Part 2 out of 6
said she, softly to herself, "I will give him
this. It will never do me any good, and it may
be of some service to him."
So saying she looked carefully at the coin in
But what made her start, and utter a half
Instead of the gold eagle, the accumulation
of many years, which she had been saving for
some extraordinary occasion like the presents
she held in her hand--a copper cent.
"I have been robbed," she exclaimed
indignantly in the suddenness of her surprise.
"What's the matter now?" inquired Mrs
Mudge, appearing at the door, "Why are you
not in bed, Aunt Lucy Lee? How dare you
disobey my orders?"
"I have been robbed," exclaimed the old
lady in unwonted excitement.
"Of what, pray?" asked Mrs. Mudge, with a sneer.
"I had a gold eagle wrapped up in that paper,"
returned Aunt Lucy, pointing to the fragments
on the floor, "and now, to-night, when I come
to open it, I find but this cent."
"A likely story," retorted Mrs. Mudge, "very
likely, indeed, that a common pauper should
have a gold eagle. If you found a cent in the
paper, most likely that's what you put there.
You're growing old and forgetful, so don't get
foolish and flighty. You'd better go to bed."
"But I did have the gold, and it's been stolen,"
persisted Aunt Lucy, whose disappointment was
the greater because she intended the money for Paul.
"Again!" exclaimed Mrs. Mudge. "Will you never
have done with this folly? Even if you did have
the gold, which I don't for an instant believe,
you couldn't keep it. A pauper has no right
to hold property."
"Then why did the one who stole the little I had
leave me this?" said the old lady, scornfully,
holding up the cent which had been substituted
for the gold.
"How should I know?" exclaimed Mrs.
Mudge, wrathfully. "You talk as if you
thought I had taken your trumpery money."
"So you did!" chimed in an unexpected
voice, which made Mrs. Mudge start nervously.
It was the young woman already mentioned,
who was bereft of reason, but who at times,
as often happens in such cases, seemed gifted
with preternatural acuteness.
"So you did. I saw you, I did; I saw you
creep up when you thought nobody was looking,
and search her pocket. You opened that
paper and took out the bright yellow piece, and
put in another. You didn't think I was looking
at you, ha! ha! How I laughed as I stood behind
the door and saw you tremble for fear some one
would catch you thieving. You didn't think of me,
dear, did you?"
And the wild creature burst into an unmeaning laugh.
Mrs. Mudge stood for a moment mute, overwhelmed
by this sudden revelation. But for the darkness,
Aunt Lucy could have seen the sudden flush which
overspread her face with the crimson hue of detected guilt.
But this was only for a moment. It was quickly succeeded
by a feeling of intense anger towards the unhappy creature
who had been the means of exposing her.
"I'll teach you to slander your betters, you crazy fool,"
she exclaimed, in a voice almost inarticulate with passion,
as she seized her rudely by the arm, and dragged her violently
from the room.
She returned immediately.
"I suppose," said she, abruptly, confronting Aunt Lucy,
"that you are fool enough to believe her ravings?"
"I bring no accusation," said the old lady, calmly,
"If your conscience acquits you, it is not for me
to accuse you."
"But what do you think?" persisted Mrs. Mudge,
whose consciousness of guilt did not leave her quite at ease.
"I cannot read the heart," said Aunt Lucy,
composedly. "I can only say, that, pauper as
I am, I would not exchange places with the one
who has done this deed."
"Do you mean me?" demanded Mrs. Mudge.
"You can tell best."
"I tell you what, Aunt Lucy Lee," said Mrs.
Mudge, her eyes blazing with anger, "If you
dare insinuate to any living soul that I stole
your paltry money, which I don't believe you
ever had, I will be bitterly revenged upon you."
She flaunted out of the room, and Aunt Lucy,
the first bitterness of her disappointment over,
retired to bed, and slept more tranquilly
than the unscrupulous woman who had robbed her.
At a quarter before four Paul started from
his humble couch, and hastily dressed himself,
took up a little bundle containing all his
scanty stock of clothing, and noiselessly descended
the two flights of stairs which separated
him from the lower story. Here he paused
a moment for Aunt Lucy to appear.
Her sharp ears had distinguished his stealthy
steps as he passed her door, and she came
down to bid him good-by. She had in her
hands a pair of stockings which she slipped
into his bundle.
"I wish I had something else to give you,
Paul," she said, "but you know that I am not
"Dear Aunt Lucy," said Paul, kissing her,
"you are my only friend on earth. You have
been very kind to me, and I never will forget
you, NEVER! By-and-by, when I am rich, I will
build a fine house, and you will come and live
with me, won't you?"
Paul's bright anticipations, improbable as
they were, had the effect of turning his
companion's thoughts into a more cheerful channel.
She bent down and kissed him, whispering softly,
"Yes, I will, Paul."
"Then it's a bargain," said he, joyously,
"Mind you don't forget it. I shall come
for you one of these days when you least
"Have you any money?" inquired Aunt Lucy.
Paul shook his head.
"Then," said she, drawing from her finger a
gold ring which had held its place for many
long years, "here is something which will bring
you a little money if you are ever in distress."
Paul hung back.
"I would rather not take it, indeed I would,"
he said, earnestly, "I would rather go hungry
for two or three days than sell your ring.
Besides, I shall not need it; God will
provide for me."
"But you need not sell it," urged Aunt Lucy,
"unless it is absolutely necessary. You can
take it and keep it in remembrance of me.
Keep it till you see me again, Paul. It will be
a pledge to me that you will come back again some day."
"On that condition I will take it," said Paul,
"and some day I will bring it back."
