{about 50 titles}

The Boys


"PAUL PRESCOTT'S CHARGE" is presented to
the public as the second volume of the Campaign
Series. Though wholly unlike the first
volume, it is written in furtherance of the same
main idea, that every boy's life is a campaign,
more or less difficult, in which success depends
upon integrity and a steadfast adherence to duty.

How Paul Prescott gained strength by
battling with adverse circumstances, and, under
all discouragements, kept steadily before him
the charge which he received from his dying
father, is fully told; and the author will be
glad if the record shall prove an incentive and
an encouragement to those boys who may have
a similar campaign before them.





The speaker was a tall, pompous-looking
man, whose age appeared to verge close upon
fifty. He was sitting bolt upright in a high-
backed chair, and looked as if it would be
quite impossible to deviate from his position
of unbending rigidity.

Squire Benjamin Newcome, as he was
called, in the right of his position as Justice
of the Peace, Chairman of the Selectmen, and
wealthiest resident of Wrenville, was a man
of rule and measure. He was measured in his
walk, measured in his utterance, and measured
in all his transactions. He might be
called a dignified machine. He had a very
exalted conception of his own position, and the
respect which he felt to be his due, not only
from his own household, but from all who
approached him. If the President of the United
States had called upon him, Squire Newcome
would very probably have felt that he himself
was the party who conferred distinction, and
not received it.

Squire Newcome was a widower. His wife,
who was as different from himself as could well
be conceived, did not live long after marriage.
She was chilled to death, as it was thought, by
the dignified iceberg of whose establishment
she had become a part. She had left, however,
a child, who had now grown to be a boy
of twelve. This boy was a thorn in the side
of his father, who had endeavored in vain to
mould him according to his idea of propriety.
But Ben was gifted with a spirit of fun, sometimes
running into mischief, which was constantly
bursting out in new directions, in spite
of his father's numerous and rather prosy lectures.

"Han-nah!" again called Squire Newcome,
separating the two syllables by a pause of
deliberation, and strongly accenting the last
syllable,--a habit of his with all proper names.

Hannah was the Irish servant of all work,
who was just then engaged in mixing up bread
in the room adjoining, which was the kitchen.

Feeling a natural reluctance to appear
before her employer with her hands covered with
dough, she hastily washed them. All this,
however, took time, and before she responded
to the first summons, the second "Han-nah!"
delivered with a little sharp emphasis, had
been uttered.

At length she appeared at the door of the

"Han-nah!" said Squire Newcome, fixing
his cold gray eye upon her, "when you hear my
voice a calling you, it is your duty to answer
the summons IMMEJIATELY."

I have endeavored to represent the Squire's
pronunciation of the last word.

"So I would have come IMMEJOUSLY," said
Hannah, displaying a most reprehensible
ignorance, "but me hands were all covered
with flour."

"That makes no difference," interrupted the
Squire. "Flour is an accidental circumstance."

"What's that?" thought Hannah, opening
her eyes in amazement.

"And should not be allowed to interpose an
obstacle to an IMMEJIATE answer to my summons."

"Sir," said Hannah, who guessed at the
meaning though she did not understand the
words, "you wouldn't have me dirty the door-
handle with me doughy hands?"

"That could easily be remedied by ablution."

"There ain't any ablution in the house,"
said the mystified Hannah.

"I mean," Squire Newcome condescended
to explain, "the application of water--in
short, washing."

"Shure," said Hannah, as light broke in
upon her mind, "I never knew that was what
they called it before."

"Is Ben-ja-min at home?"

"Yes, sir. He was out playin' in the yard
a minute ago. I guess you can see him from
the winder."

So saying she stepped forward, and looking
out, all at once gave a shrill scream, and
rushed from the room, leaving her employer
in his bolt-upright attitude gazing after
her with as much astonishment as he was
capable of.

The cause of her sudden exit was revealed
on looking out of the window.

Master Benjamin, or Ben, as he was called
everywhere except in his own family, had got
possession of the black kitten, and appeared to
be submerging her in the hogshead of rainwater.

"O, you wicked, cruel boy, to drown poor
Kitty!" exclaimed the indignant Hannah,
rushing into the yard and endeavoring to
snatch her feline favorite--an attempt which
Ben stoutly resisted.

Doubtless the poor kitten would have fared
badly between the two, had not the window
opened, and the deliberate voice of his father,
called out in tones which Ben saw fit to heed.


"Come into my presence immejiately, and
learn to answer me with more respect."

Ben came in looking half defiant.

His father, whose perpendicularity made
him look like a sitting grenadier, commenced
the examination thus:--

"I wish you to inform me what you was a
doing of when I spoke to you."

It will be observed that the Squire's dignified
utterances were sometimes a little at variance
with the rule of the best modern grammarians.

"I was trying to prevent Hannah from
taking the kitten," said Ben.

"What was you a doing of before Hannah
went out?"

"Playing with Kitty."

"Why were you standing near the hogshead, Benjamin?"

"Why," said Ben, ingenuously, "the
hogshead happened to be near me--that was all."

"Were you not trying to drown the kitten?"

"O, I wouldn't drown her for anything,"
said Ben with an injured expression, mentally
adding, "short of a three-cent piece."

"Then, to repeat my interrogatory, what
was you a doing of with the kitten in the hogshead?"

"I was teaching her to swim," said Ben,
looking out of the corner of his eye at his
father, to see what impression this explanation
made upon him.

"And what advantageous result do you
think would be brought about by teaching of
the kitten to swim, Benjamin?" persisted his

"Advantageous result!" repeated Ben,
demurely, pretending not to understand.


"What does that mean?"

"Do you not study your dictionary at
school, Benjamin?"

"Yes, but I don't like it much."

"You are very much in error. You will
never learn to employ your tongue with elegance
and precision, unless you engage in this
beneficial study."

"I can use my tongue well enough, without
studying grammar," said Ben. He proceeded
to illustrate the truth of this assertion
by twisting his tongue about in a comical

"Tongue," exclaimed his father, "is but
another name for language I mean your
native language."


Ben was about to leave the room to avoid
further questions of an embarrassing nature,
when his father interrupted his exit by saying--

"Stay, Benjamin, do not withdraw till I
have made all the inquiries which I intend."

The boy unwillingly returned.

"You have not answered my question."

"I've forgotten what it was."

"What good would it do?" asked the
Squire, simplifying his speech to reach Ben's
comprehension, "what good would it do to
teach the kitten to swim?"

"O, I thought," said Ben, hesitating, "that
some time or other she might happen to fall
into the water, and might not be able to get
out unless she knew how."

"I think," said his father with an unusual
display of sagacity, "that she will be in much
greater hazard of drowning while learning to
swim under your direction than by any other
chance likely to befall her."

"Shouldn't wonder," was Ben's mental comment,
"Pretty cute for you, dad."

Fortunately, Ben did not express his
thoughts aloud. They would have implied
such an utter lack of respect that the Squire
would have been quite overwhelmed by the
reflection that his impressive manners had
produced no greater effect on one who had so
excellent a chance of being impressed by them.

