chrome laughed when he saw the sign. "I didn't do it; I was abed and asleep, as my wife will testify. Somebody stole my bucket and brush; but it is a good joke on Dobb, I'll be blamed if it isn't," said he.
Who did it? That was the question.
"I will give fifty dollars to know," said Miss Dobb, her lips quivering with anger.
Philip heard her and said, "Isn't there a fellow who sometimes helps Mr. Chrome paint wagons?"
"Yes, I didn't think of him. It is just like him. There he comes now; I'll make him confess it." Miss Dobb's eyes flashed, her lips trembled, she was so angry. She remembered that one of the pigs which Paul painted, when he was a boy, was hers; she also remembered how he sent Mr. Smith's old white horse on a tramp after a bundle of hay.
Paul was on his way to Mr. Chrome's shop, to begin work for the day. He wondered at the crowd. He saw the sign, and laughed with the rest.
"You did that, sir," said Miss Dobb, coming up to him, reaching out her long hand and clutching at him with her bony fingers, as if she would like to tear him to pieces. "You did it, you villain! Now you needn't deny it; you painted my pig once, and now you have done this. You are a mean, good-for-nothing scoundrel," she said, working herself into a terrible passion.
"I did not do it," said Paul, nettled at the charge, and growing red in the face.
"You are a liar! you show your guilt in your countenance," said Miss Dobb.
Paul's face was on fire. Never till then had he been called a liar. He was about to tell her loudly, that she was a meddler, tattler, and hypocrite, but he remembered that he had read somewhere, that "he who loses his temper loses his cause," and did not speak the words. He looked her steadily in the face, and said calmly, "I did not do it," and went on to his work.
Weeks went by. The singing-school was drawing to a close. Paul had made rapid progress. His voice was round, rich, full, and clear. He no longer appeared at school wearing his grandfather's coat, for he had worked for Mr. Chrome, painting wagons, till he had earned enough to purchase a new suit of clothes. Besides, it was discovered that he could survey land, and several of the farmers employed him to run the lines between their farms. Mr. Rhythm took especial pains to help him on in singing, and before winter was through he could master the crookedest anthem in the book. Daphne Dare was the best alto, Hans Middlekauf the best bass, and Azalia the best treble. Sometimes Mr. Rhythm had the four sing a quartette, or Azalia and Paul sang a duet. At times, the school sang, while he listened. "I want you to learn to depend upon yourselves," said he. Then it was that Paul's voice was heard above all others, so clear and distinct, and each note so exact in time that they felt he was their leader.
One evening Mr. Rhythm called Paul into the floor, and gave him the rattan with which he beat time, saying, "I want you to be leader in this tune; I resign the command to you, and you are to do just as if I were not here." The blood rushed to Paul's face, his knees trembled; but he felt that it was better to try and fail, than be a coward. He sounded the key, but his voice was husky and trembling. Fanny Funk, who had turned up her nose at Mr. Rhythm's proposition, giggled aloud, and there was laughing around the room. It nerved him in an instant. He opened his lips to shout, Silence! then he thought that they would not respect his authority, and would only laugh louder, which would make him appear ridiculous. He stood quietly and said, not in a husky voice, but calmly, pleasantly, and deliberately, "When the ladies have finished their laughter we will commence." The laughter ceased. He waited till the room was so still that they could hear the clock tick. "Now we will try it," said he. They did not sing it right, and he made them go over it again and again, drilling them till they sang it so well that Mr. Rhythm and the spectators clapped their hands.
"You will have a competent leader after I leave you," said Mr. Rhythm. Paul had gained this success by practice hour after hour, day after day, week after week, at home, till he was master of what he had undertaken.
The question came up in parish meeting, whether the school should join the choir? Mr. Quaver and the old members opposed it, but they were voted down. Nothing was said about having a new chorister, for no one wished to hurt Mr. Quaver's feelings by appointing Paul in his place; but the school did not relish the idea of being led by Mr. Quaver, while, on the other hand, the old singers did not mean to be overshadowed by the young upstarts.
It was an eventful Sunday in New Hope when the singing-school joined the choir. The church was crowded. Fathers and mothers who seldom attended meeting were present to see their children in the singers' seats. The girls were dressed in white, for it was a grand occasion. Mr. Quaver and the old choir were early in their places. Mr. Quaver's red nose was redder than ever, and he had a stern look. He took no notice of the new singers, who stood in the background, not daring to take their seats, and not knowing what to do till Paul arrived.
"Where shall we sit, sir?" Paul asked, respectfully.
"Anywhere back there," said Mr. Quaver.
"We would like to have you assign us seats," said Paul.
"I have nothing to do about it; you may sit anywhere, and sing when you are a mind to, or hold your tongues," said Mr. Quaver, sharply.