A slight noise above, as of some one stirring
in sleep, excited the apprehensions of the two,
and warned them that it was imprudent for
them to remain longer in conversation.
After a hurried good-by, Aunt Lucy quietly
went upstairs again, and Paul, shouldering
his bundle, walked rapidly away.
The birds, awakening from their night's
repose, were beginning to carol forth their rich
songs of thanksgiving for the blessing of a new
day. From the flowers beneath his feet and the
blossom-laden branches above his head, a delicious
perfume floated out upon the morning air, and filled
the heart of the young wanderer with a sense of the
joyousness of existence, and inspired him with
a hopeful confidence in the future.
For the first time he felt that he belonged to
himself. At the age of thirteen he had taken
his fortune in his own hand, and was about to
mold it as best he might.
There were care, and toil, and privations before
him, no doubt, but in that bright morning
hour he could harbor only cheerful and trusting
thoughts. Hopefully he looked forward
to the time when he could fulfil his father's
dying injunction, and lift from his name the
burden of a debt unpaid. Then his mind reverting
to another thought, he could not help
smiling at the surprise and anger of Mr.
Mudge, when he should find that his assistant
had taken French leave. He thought he should
like to be concealed somewhere where he could
witness the commotion excited by his own
departure. But as he could not be in two places
at the same time, he must lose that satisfaction.
He had cut loose from the Mudge household,
as he trusted, forever. He felt that a
new and brighter life was opening before him.
A FRIEND IN NEED.
Our hero did not stop till he had put a good
five miles between himself and the poorhouse.
He knew that it would not be long before Mr.
Mudge would discover his absence, and the
thought of being carried back was doubly
distasteful to him now that he had, even for a
short time, felt the joy of being his own master.
His hurried walk, taken in the fresh morning
air, gave him quite a sharp appetite. Luckily
he had the means of gratifying it. The night
before he had secreted half his supper, knowing
that he should need it more the next morning.
He thought he might now venture to sit
down and eat it.
At a little distance from the road was a
spring, doubtless used for cattle, since it was
situated at the lower end of a pasture. Close
beside and bending over it was a broad, branching
oak, which promised a cool and comfortable shelter.
"That's just the place for me," thought
Paul, who felt thirsty as well as hungry, "I
think I will take breakfast here and rest awhile
before I go any farther."
So saying he leaped lightly over the rail
fence, and making his way to the place indicated,
sat down in the shadow of the tree.
Scooping up some water in the hollow of his
hand, he drank a deep and refreshing draught.
He next proceeded to pull out of his pocket a
small package, which proved to contain two
small pieces of bread. His long morning walk
had given him such an appetite that he was not
long in despatching all he had. It is said by
some learned physicians, who no doubt understand
the matter, that we should always rise
from the table with an appetite. Probably
Paul had never heard of this rule. Nevertheless,
he seemed in a fair way of putting it into
practice, for the best of reasons, because he
could not help it.
His breakfast, though not the most inviting,
being simply unbuttered bread and rather dry
at that, seemed more delicious than ever before,
but unfortunately there was not enough
of it. However, as there seemed likely to be
no more forthcoming, he concluded in default
of breakfast to lie down under the tree for a
few minutes before resuming his walk.
Though he could not help wondering vaguely
where his dinner was to come from, as that
time was several hours distant, he wisely
decided not to anticipate trouble till it came.
Lying down under the tree, Paul began to
consider what Mr. Mudge would say when he
discovered that he had run away.
"He'll have to milk the cows himself,"
thought Paul. "He won't fancy that much.
Won't Mrs. Mudge scold, thought? I'm glad
I shan't be within hearing."
It was a boy's voice that Paul heard.
Looking up he saw a sedate company of cows
entering the pasture single file through an
aperture made by letting down the bars. Behind
them walked a boy of about his own size,
flourishing a stout hickory stick. The cows
went directly to the spring from which Paul
had already drunk. The young driver looked
at our hero with some curiosity, wondering,
doubtless, what brought him there so early in
the morning. After a little hesitation he said,
remarking Paul's bundle, "Where are you
"I don't know exactly," said Paul, who was
not quite sure whether it would be politic to
avow his destination.
"Don't know?" returned the other,
"Not exactly; I may go to New York."
"New York! That's a great ways off. Do
you know the way there?"
"No, but I can find it."
"Are you going all alone?" asked his new
acquaintance, who evidently thought Paul had
undertaken a very formidable journey.
"Are you going to walk all the way?"
"Yes, unless somebody offers me a ride now and then."
"But why don't you ride in the stage, or in the cars?
You would get there a good deal quicker."
"One reason," said Paul, hesitating a little,
"is because I have no money to pay for riding."
"Then how do you expect to live? Have
you had any breakfast, this morning?"
"I brought some with me, and just got
through eating it when you came along."
"And where do you expect to get any dinner?"
pursued his questioner, who was evidently
not a little puzzled by the answers he received.
"I don't know," returned Paul.
His companion looked not a little confounded
at this view of the matter, but presently
a bright thought struck him.
"I shouldn't wonder," he said, shrewdly,
"if you were running away."
Paul hesitated a moment. He knew that his
case must look a little suspicious, thus unexplained,
and after a brief pause for reflection
determined to take the questioner into his
confidence. He did this the more readily because
his new acquaintance looked very pleasant.
"You've guessed right," he said; "if you'll
promise not to tell anybody, I'll tell you all
This was readily promised, and the boy who
gave his name as John Burgess, sat down beside
Paul, while he, with the frankness of boyhood,
gave a circumstantial account of his
father's death, and the ill-treatment he had
met with subsequently.