"Benjamin," concluded his father, "I have
an errand for you to execute. You may go to
Mr. Prescott's and see if he is yet living. I
hear that he is a lying on the brink of the

An expression of sadness stole over the
usually merry face of Ben, as he started on his

"Poor Paul!" he thought, "what will he do
when his father dies? He's such a capital
fellow, too. I just wish I had a wagon load
of money, I do, and I'd give him half. That's



We will precede Ben on his visit to the house
of Mr. Prescott.

It was an old weather-beaten house, of one
story, about half a mile distant from 'Squire
Newcome's residence. The Prescott family
had lived here for five years, or ever since they
had removed to Wrenville. Until within a
year they had lived comfortably, when two
blows came in quick succession. The first was
the death of Mrs. Prescott, an excellent woman,
whose loss was deeply felt by her husband
and son. Soon afterwards Mr. Prescott, a
carpenter by trade, while at work upon the
roof of a high building, fell off, and not only
broke his leg badly, but suffered some internal
injury of a still more serious nature. He had
not been able to do a stroke of work since.
After some months it became evident that he
would never recover. A year had now passed.
During this time his expenses had swallowed
up the small amount which he had succeeded
in laying up previous to his sickness. It was
clear that at his death there would be nothing
left. At thirteen years of age Paul would have
to begin the world without a penny.

Mr. Prescott lay upon a bed in a small bedroom
adjoining the kitchen. Paul, a thoughtful-
looking boy sat beside it, ready to answer
his call.

There had been silence for some time, when
Mr. Prescott called feebly--


"I am here, father," said Paul.

"I am almost gone, Paul, I don't think I
shall last through the day."

"O, father," said Paul, sorrowfully, "Don't
leave me."

"That is the only grief I have in dying--I
must leave you to struggle for yourself, Paul.
I shall be able to leave you absolutely nothing."

"Don't think of that, father. I am young
and strong--I can earn my living in some

"I hoped to live long enough to give you
an education. I wanted you to have a fairer
start in the world than I had."

"Never mind, father," said Paul, soothingly,
"Don't be uneasy about me. God will provide
for me."

Again there was a silence, broken only by
the difficult breathing of the sick man.

He spoke again.

"There is one thing, Paul, that I want to
tell you before I die."

Paul drew closer to the bedside.

"It is something which has troubled me as
I lay here. I shall feel easier for speaking of
it. You remember that we lived at Cedarville
before we came here."

"Yes, father."

"About two years before we left there, a
promising speculation was brought to my
notice. An agent of a Lake Superior mine
visited our village and represented the mine in
so favorable a light that many of my neighbors
bought shares, fully expecting to double their
money in a year. Among the rest I was attacked
with the fever of speculation. I had
always been obliged to work hard for a moderate
compensation, and had not been able to
do much more than support my family. This
it seemed to me, afforded an excellent opportunity
of laying up a little something which
might render me secure in the event of a sudden
attack of sickness. I had but about two
hundred dollars, however, and from so scanty
an investment I could not, of course, expect a
large return; accordingly I went to Squire
Conant; you remember him, Paul?"

"Yes, father."

`I went to him and asked a loan of five hundred
dollars. After some hesitation he agreed
to lend it to me. He was fond of his money
and not much given to lending, but it so happened
that he had invested in the same speculation,
and had a high opinion of it, so he felt
pretty safe in advancing me the money. Well,
this loan gave me seven hundred dollars, with
which I purchased seven shares in the Lake
Superior Grand Combination Mining Company.
For some months afterwards, I felt
like a rich man. I carefully put away my
certificate of stock, looking upon it as the
beginning of a competence. But at the end of six
months the bubble burst--the stock proved to
be utterly worthless,--Squire Conant lost five
thousand dollars. I lost seven hundred, five
hundred being borrowed money. The Squire's
loss was much larger, but mine was the more
serious, since I lost everything and was
plunged into debt, while he had at least forty
thousand dollars left.

"Two days after the explosion, Squire
Conant came into my shop and asked abruptly
when I could pay him the amount I had borrowed.
I told him that I could not fix a time.
I said that I had been overwhelmed by a result
so contrary to my anticipations, but I told
him I would not rest till I had done something
to satisfy his claim. He was always an
unreasonable man, and reproached me bitterly
for sinking his money in a useless speculation,
as if I could foresee how it would end any better
than he."

"Have you ever been able to pay back any
part of the five hundred dollars, father?"

"I have paid the interest regularly, and a
year ago, just before I met with my accident,
I had laid up a hundred and fifty dollars which
I had intended to pay the Squire, but when my
sickness came I felt obliged to retain it to defray
our expenses, being cut off from earning

"Then I suppose you have not been able to
pay interest for the last year."


"Have you heard from the Squire lately?"

"Yes, I had a letter only last week. You
remember bringing me one postmarked Cedarville?"

"Yes, I wondered at the time who it could
be from."

"You will find it on the mantelpiece. I
should like to have you get it and read it."

Paul readily found the letter. It was
enclosed in a brown envelope, directed in a bold
hand to "Mr. John Prescott, Wrenville."

The letter was as follows:--


SIR: I have been waiting impatiently to hear something
about the five hundred dollars in which sum you are indebted
to me, on account of a loan which I was fool enough to make
you seven years since. I thought you an honest man, but I
have found, to my cost, that I was mistaken. For the last
year you have even failed to pay interest as stipulated between
us. Your intention is evident. I quite understand that you
have made up your mind to defraud me of what is rightfully
mine. I don't know how you may regard this, but I consider
it as bad as highway robbery. I do not hesitate to say that
if you had your deserts you would be in the Penitentiary.
Let me advise you, if you wish to avoid further trouble, to
make no delay in paying a portion of this debt.
Yours, etc.

Paul's face flushed with indignation as he
read this bitter and cruel letter.

"Does Squire Conant know that you are
sick, father?" he inquired.

"Yes, I wrote him about my accident, telling
him at the same time that I regretted it in
part on account of the interruption which it
must occasion in my payments."

"And knowing this, he wrote such a letter
as that," said Paul, indignantly, "what a hard,
unfeeling wretch he must be!"

"I suppose it is vexatious to him to be kept
out of his money."

"But he has plenty more. He would never
miss it if he had given it to you outright."

"That is not the way to look at it, Paul.
The money is justly his, and it is a great sorrow
to me that I must die without paying it."

"Father," said Paul, after a pause, "will it
be any relief to you, if I promise to pay it,--
that is, if I am ever able?"

Mr. Prescott's face brightened.

"That was what I wanted to ask you, Paul.
It will be a comfort to me to feel thar there is
some hope of the debt being paid at some
future day."

"Then don't let it trouble you any longer,
father. The debt shall be mine, and I will pay

Again a shadow passed over the sick man's
face, "Poor boy," he said, "why should I
burden your young life with such a load? You
will have to struggle hard enough as it is. No,
Paul, recall your promise. I don't want to
purchase comfort at such a price."