"Very well; we will do so," said Paul, a little touched, telling the school to occupy the back seats. He was their acknowledged leader. He took his place behind Mr. Quaver, with Hans, Azalia, and Daphne near him. Mr. Quaver did not look round, neither did Miss Gamut, nor any of the old choir. They felt that the new-comers were intruders, who had no right there.
The bell ceased its tolling, and Rev. Mr. Surplice ascended the pulpit-stairs. He was a venerable man. He had preached many years, and his long, white hair, falling upon his shoulders, seemed to crown him with a saintly glory. The people, old and young, honored, respected, and loved him; for he had grave counsel for the old, kind words for the young, and pleasant stories for the little ones. Everybody said that he was ripening for heaven. He rejoiced when he looked up into the gallery and saw such a goodly array of youth, beauty, and loveliness. Then, bowing his head in prayer, and looking onward to the eternal years, he seemed to see them members of a heavenly choir, clothed in white, and singing, "Alleluia! salvation and glory and honor and power unto the Lord our God!"
After prayer, he read a hymn:—
"Now shall my head be lifted high Above my foes around; And songs of joy and victory Within thy temple sound."
There was a smile of satisfaction on Mr. Quaver's countenance while selecting the tune, as if he had already won a victory. There was a clearing of throats; then Mr. Fiddleman gave the key on the bass-viol. As Mr. Quaver had told Paul that the school might sing when they pleased, or hold their tongues, he determined to act independently of Mr. Quaver.
"After one measure," whispered Paul. He knew they would watch his hand, and commence in exact time. The old choir was accustomed to sing without regard to time.
Mr. Quaver commenced louder than usual,—twisting, turning, drawling, and flattening the first word as if it was spelled n-e-a-w. Miss Gamut and Mr. Cleff and the others dropped in one by one. Not a sound as yet from the school. All stood eagerly watching Paul. He cast a quick glance right and left. His hand moved,—down—left—right—up. They burst into the tune, fifty voices together. It was like the broadside of a fifty-gun frigate. The old choir was confounded. Miss Gamut stopped short. Captain Binnacle, who once was skipper of a schooner on the Lakes, and who owned a pew in front of the pulpit, said afterwards, that she was thrown on her beam-ends as if struck by a nor'wester and all her main-sail blown into ribbons in a jiffy. Mr. Quaver, though confused for a moment, recovered; Miss Gamut also righted herself. Though confounded, they were not yet defeated. Mr. Quaver stamped upon the floor, which brought Mr. Cleff to his senses. Mr. Quaver looked as if he would say, "Put down the upstarts!" Mr. Fiddleman played with all his might; Miss Gamut screamed at the top of her voice, while Mr. Cleff puffed out his fat cheeks and became red in the face, doing his utmost to drown them.
The people looked and listened in amazement. Mr. Surplice stood reverently in his place. Those who sat nearest the pulpit said that there was a smile on his countenance.
It was a strange fugue, but each held on to the end of the verse, the young folks getting out ahead of Mr. Quaver and his flock, and having a breathing spell before commencing the second stanza. So they went through the hymn. Then Mr. Surplice read from the Bible: "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commanded his blessing forevermore."
Turning to the choir, he said, "My dear friends, I perceive that there is a want of unity in your services, as singers of the sanctuary; therefore, that the peace and harmony of the place may not be broken, I propose that, when the next psalm is given, the old members of the choir sing the first stanza, and the new members the second, and so through the hymn. By thus doing there will be no disagreement."
Each one—old and young—resolved to do his best, for comparisons would be made. It would be the struggle for victory.
"I will give them a tune which will break them down," Mr. Quaver whispered to Miss Gamut, as he selected one with a tenor and treble duet, which he and Miss Gamut had sung together a great many times. Louder and stronger sang Mr. Quaver. Miss Gamut cleared her throat, with the determination to sing as she never sang before, and to show the people what a great difference there was between her voice and Azalia Adams's. But the excitement of the moment set her heart in a flutter when she came to the duet, which ran up out of the scale. She aimed at high G, but instead of striking it in a round full tone, as she intended and expected, she only made a faint squeak on F, which sounded so funny that the people down stairs smiled in spite of their efforts to keep sober. Her breath was gone. She sank upon her seat, covered her face with her hands, mortified and ashamed. Poor Miss Gamut! But there was a sweet girl behind her who pitied her very much, and who felt like crying, so quick was her sympathy for all in trouble and sorrow.
Mr. Quaver was provoked. Never was his nose so red and fiery. Determined not to be broken down, he carried the verse through, ending with a roar, as if to say, "I am not defeated."