"Do you come from Wrenville?" asked
John, interested. "Why, I've got relations
there. Perhaps you know my cousin, Ben Newcome."
"Is Ben Newcome your cousin? O yes, I
know him very well; he's a first-rate fellow."
"He isn't much like his father."
"Not at all. If he was"--
"You wouldn't like him so well. Uncle
talks a little too much out of the dictionary,
and walks so straight that he bends backward.
But I say, Paul, old Mudge deserves to be
choked, and Mrs. Mudge should be obliged to
swallow a gallon of her own soup. I don't
know but that would be worse than choking.
I wouldn't have stayed so long if I had been in
"I shouldn't," said Paul, "if it hadn't been
for Aunt Lucy."
"Was she an aunt of yours?"
"No, but we used to call her so, She's the
best friend I've got, and I don't know but the
only one," said Paul, a little sadly.
"No, she isn't," said John, quickly; "I'll be
your friend, Paul. Sometime, perhaps, I shall
go to New York, myself, and then I will come
and see you. Where do you expect to be?"
"I don't know anything about the city," said
Paul, "but if you come, I shall be sure to see
you somewhere. I wish you were going
Neither Paul nor his companion had much
idea of the extent of the great metropolis, or
they would not have taken it so much as a matter
of course that, being in the same place,
they should meet each other.
Their conversation was interrupted by the
ringing of a bell from a farmhouse within sight.
"That's our breakfast-bell," said John
rising from the grass. "It is meant for me.
I suppose they wonder what keeps me so long.
Won't you come and take breakfast with me, Paul?"
"I guess not," said Paul, who would have
been glad to do so had he followed the promptings
of his appetite. "I'm afraid your folks
would ask me questions, and then it would be
found out that I am running away."
"I didn't think of that," returned John,
after a pause. "You haven't got any dinner
with you?" he said a moment after.
"Well, I'll tell you what I'll do. Come with me
as far as the fence, and lie down there till I've
finished breakfast. Then I'll bring something out for you,
and maybe I'll walk along a little way with you."
"You are very kind," said Paul, gratefully.
"Oh, nonsense," said John, "that's nothing.
Besides, you know we are going to be friends."
"John! breakfast's ready."
"There's Nelson calling me," said John, hurriedly.
"I must leave you; there's the fence; lie down there,
and I'll be back in a jiffy."
"John, I say, why don't you come?"
"I'm coming. You mustn't think everybody's
got such a thundering great appetite as you, Nelson."
"I guess you've got enough to keep you from
pining away," said Nelson, good-naturedly,
"you're twice as fat as I am."
"That's because I work harder," said John,
The brothers went in to breakfast.
But a few minutes elapsed before John
reappeared, bearing under his arm a parcel
wrapped up in an old newspaper. He came up
panting with the haste he had made.
"It didn't take you long to eat breakfast,"
"No, I hurried through it; I thought you
would get tired of waiting. And now I'll walk
along with you a little ways. But wait here's
something for you."
So saying he unrolled the newspaper and
displayed a loaf of bread, fresh and warm, which
looked particularly inviting to Paul, whose
scanty breakfast had by no means satisfied his
appetite. Besides this, there was a loaf of
molasses ginger-bread, with which all who
were born in the country, or know anything of
New England housekeeping, are familiar.
"There," said John, "I guess that'll be
enough for your dinner."
"But how did you get it without having any
questions asked?" inquired our hero.
"Oh," said John, "I asked mother for them,
and when she asked what I wanted of them, I
told her that I'd answer that question to-morrow.
You see I wanted to give you a chance
to get off out of the way, though mother
wouldn't tell, even if she knew."
"All right," said Paul, with satisfaction.
He could not help looking wistfully at the
bread, which looked very inviting to one
accustomed to poorhouse fare.
"If you wouldn't mind," he said hesitating,
"I would like to eat a little of the bread now."
"Mind, of course not," said John, breaking
off a liberal slice. "Why didn't I think of
that before? Walking must have given you a
John looked on with evident approbation,
while Paul ate with great apparent appetite.
"There," said he with a sigh of gratification,
as he swallowed the last morsel, "I haven't
tasted anything so good for a long time."
"Is it as good as Mrs. Mudge's soup?" asked
"Almost," returned Paul, smiling.
We must now leave the boys to pursue their
way, and return to the dwelling from which
our hero had so unceremoniously taken his departure,
and from which danger now threatened him.
A CLOUD IN THE MUDGE HORIZON.
Mr. Mudge was accustomed to call Paul at
five o'clock, to milk the cows and perform
other chores. He himself did not rise till an
hour later. During Paul's sickness, he was
obliged to take his place,--a thing he did not
relish overmuch. Now that our hero had
recovered, he gladly prepared to indulge himself
in an extra nap.
"Paul!" called Mr. Mudge from the bottom
of the staircase leading up into the attic, "it's
five o'clock; time you were downstairs."
Mr. Mudge waited for an answer, but none came.
"Paul!" repeated Mr. Mudge in a louder
tone, "it's time to get up; tumble out there."
Again there was no answer.
At first, Mr. Mudge thought it might be in
consequence of Paul's sleeping so soundly, but
on listening attentively, he could not distinguish
the deep and regular breathing which
usually accompanies such slumber.
"He must be sullen," he concluded, with a feeling
of irritation. "If he is, I'll teach him----"
Without taking time to finish the sentence,
he bounded up the rickety staircase, and
turned towards the bed with the intention of
giving our hero a smart shaking.
He looked with astonishment at the empty
bed. "Is it possible," he thought, "that Paul
has already got up? He isn't apt to do so
before he is called."