"No, father," said Paul sturdily, "it is too
late now. I have made the promise and I mean
to stick to it. Besides, it will give me something
to live for. I am young--I may have a
great many years before me. For thirteen
years you have supported me. It is only right
that I should make what return I can. I'll
keep my promise, father."

"May God help and prosper you, my boy,"
said Mr. Prescott, solemnly. "You've been a
good son; I pray that you may grow up to be a
good man. But, my dear, I feel tired. I think
I will try to go to sleep."

Paul smoothed the comforter, adjusting it
carefully about his father's neck, and going
to the door went out in search of some wood
to place upon the fire. Their scanty stock of
firewood was exhausted, and Paul was obliged
to go into the woods near by, to obtain such
loose fagots as he might find upon the ground.

He was coming back with his load when his
attention was drawn by a whistle. Looking up
he discovered Ben Newcome approaching him.

"How are you, Paul?"

"Pretty well, Ben."

"How precious lonesome you must be,
mewed up in the house all the time."

"Yes, it is lonesome, but I wouldn't mind
that if I thought father would ever get any

"How is he this morning?"

"Pretty low; I expect he is asleep. He said
he was tired just before I went out."

"I brought over something for you," said
Ben, tugging away at his pocket.

Opening a paper he displayed a couple of
apple turnovers fried brown.

"I found 'em in the closet," he said.

"Won't Hannah make a precious row when
she finds 'em gone?"

"Then I don't know as I ought to take
them," said Paul, though, to tell the truth,
they looked tempting to him.

"O, nonsense," said Ben; "they don't belong
to Hannah. She only likes to scold a
little; it does her good."

The two boys sat on the doorstep and talked
while Paul ate the turnovers. Ben watched
the process with much satisfaction.

"Ain't they prime?" he said.

"First rate," said Paul; `won't you have

"No," said Ben; "you see I thought while
I was about it I might as well take four, so I
ate two coming along."

In about fifteen minutes Paul went into the
house to look at his father. He was lying very
quietly upon the bed. Paul drew near and
looked at him more closely. There was something
in the expression of his father's face
which terrified him.

Ben heard his sudden cry of dismay, and
hurriedly entered.

Paul pointed to the bed, and said briefly,
"Father's dead!"

Ben, who in spite of his mischievous
propensities was gifted with a warm heart, sat
down beside Paul, and passing his arm round
his neck, gave him that silent sympathy which
is always so grateful to the grief-stricken heart.



Two days later, the funeral of Mr. Prescott
took place.

Poor Paul! It seemed to him a dream of
inexpressible sorrow. His father and mother
both gone, he felt that he was indeed left alone
in the world. No thought of the future had
yet entered his mind. He was wholly occupied
with his present sorrow. Desolate at heart he
slipped away from the graveyard after the
funeral ceremony was over, and took his way
back again to the lonely dwelling which he had
called home.

As he was sitting in the corner, plunged in
sorrowful thought, there was a scraping heard
at the door, and a loud hem!

Looking up, Paul saw entering the cottage
the stiff form of Squire Benjamin Newcome,
who, as has already been stated, was the

"Paul," said the Squire, with measured deliberation.

"Do you mean me, sir?" asked Paul,
vaguely conscious that his name had been called.

"Did I not address you by your baptismal
appellation?" demanded the Squire, who
thought the boy's question superfluous.

"Paul," pursued Squire Newcome, "have
you thought of your future destination?"

"No, sir," said Paul, "I suppose I shall live here."

"That arrangement would not be consistent
with propriety. I suppose you are aware that
your deceased parent left little or no worldly

"I know he was poor."

"Therefore it has been thought best that
you should be placed in charge of a worthy
man, who I see is now approaching the house.
You will therefore accompany him without
resistance. If you obey him and read the
Bible regularly, you will--ahem!--you will
some time or other see the advantage of it."

With this consolatory remark Squire Newcome
wheeled about and strode out of the

Immediately afterwards there entered a
rough-looking man arrayed in a farmer's blue frock.

"You're to come with me, youngster," said
Mr. Nicholas Mudge, for that was his name.

"With you?" said Paul, recoiling instinctively.

In fact there was nothing attractive in the
appearance or manners of Mr. Mudge. He had
a coarse hard face, while his head was surmounted
by a shock of red hair, which to all
appearance had suffered little interference
from the comb for a time which the observer
would scarcely venture to compute. There
was such an utter absence of refinement about
the man, that Paul, who had been accustomed
to the gentle manners of his father, was repelled
by the contrast which this man exhibited.

"To be sure you're to go with me," said Mr.
Mudge. "You did not calc'late you was a
goin' to stay here by yourself, did you? We've
got a better place for you than that. But the
wagon's waitin' outside, so just be lively and
bundle in, and I'll carry you to where you're
a goin' to live."

"Where's that?"

"Wal, some folks call it the Poor House, but
it ain't any the worse for that, I expect. Anyhow,
them as has no money may feel themselves
lucky to get so good a home. So jest be
a movin', for I can't be a waitin' here all day."

Paul quietly submitted himself to the guidance
of Mr. Mudge. He was so occupied with
the thought of his sad loss that he did not
realize the change that was about to take
place in his circumstances.

About half a mile from the village in the
bleakest and most desolate part of the town,
stood the Poor House. It was a crazy old
building of extreme antiquity, which, being no
longer considered fit for an ordinary dwelling-
house, had been selected as a suitable residence
for the town's poor. It was bleak and comfortless
to be sure, but on that very account
had been purchased at a trifling expense, and
that was, of course, a primary consideration.
Connected with the house were some dozen
acres of rough-looking land, plentifully over-
spread with stones, which might have filled
with despair the most enterprising agriculturist.
However, it had this recommendation at
least, that it was quite in character with the
buildings upon it, which in addition to the
house already described, consisted of a barn
of equal antiquity and a pig pen.

This magnificent domain was under the
superintendence of Mr. Nicholas Mudge, who in
consideration of taking charge of the town
paupers had the use of the farm and buildings,
rent free, together with a stipulated weekly
sum for each of the inmates.

"Well, Paul," said Mr. Mudge, as they
approached the house, in a tone which was meant
to be encouraging, "this is goin' to be your
home. How do you like it?"

Thus addressed, Paul ventured a glance around him.

`I don't know," said he, doubtfully;
"it don't look very pleasant."

"Don't look very pleasant!" repeated Mr.
Mudge in a tone of mingled amazement and
indignation. "Well, there's gratitude for you.
After the town has been at the expense of providin'
a nice, comfortable home for you, because
you haven't got any of your own, you
must turn up your nose at it."

"I didn't mean to complain," said Paul,
feeling very little interest in the matter.

"Perhaps you expected to live in a marble
palace," pursued Mr. Mudge, in an injured
tone. "We don't have any marble palaces in
this neighborhood, we don't."

Paul disclaimed any such anticipation.