The young folks now had their turn. There was a measure of time, the exact movement, the clear chord, swelling into full chorus, then becoming fainter, till it seemed like the murmuring of voices far away. How charming the duet! Where Mr. Quaver blared like a trumpet, Paul sang in clear, melodious notes; and where Miss Gamut broke down, Azalia glided so smoothly and sweetly that every heart was thrilled. Then, when all joined in the closing strain, the music rolled in majesty along the roof, encircled the pulpit, went down the winding stairs, swept along the aisles, entered the pews, and delighted the congregation. Miss Gamut still continued to sit with her hands over her face. Mr. Quaver nudged her to try another verse, but she shook her head. Paul waited for Mr. Quaver, who was very red in the face, and who felt that it was of no use to try again without Miss Gamut. He waved his hand to Paul as a signal to go on. The victory was won. Through the sermon Mr. Quaver thought the matter over. He felt very uncomfortable, but at noon he shook hands with Paul, and said, "I resign my place to you. I have been chorister for thirty years, and have had my day." He made the best of his defeat, and in the afternoon, with all the old singers, sat down stairs.
Judge Adams bowed to Paul very cordially at the close of the service. Colonel Dare shook hands with him, and Rev. Mr. Surplice, with a pleasant smile, said, "May the Lord be with you." It was spoken so kindly and heartily, and was so like a benediction, that the tears came to Paul's eyes; for he felt that he was unworthy of such kindness.
There was one person in the congregation who looked savagely at him,—Miss Dobb. "It is a shame," she said, when the people came out of church, speaking loud enough to be heard by all, "that such a young upstart and hypocrite should be allowed to worm himself into Mr. Quaver's seat." She hated Paul, and determined to put him down if possible.
Paul went home from church pleased that the school had done so well, and grateful for all the kind words he heard; but as he retired for the night, and thought over what had taken place,—when he realized that he was the leader of the choir, and that singing was a part of divine worship,—when he considered that he had fifty young folks to direct—and that it would require a steady hand to keep them straight, he felt very sober. As these thoughts, one by one, came crowding upon him, he felt that he could not bear so great a responsibility. Then he reflected that life is made up of responsibilities, and that it was his duty to meet them manfully. If he cringed before, or shrank from them, and gave them the go-by, he would be a coward, and never would accomplish anything. No one would respect him, and he would not even have any respect for himself. "I won't back out!" he said, resolving to do the best he could.
Very pleasant were the days. Spring had come with its sunshine and flowers. The birds were in their old haunts,—the larks in the meadows, the partridges in the woods, the quails in the fields. Paul was as happy as they, singing from morning till night the tunes he had learned; and when his day's work was over, he was never too wearied to call upon Daphne with Azalia, and sing till the last glimmer of daylight faded from the west,—Azalia playing the piano, and their voices mingling in perfect harmony. How pleasant the still hours with Azalia beneath the old elms, which spread out their arms above them, as if to pronounce a benediction,—the moonlight smiling around them,—the dews perfuming the air with the sweet odors of roses and apple-blooms,—the cricket chirping his love-song to his mate,—the river forever flowing, and sweetly chanting its endless melody!
Sometimes they lingered by the way, and laughed to hear the grand chorus of bull-frogs croaking among the rushes of the river, and the echoes of their own voices dying away in the distant forest. And then, standing in the gravelled walk before the door of Azalia's home, where the flowers bloomed around them, they looked up to the stars, shining so far away, and talked of choirs of angels, and of those who had gone from earth to heaven, and were singing the song of the Redeemed. How bright the days! how blissful the nights!
Mr. Shell was proprietor of the New Hope Oyster Saloon. He got up nice game suppers, and treated his customers to ale, whiskey, and brandy. Philip loved good living, and often ate an oyster-stew and a broiled quail, and washed it down with a glass of ale, late at night in Mr. Shell's rooms, in company with three or four other boys. After supper they had cigars and a game of cards, till midnight, when Mr. Shell put out his lights and closed his doors, often interrupting them in the middle of a game. That was not agreeable, and so the young gentlemen hired a room over the saloon, fitted it up with tables and chairs, and organized a club, calling themselves "Night-Hawks." Philip was the chief hawk. They met nearly every evening. No one could get into their room without giving a signal to those within, and they had a secret sign by which they knew each other in the dark.
At first they enjoyed themselves, playing cards, smoking cigars, drinking ale, sipping hot whiskey punch, and telling stories; but in a short time the stories were not worth laughing at, the games of cards were the same thing over and over, and they wanted something more exciting.
It was the fall of the year. There was rich fruit in the orchards and gardens of New Hope, russet and crimson-cheeked apples, golden-hued pears, luscious grapes purpling in the October sun, and juicy melons. The bee-hives were heavy with honey, and the bees were still at work, gathering new sweets from the late blooming flowers. Many baskets of ripe apples and choicest pears, many a bunch of grapes, with melons, found their way up the narrow stairs to the room of the Night-Hawks. There was a pleasing excitement in gathering the apples and pears under the windows of the unsuspecting people fast asleep, or in plucking the grapes from garden trellises at midnight. But people began to keep watch.