At this juncture, Mrs. Mudge, surprised at
her husband's prolonged absence, called from
below, "Mr. Mudge!"
"What in the name of wonder keeps you up
there so long?"
"Just come up and see."
Mrs. Mudge did come up. Her husband
pointed to the empty bed.
"What do you think of that?" he asked.
"What about it?" she inquired, not quite
"About that boy, Paul. When I called him
I got no answer, so I came up, and behold he is
among the missing."
"You don't think he's run away, do you?"
asked Mrs. Mudge startled.
"That is more than I know."
"I'll see if his clothes are here," said his
wife, now fully aroused.
Her search was unavailing. Paul's clothes
had disappeared as mysteriously as their owner.
"It's a clear case," said Mr. Mudge, shaking
his head; "he's gone. I wouldn't have lost
him for considerable. He was only a boy, but
I managed to get as much work out of him
as a man. The question is now, what shall we
do about it?"
"He must be pursued," said Mrs. Mudge,
with vehemence, "I'll have him back if it costs
me twenty dollars. I'll tell you what, husband,"
she exclaimed, with a sudden light
breaking in upon her, "if there's anybody in
this house knows where he's gone, it is Aunt
Lucy Lee. Only last week I caught her knitting
him a pair of stockings. I might have
known what it meant if I hadn't been a
"Ha, ha! So you might, if you hadn't been
a fool!" echoed a mocking voice.
Turning with sudden anger, Mrs. Mudge
beheld the face of the crazy girl peering up at
her from below.
This turned her thoughts into a different channel.
"I'll teach you what I am," she exclaimed,
wrathfully descending the stairs more rapidly
than she had mounted them, "and if you know
anything about the little scamp, I'll have it
out of you."
The girl narrowly succeeded in eluding the
grasp of her pursuer. But, alas! for Mrs.
Mudge. In her impetuosity she lost her footing,
and fell backward into a pail of water
which had been brought up the night before
and set in the entry for purposes of ablution.
More wrathful than ever, Mrs. Mudge bounced
into her room and sat down in her dripping
garments in a very uncomfortable frame of
mind. As for Paul, she felt a personal dislike
for him, and was not sorry on some accounts
to have him out of the house. The knowledge,
however, that he had in a manner defied her
authority by running away, filled her with an
earnest desire to get him back, if only to prove
that it was not to be defied with impunity.
Hoping to elicit some information from
Aunt Lucy, who, she felt sure, was in Paul's
confidence, she paid her a visit.
"Well, here's a pretty goings on," she
commenced, abruptly. Finding that Aunt Lucy
manifested no curiosity on the subject, she
continued, in a significant tone, "Of course, YOU
don't know anything about it."
"I can tell better when I know what you
refer to," said the old lady calmly.
"Oh, you are very ignorant all at once. I
suppose you didn't know Paul Prescott had
"I am not surprised," said the old lady, in
the same quiet manner.
Mrs. Mudge had expected a show of
astonishment, and this calmness disconcerted her.
"You are not surprised!" she retorted. "I
presume not, since you knew all about it
beforehand. That's why you were knitting him
some stockings. Deny it, if you dare."
"I have no disposition to deny it."
"You haven't!" exclaimed the questioner,
almost struck dumb with this audacity.
"No," said Aunt Lucy. "Why should I?
There was no particular inducement for him
to stay here. Wherever he goes, I hope he will
meet with good friends and good treatment."
"As much as to say he didn't find them here.
Is that what you mean?"
"I have no charges to bring."
"But I have," said Mrs. Mudge, her eyes
lighting with malicious satisfaction. "Last
night you missed a ten-dollar gold piece,
which you saw was stolen from you. This
morning it appears that Paul Prescott has run
away. I charge him with the theft."
"You do not, can not believe this," said the
old lady, uneasily.
"Of course I do," returned Mrs. Mudge,
triumphantly, perceiving her advantage. "I
have no doubt of it, and when we get the boy
back, he shall be made to confess it."
Aunt Lucy looked troubled, much to the
gratification of Mrs. Mudge. It was but for a
short time, however. Rising from her seat,
she stood confronting Mrs. Mudge, and said
quietly, but firmly, "I have no doubt, Mrs.
Mudge, you are capable of doing what you say.
I would advise you, however, to pause. You
know, as well as I do, that Paul is incapable
of this theft. Even if he were wicked enough
to form the idea, he would have no need, since
it was my intention to GIVE him this money.
Who did actually steal the gold, you PERHAPS
know better than I. Should it be necessary, I
shall not hesitate to say so. I advise you not
to render it necessary."
The threat which lay in these words was
understood. It came with the force of a
sudden blow to Mrs. Mudge, who had supposed it
would be no difficult task to frighten and
silence Aunt Lucy. The latter had always been
so yielding in all matters relating to herself,
that this intrepid championship of Paul's
interests was unlooked for. The tables were
completely turned. Pale with rage, and a
mortified sense of having been foiled with her
own weapons, Mrs. Mudge left the room.
Meanwhile her husband milked the cows,
and was now occupied in performing certain
other duties that could not be postponed, being
resolved, immediately after breakfast was
over, to harness up and pursue the runaway.
"Well, did you get anything out of the old
lady?" he inquired, as he came from the barn
with the full milk-pails.
"She said she knew beforehand that he was going."
"Eh!" said Mr. Mudge, pricking up his ears,
"did she say where?"
"No, and she won't. She knit him a pair
of stockings to help him off, and doesn't pretend
to deny it. She's taken a wonderful fancy
to the young scamp, and has been as obstinate
as could be ever since he has been here."