Mr. Mudge deigned to accept Paul's apology,
and as they had now reached the door,
unceremoniously threw it open, and led the way
into a room with floor unpainted, which, to
judge from its appearance, was used as a



Everything was "at sixes and sevens," as
the saying is, in the room Mr. Mudge and Paul
had just entered. In the midst of the scene
was a large stout woman, in a faded calico
dress, and sleeves rolled up, working as if her
life or the world's destiny depended upon it.

It was evident from the first words of Mr.
Mudge that this lady was his helpmeet.

"Well, wife," he said, "I've brought you
another boarder. You must try to make him as
happy and contented as the rest of 'em are."

From the tone of the speaker, the last words
might be understood to be jocular.

Mrs. Mudge, whose style of beauty was not
improved by a decided squint, fixed a scrutinizing
gaze upon Paul, and he quite naturally
returned it.

"Haven't you ever seen anybody before,
boy? I guess you'll know me next time."

"Shouldn't wonder if he did," chuckled Mr. Mudge.

"I don't know where on earth we shall put
him," remarked the lady. "We're full now."

"Oh, put him anywhere. I suppose you won't be
very particular about your accommodations?"
said Mr. Mudge turning to Paul.

Paul very innocently answered in the negative,
thereby affording Mr. Mudge not a little amusement.

"Well, that's lucky," he said, "because our
best front chamber's occupied just now. We'd
have got it ready for you if you'd only wrote a
week ago to tell us you were coming. You
can just stay round here," he said in a different
tone as he was about leaving the room,
"Mrs. Mudge will maybe want you to do something
for her. You can sit down till she calls on you."

It was washing day with Mrs. Mudge, and
of course she was extremely busy. The water
was to be brought from a well in the yard, and
to this office Paul was at once delegated. It
was no easy task, the full pails tugging most
unmercifully at his arms. However, this was
soon over, and Mrs. Mudge graciously gave
him permission to go into the adjoining room,
and make acquaintance with his fellow-boarders.

There were nine of them in all, Paul, the
newcomer making the tenth. They were all
advanced in years, except one young woman,
who was prevented by mental aberration from
supporting herself outside the walls of
the Institution.

Of all present, Paul's attention was most
strongly attracted towards one who appeared
more neatly and scrupulously attired than any
of the rest.

Aunt Lucy Lee, or plain Aunt Lucy, for in
her present abode she had small use for her
last name, was a benevolent-looking old lady,
who both in dress and manners was distinguished
from her companions. She rose from
her knitting, and kindly took Paul by the hand.
Children are instinctive readers of character,
and Paul, after one glance at her benevolent
face, seated himself contentedly beside her.

"I suppose," said the old lady, socially,
"you've come to live with us. We must do all
we can to make you comfortable. Your name
is Paul Prescott, I think Mrs. Mudge said."

"Yes, ma'am" answered Paul, watching the
rapid movement of the old lady's fingers.

"Mine is Aunt Lucy," she continued, "that
is what everybody calls me. So now we know
each other, and shall soon be good friends, I
hope. I suppose you have hardly been here
long enough to tell how you shall like it."

Paul confessed that thus far he did not find
it very pleasant.

"No, I dare say not," said Aunt Lucy, "I
can't say I think it looks very attractive
myself. However, it isn't wholly the fault of Mr.
and Mrs. Mudge. They can't afford to do
much better, for the town allows them very little."

Aunt Lucy's remarks were here interrupted
by the apparition of the worthy landlady at
the door.

"Dinner's ready, folks," said that lady, with
little ceremony, "and you must come out
quick if you want any, for I'm drove with
work, and can't be hindered long."

The summons was obeyed with alacrity, and
the company made all haste to the dining-room,
or rather the kitchen, for it was here that the
meals were eaten.

In the center of the room was set a table
without a cloth, a table-cloth being considered
a luxury quite superfluous. Upon this were
placed several bowls of thin, watery liquid,
intended for soup, but which, like city milk, was
diluted so as hardly to be distinguishable.
Beside each bowl was a slice of bread.

Such was the bill of fare.

"Now, folks, the sooner you fall to the
better," exclaimed the energetic Mrs. Mudge, who
was one of those driving characters, who
consider any time spent at the table beyond ten
minutes as so much time wasted.

The present company appeared to need no
second invitation. Their scanty diet had the
positive advantage of giving them a good
appetite; otherwise the quality of their food
might have daunted them.

Paul took his place beside Aunt Lucy.
Mechanically he did as the rest, carrying to his
mouth a spoonful of the liquid. But his appetite
was not sufficiently accustomed to Poor House regime
to enable him to relish its standing dish, and he laid
down his spoon with a disappointed look.

He next attacked the crust of bread, but
found it too dry to be palatable.

"Please, ma'am," said he to Mrs. Mudge,
"I should like some butter."

Paul's companions dropped their spoons in
astonishment at his daring, and Mrs. Mudge
let fall a kettle she was removing from the fire,
in sheer amazement.

"What did you ask for?" she inquired, as if
to make sure that her ears did not deceive her.

"A little butter," repeated Paul, unconscious
of the great presumption of which he had been guilty.

"You want butter, do you?" repeated Mr. Mudge.
"Perhaps you'd like a slice of beefsteak
and a piece of plum-pudding too, wouldn't you?"

"I should very much," said Paul, resolved
to tell the truth, although he now began to
perceive the sarcasm in his landlady's tone.

"There isn't anything more you would like,
is there?" inquired the lady, with mock politeness.

"No, ma'am," returned Paul after a pause,
"I believe not, to-day."

"Very moderate, upon my word," exclaimed
Mrs. Mudge, giving vent at length to her pent-
up indignation. "You'll be contented with
butter and roast beef and plum-pudding! A
mighty fine gentleman, to be sure. But you
won't get them here, I'll be bound."

"So will I," thought Aunt Lucy.

"If you ain't satisfied with what I give you,"
pursued Mrs. Mudge, "you'd better go somewhere
else. You can put up at some of the
great hotels. Butter, forsooth!"

Having thus given expression to her feelings,
she left the room, and Paul was left to
finish his dinner with the best appetite he could
command. He was conscious that he had offended
Mrs. Mudge, but the thoughts of his recent great
sorrow swallowed up all minor annoyances, so that
the words of his estimable landlady were forgotten
almost as soon as they were uttered. He felt that
he must henceforth look for far different treatment
from that to which he had been accustomed during his
father's lifetime.

His thoughts were interrupted in a manner
somewhat ludicrous, by the crazy girl who sat
next to him coolly appropriating to herself his
bowl of soup, having already disposed of her own.

"Look," said Aunt Lucy, quickly, calling
Paul's attention, "you are losing your dinner."

"Never mind," said Paul, amused in spite of
his sadness, "she is quite welcome to it if she
likes it; I can't eat it."

So the dinner began and ended. It was very
brief and simple, occupying less than ten
minutes, and comprising only one course--
unless the soup was considered the first course,
and the bread the second. Paul left the table
as hungry as he came to it. Aunt Lucy's appetite
had become accustomed to the Mudge diet,
and she wisely ate what was set before her,
knowing that there was no hope of anything better.

About an hour after dinner Ben Newcome came
to the door of the Poor House and inquired for Paul.