"If I get him back," said Mr. Mudge, "he
shall have a good flogging, if I am able to give
him one, and she shall be present to see it."
"That's right," said Mrs. Mudge, approvingly,
"when are you going to set out after him?"
"Right after breakfast. So be spry, and get
it ready as soon as you can."
Under the stimulus of this inspiring motive,
Mrs. Mudge bustled about with new energy,
and before many minutes the meal was in
readiness. It did not take long to dispatch it.
Immediately afterwards, Mr. Mudge harnessed up,
as he had determined, and started off in pursuit
of our hero.
In the meantime the two boys had walked
leisurely along, conversing on various subjects.
"When you get to the city, Paul," said John,
"I shall want to hear from you. Will you
write to me?"
Paul promised readily.
"You can direct to John Burges, Burrville.
The postmaster knows me, and I shall be sure
to get it."
"I wish you were going with me," said Paul.
"Sometimes when I think that I am all alone
it discourages me. It would be so much pleasanter
to have some one with me."
"I shall come sometime," said John, "when
I am a little older. I heard father say
something the other day about my going into a
store in the city. So we may meet again."
"I hope we shall."
They were just turning a bend of the road,
when Paul chanced to look backward. About
a quarter of a mile back he descried a horse
and wagon wearing a familiar look. Fixing
his eyes anxiously upon them, he was soon
made aware that his suspicions were only too
well founded. It was Mr. Mudge, doubtless in
quest of him.
"What shall I do?" he asked, hurriedly of
"What's the matter?"
This was quickly explained.
John was quickwitted, and he instantly
decided upon the course proper to be pursued.
On either side of the road was a growth of
underbrush so thick as to be almost impenetrable.
"Creep in behind there, and be quick about
it," directed John, "there is no time to lose."
"There," said he, after Paul had followed
his advice, "if he can see you now he must
have sharp eyes."
"Won't you come in too?"
"Not I," said John, "I am anxious to see
this Mr. Mudge, since you have told me so
much about him. I hope he will ask me some
"What will you tell him?"
"Trust me for that. Don't say any more.
He's close by."
MR. MUDGE MEETS HIS MATCH.
John lounged along, appearing to be very
busily engaged in making a whistle from a slip
of willow which he had a short time before cut
from the tree. He purposely kept in the
middle of the road, apparently quite unaware
of the approach of the vehicle, until he was
aroused by the sound of a voice behind him.
"Be a little more careful, if you don't want
to get run over."
John assumed a look of surprise, and with
comic terror ran to the side of the road.
Mr. Mudge checked his horse, and came to a
"I say, youngster, haven't you seen a boy of
about your own size walking along, with a
bundle in his hand?"
"Tied up in a red cotton handkerchief?"
"Yes, I believe so," said Mr. Mudge, eagerly,
"where did you----"
"With a blue cloth cap?"
"Gray jacket and pants?"
"Yes, yes. Where?"
"With a patch on one knee?"
"Yes, the very one. When did you see
him?" said Mr. Mudge, getting ready to
start his horse.
"Perhaps it isn't the one you mean,"
continued John, who took a mischievous delight in
playing with the evident impatience of Mr.
Mudge; "the boy that I saw looked thin, as
if he hadn't had enough to eat."
Mr. Mudge winced slightly, and looked at
John with some suspicion. But John put on
so innocent and artless a look that Mr. Mudge
at once dismissed the idea that there was any
covert meaning in what he said. Meanwhile
Paul, from his hiding-place in the bushes, had
listened with anxiety to the foregoing colloquy.
When John described his appearance so minutely,
he was seized with a sudden apprehension
that the boy meant to betray him. But
he dismissed it instantly. In his own singleness
of heart he could not believe such duplicity
possible. Still, it was not without anxiety
that he waited to hear what would be said next.
"Well," said Mr. Mudge, slowly, "I don't
know but he is a little PEAKED. He's been sick
lately, and that's took off his flesh."
"Was he your son?" asked John, in a
sympathizing tone; "you must feel quite troubled
He looked askance at Mr. Mudge, enjoying
that gentleman's growing irritation.
"My son? No. Where----"
"Nephews perhaps?" suggested the
imperturbable John, leisurely continuing the
manufacture of a whistle.
"No, I tell you, nothing of the kind. But
I can't sit waiting here."
"Oh, I hope you'll excuse me," said John,
apologetically. "I hope you won't stop on my
account. I didn't know you were in a hurry."
"Well, you know it now," said Mr. Mudge,
crossly. "When and where did you see the
boy you have described? I am in pursuit of him."
"Has he run away?" inquired John in
"Are you going to answer my question or
not?" demanded Mr. Mudge, angrily.
"Oh, I beg your pardon. I shouldn't have
asked so many questions, only I thought he
was a nice-looking boy, and I felt interested
"He's a young scamp," said Mr. Mudge,
impetuously, "and it's my belief that you're
another. Now answer my question. When and
where did you see this boy?"
This time Mr. Mudge's menacing look
warned John that he had gone far enough.
Accordingly he answered promptly, "He
passed by our farm this morning."
"How far back is that?"
"About three miles."
"Did he stop there?"
"Yes, he stopped a while to rest."
"Have you seen him since?"
"Yes, I saw him about half a mile back."
"On this road?"
"Yes, but he turned up the road that
branches off there."
"Just what I wanted to find out," said Mr.
Mudge, in a tone of satisfaction, "I'm sure to
So saying, he turned about and put his horse
to its utmost speed, determined to make up
for lost time. When he was fairly out of sight,
Paul came forth from his hiding-place.
"How could you do so!" he asked in a
"Could I do what?" asked John, turning a
laughing face towards Paul. "Didn't I tell
old Mudge the exact truth? You know you
did turn up that road. To be sure you didn't
go two rods before turning back. But he
didn't stop to ask about that. If he hadn't
been in such a hurry, perhaps I should have
told him. Success to him!"
"You can't think how I trembled when you
described me so particularly."
"You didn't think I would betray you?"
said John, quickly.
"No, but I was afraid you would venture
too far, and get us both into trouble."
"Trust me for that, Paul; I've got my eyes
wide open, and ain't easily caught. But
wasn't it fun to see old Mudge fuming while I
kept him waiting. What would he have said
if he had known the bird was so near at hand?
He looked foolish enough when I asked him if
you were his son."
John sat down and gave vent to his pent-up
laughter which he had felt obliged to restrain
in the presence of Mr. Mudge. He laughed so
heartily that Paul, notwithstanding his recent
fright and anxiety, could not resist the infection.
Together they laughed, till the very air
seemed vocal with merriment.
John was the first to recover his gravity.
"I am sorry, Paul," he said, "but I must
bid you good-by. They will miss me from the
house. I am glad I have got acquainted with
you, and I hope I shall see you again some time
before very long. Good-by, Paul."
The two boys shook hands and parted. One
went in one direction, the other in the opposite.
Each looked back repeatedly till the other was
out of sight. Then came over Paul once more
a feeling of sadness and desolation, which the
high spirits of his companion had for the time
kept off. Occasionally he cast a glance
backwards, to make sure that Mr. Mudge was not
following him. But Paul had no cause to fear
on that score. The object of his dread was
already some miles distant in a different
For an hour longer, Paul trudged on. He
met few persons, the road not being very much
frequented. He was now at least twelve miles
from his starting-place, and began to feel very
sensibly the effects of heat and fatigue
combined. He threw himself down upon the grass
under the overhanging branches of an apple-
tree to rest. After his long walk repose
seemed delicious, and with a feeling of
exquisite enjoyment he stretched himself out at
full length upon the soft turf, and closed his eyes.
Insensibly he fell asleep. How long he slept
he could not tell. He was finally roused from
his slumber by something cold touching his
cheek. Starting up he rubbed his eyes in
bewilderment, and gradually became aware that
this something was the nose of a Newfoundland
dog, whose keen scent had enabled him
to discover the whereabouts of the small stock
of provisions with which Paul had been
supplied by his late companion. Fortunately he
awoke in time to save its becoming the prey of
its canine visitor.
"I reckon you came nigh losing your dinner,"
fell upon his ears in a rough but hearty tone.
At the same time he heard the noise of
wheels, and looking up, beheld a specimen of
a class well known throughout New England
--a tin pedler. He was seated on a cart liberally
stocked with articles of tin ware. From
the rear depended two immense bags, one of
which served as a receptacle for white rags, the
other for bits of calico and whatever else may
fall under the designation of "colored." His
shop, for such it was, was drawn at a brisk
pace by a stout horse, who in this respect
presented a contrast to his master, who was long
and lank. The pedler himself was a man of
perhaps forty, with a face in which shrewdness
and good humor seemed alike indicated. Take
him for all in all, you might travel some distance
without falling in with a more complete
specimen of the Yankee.
"So you came nigh losing your dinner," he
repeated, in a pleasant tone.
"Yes," said Paul, "I got tired and fell
asleep, and I don't know when I should have
waked up but for your dog."
"Yes, Boney's got a keen scent for
provisions," laughed the pedler. "He's a little
graspin', like his namesake. You see his real
name is Bonaparte; we only call him Boney,
Meanwhile he had stopped his horse. He
was about to start afresh, when a thought
"Maybe you're goin' my way," said he, turning
to Paul; "if you are, you're welcome to a ride."
Paul was very glad to accept the invitation.
He clambered into the cart, and took a seat
behind the pedler, while Boney, who took his
recent disappointment very good-naturedly,
jogged on contentedly behind.
"How far are you goin'?" asked Paul's
new acquaintance, as he whipped up his horse.
Paul felt a little embarrassed. If he had
been acquainted with the names of any of the
villages on the route he might easily have answered.
As it was, only one name occurred to him.
"I think," said he, with some hesitation,
"that I shall go to New York."
"New York!" repeated the pedler, with a
whistle expressive of his astonishment.
"Well, you've a journey before you.
Got any relations there?"
"No uncles, aunts, cousins, nor nothing?"
Paul shook his head.
"Then what makes you go? Haven't run
away from your father and mother, hey?"
asked the pedler, with a knowing look.
"I have no father nor mother," said Paul,
"Well, you had somebody to take care of
you, I calculate. Where did you live?"
"If I tell you, you won't carry me back?"
said Paul, anxiously.
"Not a bit of it. I've got too much business
on hand for that."
Relieved by this assurance, Paul told his
story, encouraged thereto by frequent questions
from his companion, who seemed to take a lively
interest in the adventures of his young companion.
"That's a capital trick you played on old
Mudge," he said with a hearty laugh which
almost made the tins rattle. "I don't blame
you a bit for running away. I've got a story to
tell you about Mrs. Mudge. She's a regular skinflint."
This was the pedler's promised story about
"The last time I was round that way, I
stopped, thinking maybe they might have some
rags to dispose of for tin-ware. The old lady
seemed glad to see me, and pretty soon she
brought down a lot of white rags. I thought
they seemed quite heavy for their bulk,--
howsomever, I wasn't looking for any tricks, and
I let it go. By-and-by, when I happened to
be ransacking one of the bags, I came across
half a dozen pounds or more of old iron tied
up in a white cloth. That let the cat out of the
bag. I knew why they were so heavy, then, I
reckon I shan't call on Mrs. Mudge next time
I go by."