Mrs. Mudge was in one of her crusty moods.

"You can't see him," said she.

"And why not?" said Ben, resolutely.

"Because he's busy."

"You'd better let me see him," said Ben, sturdily.

"I should like to know what's going to happen
if I don't," said Mrs. Mudge, with wrathful
eyes, and arms akimbo.

"I shall go home and report to my father,"
said Ben, coolly.

"Who is your father?" asked Mrs. Mudge,
for she did not recognize her visitor.

"My father's name is Newcome--Squire Newcome,
some call him."

Now it so happened that Squire Newcome
was Chairman of the Overseers of the Poor,
and in that capacity might remove Mr. Mudge
from office if he pleased. Accordingly Mrs.
Mudge softened down at once, on learning that
Ben was his son.

"Oh," said she, "I didn't know who it was.
I thought it might be some idle boy from the
village who would only take Paul from his
work, but if you have a message from your father----"

This she said to ascertain whether he really
had any message or not, but Ben, who had
in fact come without his father's knowledge,
only bowed, and said, in a patronizing manner,
"I accept your apology, Mrs. Mudge.
Will you have the goodness to send Paul out?"

"Won't you step in?" asked Mrs. Mudge
with unusual politeness.

"No, I believe not."

Paul was accordingly sent out.

He was very glad to meet his schoolmate and
playfellow, Ben, who by his gayety, spiced
though it was with roguery, had made himself
a general favorite in school.

"I say, Paul," said Ben, "I'm sorry to find
you in such a place."

"It isn't very pleasant," said Paul, rather soberly.

"And that woman--Mrs. Mudge--she looks
as if she might be a regular spitfire, isn't she?"

"Rather so."

"I only wish the old gentleman--meaning
of course, the Squire--would take you to live
with me. I want a fellow to play with. But
I say, Paul, go and get your hat, and we'll go
out for a walk."

"I don't know what Mrs. Mudge will say,"
said Paul, who had just come from turning
the handle of a churn.

"Just call Mrs. Mudge, and I'll manage it."

Mrs. Mudge being summoned, made her
appearance at the door.

"I presume, ma'am," said Ben, confidently,
"you will have no objection to Paul's taking
a walk with me while I deliver the message I
am entrusted with."

"Certainly," said Mrs. Mudge, rather
unwillingly, but not venturing to refuse.

"It takes me to come it over the old lady,"
said Ben, when they were out of hearing.

"Now, we'll go a fishing."



Before sunrise the next morning Paul was
awakened by a rude shake from Mr. Mudge,
with an intimation that he had better get up,
as there was plenty of work before him.

By the light of the lantern, for as yet it was
too dark to dispense with it, Paul dressed himself.
Awakened from a sound sleep, he hardly
had time to collect his thoughts, and it was
with a look of bewilderment that he surveyed
the scene about him. As Mrs. Mudge had said,
they were pretty full already, and accordingly
a rude pallet had been spread for him in the
attic, of which, with the exception of nocturnal
marauders, he was the only occupant. Paul
had not, to be sure, been used to very superior
accommodations, and if the bed had not been
quite so hard, he would have got along very
well. As it was he was separated from slats
only by a thin straw bed which did not improve
matters much. It was therefore with a
sense of weariness which slumber had not
dissipated, that Paul arose at the summons
of Mr. Mudge.

When he reached the kitchen, he found that
gentleman waiting for him.

"Do you know how to milk?" was his first salutation.

"I never learned," said Paul.

"Then you'll have to, in double-quick time,"
was the reply, "for I don't relish getting up so
early, and you can take it off my hands."

The two proceeded to the barn, where Paul
received his first lesson in this important
branch of education.

Mr. Mudge kept five cows. One might have
thought he could have afforded a moderate
supply of milk to his boarders, but all, with
the exception of a single quart, was sold to the
milkman who passed the door every morning.

After breakfast, which was on the same
economical plan with the dinner of the day
previous, Paul was set to work planting potatoes,
at which he was kept steadily employed
till the dinner-hour.

Poor Paul! his back ached dreadfully, for he
had never before done any harder work than
trifiing services for his father. But the
inexorable Mr. Mudge was in sight, and however
much he wished, he did not dare to lay aside
his hoe even for a moment.

Twelve o'clock found him standing beside
the dinner-table. He ate more heartily than
before, for his forenoon's labor made even
poorhouse fare palatable.

Mrs. Mudge observed the change, and remarked
in a satisfied tone. "Well, my fine
gentleman, I see you are coming to your
appetite. I thought you wouldn't hold out long."

Paul, who had worn off something of his
diffidence, could not help feeling indignant at
this speech; unaccustomed to be addressed in
this way, the taunt jarred upon his feelings,
but he only bit his lip and preserved silence.

Aunt Lucy, too, who had come to feel a
strong interest in Paul, despite her natural
mildness, could not resist the temptation of
saying with some warmth, "what's the use of
persecuting the child? He has sorrows enough
of his own without your adding to them."

Mrs. Mudge was not a little incensed at this remonstrance.

"I should like to know, ma'am, who
requested you to put in your oar!" she said with
arms akimbo. "Anybody wouldn't think from
your lofty airs that you lived in the poorhouse;

I'll thank you to mind your own business in the future,
and not meddle with what don't concern you."

Aunt Lucy was wise enough to abstain from provoking
further the wrath of her amiable landlady,
and continued to eat her soup in silence.
But Mrs. Mudge neer forgot this interference,
nor the cause of it, and henceforth with the
malignity of a narrow-minded and spiteful woman,
did what she could to make Paul uncomfortable.
Her fertile ingenuity always found some new taunt,
or some new reproach, to assail him with. But Paul,
though at first he felt indignant, learned at last
to treat them as they deserved, with silent disdain.
Assured of the sympathy of those around him, he did
not allow his appetite to be spoiled by any remark
which Mrs. Mudge might offer.

This, of course, only provoked her the more,
and she strove to have his daily tasks increased,
in the amiable hope that his "proud spirit"
might be tamed thereby.

Mr. Mudge, who was somewhat under petticoat government,
readily acceded to his wife's wishes, and henceforth
Paul's strength was taxed to its utmost limit.
He was required to be up with the first gray tint
of dawn and attend to the cattle. From this time until
night, except the brief time devoted to his meals, he was
incessantly occupied. Aunt Lucy's society, his chief comfort,
was thus taken from him; since, in order to rise early,
he was obliged to go to bed as soon as possible after
day's work was finished.

The effects of such incessant labor without
a sufficient supply of nourishing food, may easily
be imagined. The dry bread and meagre soup which
constituted the chief articles of diet in Mrs.
Mudge's economical household, had but one
recommendation,--they were effectual preventives of
gluttony. It was reported that on one occasion a
beggar, apparently famishing with hunger, not
knowing the character of the house, made application
at the door for food. In an unusual fit of
generosity, Mrs. Mudge furnished him with a
slice of bread and a bowl of soup, which, however,
proved so farfrom tempting that the beggar, hungry
as he was, left them almost untouched.

One day, as Paul was working in the field at a
little distance from Mr. Mudge, he became conscious
of a peculiar feeling of giddiness which compelled
him to cling to the hoe for support,--otherwise he
must have fallen.

"No laziness there," exclaimed Mr. Mudge, observing
Paul's cessation from labor, "We can't support you
in idleness."

But the boy paid no regard to this adminition, and
Mr. Mudge, somewhat surprised, advanced toward him
to enforce the command.

Even he was startled at the unusual paleness of
Paul's face, and inquired in a less peremptory tone,
"what's the matter?"

"I feel sick," gasped Paul.

Without another word, Mr. Mudge took Paul up in his
arms and carried him into the house.

"What's the matter, now?" asked his wife, meeting
him at the door.

"The boy feels a little sick, but I guess he'll get
over it by-and by. Haven't you got a little soup
that you can give him? I reckon he's faint, and
that'll brighten him up."

Paul evidently did not think so, for he motioned
away a bowl of the delightful mixture, though it was
proffered him by the fair hands of Mrs. Mudge. The
lady was somewhat surprised, and said, roughly,
"I shouldn't wonder if he was only trying to shirk."

This was too much even for Mr. Mudge; "The boy's
sick," said he, "that's plain enough; if he don't
get better soon, I must send for the doctor,
for work drives, and I can't spare him."

"There's no more danger of his being sick than
mine," said Mrs. Mudge, emphatically; "however, if
you're fool enough to go for a doctor, that's none
of my business. I've heard of feigning sickness
before now, to get rid of work. As to his being
pale, I've been as pale as that myself sometimes
without your troubling yourself very much about me."

"'Twon't be any expense to us," alleged Mr. Mudge,
in a tone of justification, for he felt in some awe
of his wife's temper, which was none of the mildest
when a little roused, "'Twon't be any expense to us;
the town has got to pay for it, and as long as it
will get him ready for work sooner, we might as well
take advantage of it."

This consideration somewhat reconciled Mrs. Mudge to
the step proposed, and as Paul, instead of getting
better, grew rapidly worse, Mr. Mudge thought it
expedient to go immediately for the village
physician. Luckily Dr. Townsend was at home,
and an hour afterwards found him standing
beside the sick boy.

"I don't know but you'll think it rather foolish,
our sending for you, doctor," said Mrs. Mudge, "but
Mudge would have it that the boy was sick and so he
went for you."

"And he did quite right," said Dr. Townsend,
noticing the ghastly
pallor of Paul's face. "He is a very sick boy, and
if I had not been called I would not have answered
for the consequences. How do you feel, my boy?"
he inquired of Paul.

"I feel very weak, and my head swims," was the reply.

"How and when did this attack come on?" asked the doctor,
turning to Mr. Mudge.

"He was taken while hoeing in the field," was the reply.

"Have you kept him at work much there lately?"

"Well, yes, I've been drove by work, and he has
worked there all day latterly."

"At what time has he gone to work in the morning?"

"He has got up to milk the cows about five o'clock.
I used to do it, but since he has learned, I have
indulged myself a little."

"It would have been well for him if he had enjoyed
the same privilege. It is my duty to speak plainly.
The sickness of this boy lies at your door. He has
never been accustomed to hard labor, and yet you have
obliged him to rise earlier and work later than most men.
No wonder he feels weak. Has he a good appetite?"

"Well, rather middlin'," said Mrs. Mudge, "but it's mainly
because he's too dainty to eat what's set before him.
Why, only the first day he was here he turned up his nose
at the bread and soup we had for dinner."

"Is this a specimen of the soup?" asked Dr. Townsend,
taking from the table the bowl which had
been proffered to Paul and declined by him.

Without ceremony he raised to his lips a spoonful of
the soup and tasted it with a wry face.

"Do you often have this soup on the table?" he asked abruptly.

"We always have it once a day, and sometimes twice,"
returned Mrs. Mudge.

"And you call the boy dainty because he don't relish
such stuff as this?" said the doctor, with an
indignation he did not attmpt to conceal. "Why,
I wouldn't be hired to take the contents of that
bowl. It is as bad as any of my own medicines,
and that's saying a good deal. How much nourishment
do you suppose such a mixture would afford? And yet
with little else to sustain him you have worked this
boy like a beast of burden,--worse even, for they at
least have abundance of GOOD food."

Mr. and Mrs. Mudge both winced under this plain
speaking, but they did not dare to give expression
to their anger, for they knew well that Dr. Townsend
was an influential man in town, and, by representing
the affair in the proper quarter, might render their
hold upon their present post a very precarious one.
Mr. Mudge therefore contented himself with muttering
that he guessed he worked as hard as anybody, and he
didn't complain of his fare.

"May I ask you, Mr. Mudge," said the doctor, fixing
his penetrating eye full upon him,"whether you
confine yourself to the food upon which you have
kept this boy?"

"Well," said Mr. Mudge, in some confusion, moving
uneasily in his seat,"I can't say but now and then I
eat something a little different."

"Do you eat at the same table with the inmates of
your house?"

"Well, no," said the embarrassed Mr. Mudge.

"Tell me plainly,--how often do you partake of this soup?"

"I aint your patient," said the man, sullenly, "Why
should you want to know what I eat?"

"I have an object in view. Are you afraid to answer?"

"I don't know as there's anything to be afraid of.
The fact is, I aint partial to soup; it don't agree
with me, and so I don't take it."

"Did you ever consider that this might be the case
with others as well as yourself?" inquired the
doctor with a glance expressive of his contempt for
Mr. Mudge's selfishness. Without waiting for a
reply, Dr. Townsend ordered Paul to be put to bed
immediately, after which he would leave some
medicine for him to take.

Here was another embarassment for the worthy couple.
They hardly knew where to put our hero. It would
not do for them to carry him to his pallet in the
attic,for they felt sure that this would lead
to some more plain speaking on the part of Dr.
Townsend. He was accordingly, though with some
reluctance, placed in a small bedroom upstairs,
which, being more comfortable than those
appropriated to the paupers, had been reserved for a
son at work in a neighboring town, on his occasional
visits home.

"Is there no one in the house who can sit in the
chamber and attend to his occasional wants?" asked
Dr. Townsend. "He will need to take his medicine at
stated periods, and some one will be required
to administer it."

"There's Aunt Lucy Lee," said Mrs. Mudge, "she's
taken a fancy to the boy, and I reckonshe'll do as
well as anybody."

"No one better," returned the doctor, who well knew
Aunt Lucy's kindness of disposition, and was
satisfied that she would take all possible care of
his patient.

So it was arranged that Aunt Lucy should take her
place at Paul's bedside as his nurse.

Paul was sick for many days,--not dangerously so,
but hard work and scanty fare had weakened him to
such a degree that exhausted nature required time to
recruit its wasted forces. But he was not unhappy
or restless. Hour after hour he would lie
patiently, and listen to the clicking of her
knitting needles. Though not provided with
luxurious food, Dr. Townsend had spoken with so much
plainness that Mrs. Mudge felt compelled to modify
her treatment, lest, through his influence, she with
her husband, might lose their situation. This
forced forbearance, however, was far from warming
her heart towards its object. Mrs. Mudge was a
hard, practical woman, and her heart was so
encrusted with worldliness and self-interest that
she might as well have been without one.