"So you've run off," he continued, after a
pause, "I like your spunk,--just what I should
have done myself. But tell me how you managed
to get off without the old chap's finding
Paul related such of his adventures as he
had not before told, his companion listening
with marked approval.
"I wish I'd been there," he said. "I'd have
given fifty cents, right out, to see how old
Mudge looked, I calc'late he's pretty well tired
with his wild-goose chase by this time."
It was now twelve o'clock, and both the
travelers began to feel the pangs of hunger.
"It's about time to bait, I calc'late,"
remarked the pedler.
The unsophisticated reader is informed that
the word "bait," in New England phraseology,
is applied to taking lunch or dining.
At this point a green lane opened out of the
public road, skirted on either side by a row of
trees. Carpeted with green, it made a very
pleasant dining-room. A red-and-white heifer
browsing at a little distance looked up from
her meal and surveyed the intruders with mild
attention, but apparently satisfied that they
contemplated no invasion of her rights, resumed
her agreeable employment. Over an
irregular stone wall our travelers looked into
a thrifty apple-orchard laden with fruit. They
halted beneath a spreading chestnut-tree
which towered above its neighbors, and offered
them a grateful shelter from the noonday sun.
From the box underneath the seat, the pedler
took out a loaf of bread, a slice of butter,
and a tin pail full of doughnuts. Paul, on his
side, brought out his bread and gingerbread.
"I most generally carry round my own
provisions," remarked the pedler, between two
mouthfuls. "It's a good deal cheaper and
more convenient, too. Help yourself to the
doughnuts. I always calc'late to have some
with me. I'd give more for 'em any day than
for rich cake that ain't fit for anybody. My
mother used to beat everybody in the neighborhood
on making doughnuts. She made 'em so
good that we never knew when to stop eating.
You wouldn't hardly believe it, but, when I
was a little shaver, I remember eating twenty-
three doughnuts at one time. Pretty nigh
"I should think it might," said Paul, laughing.
"Mother got so scared that she vowed she
wouldn't fry another for three months, but I
guess she kinder lost the run of the almanac,
for in less than a week she turned out about a
All this time the pedler was engaged in
practically refuting the saying, that a man
cannot do two things at once. With a little
assistance from Paul, the stock of doughnuts
on which he had been lavishing encomiums,
diminished rapidly. It was evident that his
attachment to this homely article of diet was
quite as strong as ever.
"Don't be afraid of them," said he, seeing
that Paul desisted from his efforts, "I've got
plenty more in the box."
Paul signified that his appetite was already appeased.
"Then we might as well be jogging on. Hey,
Goliah," said he, addressing the horse, who
with an air of great content, had been browsing
while his master was engaged in a similar
manner. "Queer name for a horse, isn't it?
I wanted something out of the common way,
so I asked mother for a name, and she gave me
that. She's great on scripture names, mother
is. She gave one to every one of her children.
It didn't make much difference to her what
they were as long as they were in the Bible. I
believe she used to open the Bible at random,
and take the first name she happened to come
across. There are eight of us, and nary a
decent name in the lot. My oldest brother's
name is Abimelech. Then there's Pharaoh,
and Ishmael, and Jonadab, for the boys, and
Leah and Naomi, for the girls; but my name
beats all. You couldn't guess it?"
Paul shook his head.
"I don't believe you could," said the pedler,
shaking his head in comic indignation. "It's
Jehoshaphat. Ain't that a respectable name
for the son of Christian parents?"
"It wouldn't be so bad," continued the
pedler, "if my other name was longer; but Jehoshaphat
seems rather a long handle to put before
Stubbs. I can't say I feel particularly
proud of the name, though for use it'll do as
well as any other. At any rate, it ain't quite
so bad as the name mother pitched on for my
youngest sister, who was lucky enough to die
before she needed a name."
"What was it?" inquired Paul, really
curious to know what name could be considered
less desirable than Jehoshaphat.
"It was Jezebel," responded the pedler.
"Everybody told mother 'twould never do;
but she was kind of superstitious about it,
because that was the first name she came to in
the Bible, and so she thought it was the Lord's
will that that name should be given to the child."
As Mr. Stubbs finished his disquisition upon
names, there came in sight a small house, dark
and discolored with age and neglect. He
pointed this out to Paul with his whip-handle.
"That," said he, "is where old Keziah
Onthank lives. Ever heard of him?"
Paul had not.
"He's the oldest man in these parts,"
pursued his loquacious companion. "There's
some folks that seem a dyin' all the time, and
for all that manage to outlive half the young
folks in the neighborhood. Old Keziah Onthank
is a complete case in p'int. As long ago
as when I was cutting my teeth he was so old
that nobody know'd how old he was. He was
so bowed over that he couldn't see himself in
the looking-glass unless you put it on the floor,
and I guess even then what he saw wouldn't
pay him for his trouble. He was always ailin'
some way or other. Now it was rheumatism,
now the palsy, and then again the asthma. He
had THAT awful.
"He lived in the same tumble-down old
shanty we have just passed,--so poor that
nobody'd take the gift of it. People said that
he'd orter go to the poorhouse, so that when he
was sick--which was pretty much all the time
--he'd have somebody to take care of him.
But he'd got kinder attached to the old place,
seein' he was born there, and never lived anywhere
else, and go he wouldn't.