One day, as Paul lay quietly gazing at Aunt Lucy's
benevolent face, and mentally contrasting it with
that of Mrs. Mudge, whose shrill voice could be
heard form below, he was seized with a sudden desire
to learn something of her past history.

"How long have you been here, Aunt Lucy?" he inquired.

She looked up from her knitting, and sighed as she
answered, "A long and weary time to look back upon,
Paul. I have been here ten years."

"Ten years," repeated Paul, thoughtfully, "and I am
thirteen. So you have been here nearly all my
lifetime. Has Mr. Mudge been here all that time?"

"Only the last two years. Before that we had Mrs.

"Did she treat you any better than Mrs. Mudge?"

"Any better than Mrs. Mudge!" vociferated that lady,
who had ascended the stairs without being heard by
Aunt Lucy of Paul, and had thus caught the last
sentence. "Any better than Mrs. Mudge!" she
repeated, thoroughly provoked. "So you've been
talking about me, you trollop, have you? I'll come
up with you, you may depend upon that. That's to
pay for my giving you tea Sunday night, is it?
Perhaps you'll get some more. It's pretty well in
paupers conspiring together because they aint
treated like princes and princesses. Perhaps you'd
like to got boarded with Queen Victoria."

The old lady sat very quiet during this tirade. She
had been the subject of similar invective before,
and knew that it would do no good to oppose Mrs.
Mudge in her present excited state.

"I don't wonder you haven't anything to say," said
the infuriated dame. "I should think you'd want to
hide your face in shame, you trollop."

Paul was not quite so patient as his attendant. Her
kindness had produced such an impression on him,
that Mrs. Mudge, by her taunts, stirred up his

"She's no more of a trollop than you are," said he,
with spirit.

Mrs. Mudge whirled round at this unexpected attack,
and shook her fist menacingly at Paul--

"So, you've put in your oar, you little jackanapes,"
said she, "If you're well enough to be impudent
you're well enough to go to work. You aint a goin'
to lie here idle much longer, I can tell you. If
you deceive Dr. Townsend, and make him believe
you're sick, you can't deceive me. No doubt you
feel mighty comfortable, lyin' here with nothing to
do, while I'm a slavin' myself to death down stairs,
waitin' upon you; (this was a slight exaggeration,
as Aunt Lucy took the entire charge of Paul,
including the preparation of his food;) but you'd
better make the most of it, for you won't lie
here much longer. You'll miss not bein' able to
talk about me, won't you?"

Mrs. Mudge paused a moment as if expecting an answer
to her highly sarcastic question, but Paul felt that
no advantage would be gained by saying more.. He was
not naturally a quick-tempered buy, and had only
been led to this little ebullition by the wanton
attack by Mrs. Mudge.

This lady, after standing a moment as if defying the
twain to a further contest, went out, slamming the
door violently after her.

"You did wrong to provoke her, Paul," said Aunt
Lucy, gravely.

"How could I help it?" asked Paul, earnestly. "If
she had only abused ME, I should not have cared so
much, but when she spoke about you, who have been so
kind to me, I could not be silent."

"I thank you, Paul, for your kind feeling," said the
old lady, gently, "but we must learn to bear and forbear.
The best of us have our faults and failings."

"What are yours, Aunt Lucy?"

"O, a great many."

"Such as what?"

"I am afraid I am sometimes discontented with the
station which God has assigned me."

"I don't think you can be very much to blame for
that. I should never learn to be contented here if
I lived to the age of Methuselah."

Paul lay quite still for an hour or more. During
that time he formed a determination which will be
announced in the next chapter.



At the close of the last chapter it was stated that
Paul had come to a determination.

This was,--TO RUN AWAY.

That he had good reason for this we have already

He was now improving rapidly, and only waited till
he was well enough to put his design into execution.

"Aunt Lucy," said he one day, "I've got something
to tell you."

The old lady looked up inquiringly.

"It's something I've been thinking of a long
time,--at least most of the time since I've been
sick. It isn't pleasant for me to stay here, and
I've pretty much made up my mind that I sha'n't."

"Where will you go?" asked the old lady, dropping
her work in surprise.

"I don't know of any particular place, but I should
be better off most anywhere than here."

"But you are so young, Paul."

"God will take care of me, Aunt Lucy,--mother used
to tell me that. Besides, here I have no hope of
learning anything or improving my condition. Then
again, if I stay here, I can never do what father
wished me to do."

"What is that, Paul?"

Paul told the story of his father's indebtedness to
Squire Conant, and the cruel letter which the Squire
had written.

"I mean to pay that debt," he concluded firmly. "I
won't let anybody say that my father kept them out
of their money. There is no chance here; somewhere
else I may find work and money."

"It is a great undertaking for a boy like you,
Paul," said Aunt Lucy, thoughtfully. "To whom is
the money due?"

"Squire Conant of Cedarville."

Aunt Lucy seemed surprised and agitated by the
mention of this name.

"Paul," said she, "Squire Conant is my brother."

"Your brother!" repeated he in great surprise.
"Then why does he allow you to live here? He is
rich enough to take care of you."

"It is a long story," said the old lady, sadly.
"All that you will be interested to know is that I
married against the wishes of my family. My husband
died and I was left destitute. My brother has
never noticed me since."

"It is a great shame," said Paul.

"We won't judge him, Paul. Have you fixed upon
any time to go?"

"I shall wait a few days till I get stronger. Can
you tell me how
far it is to New York?"

"O, a great distance; a hundred miles at least. You
can't think of going so far as that?"

"I think it would be the best plan," said Paul. "In
a great city like New York there must be a great
many things to do which I can't do here. I don't
feel strong enough to work on a farm. Besides,
I don't like it. O, it must be a fine thing to live
in a great city. Then too," pursued Paul, his face
lighting up with the hopeful confidence of youth, "I
may become rich. If I do, Aunt Lucy, I will build a
fine house, and you shall come and live with me."

Aunt Lucy had seen more of life than Paul, and was
less sanguine. The thought came to her that her
life was already declining while his was but just
begun, and in the course of nature, even if his
bright dreams should be realized, she could hardly
hope to live long enough to see it. But of this she
said nothing. She would not for the world have
dimmed the brightness of his anticipations by the
expression of a single doubt.

"I wish you all success, Paul, and I thank you for
wishing me to share in your good fortune. God helps
those who help themselves, and he will help you if
you only deserve it. I shall miss you very
much when you are gone. It will seem more lonely
than ever."

"If it were not for you, Aunt Lucy, I should not
mind going at all, but I shall be sorry to leave you

"God will care for both of us, my dear boy. I shall
hope to hear from you now and then, and if I learn
that you are prosperous and happy, I shall be better
contented with my own lot. But have you thought of
all the labor and weariness that you will have to
encounter? It is best to consider well all this,
before entering upon such an undertaking."

"I have thought of all that, and if there were any
prospect of my being happy here, I might stay for
the present. But you know how Mrs. Mudge has
treated me, and how she feels towards me now."

"I acknowledge, Paul, that it has proved a
hard apprenticeship, and perhaps it might be
made yet harder if you should stay longer.
You must let me know when you are going, I
shall want to bid you good-by."

"No fear that I shall forget that, Aunt Lucy.
Next to my mother you have been most kind to me,
and I love you for it."

Lightly pressing her lips to Paul's forehead
Aunt Lucy left the room to conceal the emotion
called forth by his approaching departure. Of
all the inmates of the establishment she had
felt most closely drawn to the orphan boy,
whose loneliness and bereavement had appealed
to her woman's heart. This feeling had
been strengthened by the care she had been
called to bestow upon him in his illness, for it
is natural to love those whom we have benefited.
But Aunt Lucy was the most unselfish
of living creatures, and the idea of dissuading
Paul from a course which he felt was right
never occurred to her. She determined that
she would do what she could to further his
plans, now that he had decided to go. Accordingly
she commenced knitting him a pair of
stockings, knowing that this would prove a
useful present. This came near being the
means of discovering Paul's plan to Mrs.
Mudge The latter, who notwithstanding her
numerous duties, managed to see everything
that was going on, had her attention directed
to Aunt Lucy's work.

"Have you finished the stockings that I set
you to knitting for Mr. Mudge?" she asked.

"No," said Aunt Lucy, in some confusion.

"Then whose are those, I should like to
know? Somebody of more importance than
my husband, I suppose."

"They are for Paul," returned the old lady,
in some uneasiness.

"Paul!" repeated Mrs. Mudge, in her haste
putting a double quantity of salaeratus into the
bread she was mixing; "Paul's are they? And
who asked you to knit him a pair, I should like
to be informed?"

"No one."

"Then what are you doing it for?"

"I thought he might want them."

"Mighty considerate, I declare. And I
shouldn't be at all surprised if you were knitting
them with the yarn I gave you for Mr.
Mudge's stockings."

"You are mistaken," said Aunt Lucy,

"Oh, you're putting on your airs, are you?
I'll tell you what, Madam, you'd better put
those stockings away in double-quick time, and
finish my husband's, or I'll throw them into
the fire, and Paul Prescott may wait till he
goes barefoot before he gets them."

There was no alternative. Aunt Lucy was
obliged to obey, at least while her persecutor
was in the room. When alone for any length
of time she took out Paul's stockings from
under her apron, and worked on them till the
approaching steps of Mrs. Mudge warned her
to desist.


Three days passed. The shadows of twilight
were already upon the earth. The paupers
were collected in the common room appropriated
to their use. Aunt Lucy had suspended
her work in consequence of the darkness,
for in this economical household a lamp
was considered a useless piece of extravagance.
Paul crept quietly to her side, and whispered
in tones audible to her alone, "I AM GOING TO-

"To-morrow! so soon?"

"Yes," said Paul, "I am as ready now as
I shall ever be. I wanted to tell you, because
I thought maybe you might like to know that
this is the last evening we shall spend together
at present."

"Do you go in the morning?"

"Yes, Aunt Lucy, early in the morning. Mr.
Mudge usually calls me at five; I must be gone
an hour before that time. I suppose I must
bid you good-by to-night."

"Not to-night, Paul; I shall be up in the
morning to see you go."

"But if Mrs. Mudge finds it out she will
abuse you."

"I am used to that, Paul," said Aunt Lucy,
with a sorrowful smile. "I have borne it
many times, and I can again. But I can't
lie quiet and let you go without one word
of parting. You are quite determined to go?"

"Quite, Aunt Lucy. I never could stay
here. There is no pleasure in the present, and
no hope for the future. I want to see something
of life," and Paul's boyish figure dilated
with enthusiasm.

"God grant that you do not see too much!"
said Aunt Lucy, half to herself.

"Is the world then, so very sad a place?"
asked Paul.

"Both joy and sorrow are mingled in the
cup of human life," said Aunt Lucy, solemnly:

"Which shall preponderate it is partly in our
power to determine. He who follows the path
of duty steadfastly, cannot be wholly miserable,
whatever misfortunes may come upon
him. He will be sustained by the conviction
that his own errors have not brought them
upon him."

"I will try to do right," said Paul, placing
his hand in that of his companion, "and if
ever I am tempted to do wrong, I will think of
you and of my mother, and that thought shall
restrain me."

"It's time to go bed, folks," proclaimed Mrs
Mudge, appearing at the door. "I can't have
you sitting up all night, as I've no doubt you'd
like to do."

It was only eight o'clock, but no one thought
of interposing an objection. The word of
Mrs. Mudge was law in her household, as
even her husband was sometimes made aware.

All quietly rose from their seats and repaired
to bed. It was an affecting sight to
watch the tottering gait of those on whose
heads the snows of many winters had drifted
heavily, as they meekly obeyed the behest of
one whose coarse nature forbade her sympathizing
with them in their clouded age, and
many infirmities.

"Come," said she, impatient of their slow
movements, "move a little quicker, if it's
perfectly convenient. Anybody'd think you'd
been hard at work all day, as I have. You're
about the laziest set I ever had anything to do
with. I've got to be up early in the morning,
and can't stay here dawdling."

"She's got a sweet temper," said Paul, in a
whisper, to Aunt Lucy.

"Hush!" said the old lady. "She may hear you."

"What's that you're whispering about?"
said Mrs. Mudge, suspiciously. "Something
you're ashamed to have heard, most likely.

Paul thought it best to remain silent.

"To-morrow morning at four!" he whispered
to Aunt Lucy, as he pressed her hand in
the darkness.



Paul ascended the stairs to his hard pallet
for the last time. For the last time! There is
sadness in the thought, even when the future
which lies before us glows with brighter colors
than the past has ever worn. But to Paul,
whose future was veiled in uncertainty, and
who was about to part with the only friend
who felt an interest in his welfare, this
thought brought increased sorrow.

He stood before the dirt-begrimed window
through which alone the struggling sunbeams
found an inlet into the gloomy little attic, and
looked wistfully out upon the barren fields
that surrounded the poorhouse. Where would
he be on the morrow at that time? He did not
know. He knew little or nothing of the great
world without, yet his resolution did not for
an instant falter. If it had, the thought of
Mrs. Mudge would have been enough to remove
all his hesitation.

He threw himself on his hard bed, and a few
minutes brought him that dreamless sleep
which comes so easily to the young.

Meanwhile Aunt Lucy, whose thoughts were
also occupied with Paul's approaching departure,
had taken from the pocket of her OTHER
dress--for she had but two--something
wrapped in a piece of brown paper. One by one
she removed the many folds in which it was
enveloped, and came at length to the contents.

It was a coin.

"Paul will need some money, poor boy,"

Book of the day: Paul Prescott's Charge by Horatio Alger - Full Text Free Book (Part 1/6)