"Everybody expected he was near his end,
and nobody'd have been surprised to hear of
his death at any minute. But it's strange how
some folks are determined to live on, as I said
before. So Keziah, though he looked so old
when I was a boy that it didn't seem as if he
could look any older, kept on livin,' and livin',
and arter I got married to Betsy Sprague, he
was livin' still.
"One day, I remember I was passin' by the
old man's shanty, when I heard a dreadful
groanin', and thinks I to myself, `I shouldn't
wonder if the old man was on his last legs.'
So in I bolted. There he was, to be sure, a
lyin', on the bed, all curled up into a heap,
breathin' dreadful hard, and lookin' as white
and pale as any ghost. I didn't know exactly
what to do, so I went and got some water, but
he motioned it away, and wouldn't drink it,
but kept on groanin'.
"`He mustn't be left here to die without
any assistance,' thinks I, so I ran off as fast I
could to find the doctor.
"I found him eatin' dinner----
"Come quick," says I, "to old Keziah Onthank's.
He's dyin', as sure as my name is Jehoshaphat."
"Well," said the doctor, "die or no die, I
can't come till I've eaten my dinner."
"But he's dyin', doctor."
"Oh, nonsense. Talk of old Keziah Onthank's
dyin'. He'll live longer than I shall."
"I recollect I thought the doctor very
unfeelin' to talk so of a fellow creetur, just
stepping into eternity, as a body may say. However,
it's no use drivin' a horse that's made up
his mind he won't go, so although I did think
the doctor dreadful deliberate about eatin' his
dinner (he always would take half an hour for
it), I didn't dare to say a word for fear he
wouldn't come at all. You see the doctor was
dreadful independent, and was bent on havin'
his own way, pretty much, though for that
matter I think it's the case with most folks.
However, to come back to my story, I didn't
feel particularly comfortable while I was
waitin' his motions.
"After a long while the doctor got ready. I
was in such a hurry that I actilly pulled him
along, he walked so slow; but he only laughed,
and I couldn't help thinkin' that doctorin' had
a hardinin' effect on the heart. I was determined
if ever I fell sick I wouldn't send for him.
"At last we got there. I went in all of a
tremble, and crept to the bed, thinkin' I
should see his dead body. But he wasn't there
at all. I felt a little bothered you'd better
"Well," said the doctor, turning to me with
a smile, "what do you think now?"
"I don't know what to think," said I.
"Then I'll help you," said he.
"So sayin', he took me to the winder, and
what do you think I see? As sure as I'm alive,
there was the old man in the back yard, a
squattin' down and pickin' up chips."
"And is he still living?"
"Yes, or he was when I come along last.
The doctor's been dead these ten years. He
told me old Keziah would outlive him, but I
didn't believe him. I shouldn't be surprised if
he lived forever."
Paul listened with amused interest to this
and other stories with which his companion
beguiled the way. They served to divert his
mind from the realities of his condition, and
the uncertainty which hung over his worldly
ON THE BRINK OF DISCOVERY.
"If you're in no great hurry to go to New
York," said the pedler, "I should like to have
you stay with me for a day or two. I live
about twenty-five miles from here, straight
ahead, so it will be on your way. I always
manage to get home by Saturday night if it is
any way possible. It doesn't seem comfortable
to be away Sunday. As to-day is Friday,
I shall get there to-morrow. So you can lie
over a day and rest yourself."
Paul felt grateful for this unexpected
invitation. It lifted quite a load from his mind,
since, as the day declined, certain anxious
thoughts as to where he should find shelter,
had obtruded themselves. Even now, the
same trouble would be experienced on Monday
night, but it is the characteristic of youth to
pay little regard to anticipated difficulties as
long as the present is provided for.
It must not be supposed that the pedler
neglected his business on account of his companion.
On the road he had been traveling the
houses were few and far between. He had,
therefore, but few calls to make. Paul
remarked, however, that when he did call he
seldom failed to sell something.
"Yes," said Mr. Stubbs, on being interrogated,
"I make it a p'int to sell something, if
it's no more than a tin dipper. I find some
hard cases sometimes, and sometimes I have
to give it up altogether. I can't quite come up
to a friend of mine, Daniel Watson, who used
to be in the same line of business. I never
knew him to stop at a place without selling
something. He had a good deal of judgment,
Daniel had, and knew just when to use `soft
sodder,' and when not to. On the road that
he traveled there lived a widow woman, who
had the reputation of being as ugly, cross-
grained a critter as ever lived. People used to
say that it was enough to turn milk sour for
her even to look at it. Well, it so happened
that Daniel had never called there. One night
he was boasting that he never called at a
house without driving a bargain, when one of
the company asked him, with a laugh, if he
had ever sold the widow anything.
"Why, no," said Daniel, "I never called
there; but I've no doubt I could."
"What'll you bet of it?"
"I'm not a betting man," said Daniel, "but
I feel so sure of it that I don't mind risking
"The next morning Daniel drove leisurely
up to the widow's door and knocked. She had
a great aversion to pedlers, and declared they
were cheats, every one of them. She was busy
sweeping when Daniel knocked. She came to
the door in a dreadful hurry, hoping it might
be an old widower in the neighborhood that
she was trying to catch. When she saw how
much she was mistaken she looked as black as
"Want any tin ware to-day, ma'am?"
inquired Daniel, noways discomposed.
"No, sir," snapped she.
"Got all kinds,--warranted the best in the
market. Couldn't I sell you something?"
"Not a single thing," said she, preparing
to shut the door; but Daniel, knowing all
would then be lost, stepped in before she could
shut it quite to, and began to name over some
of the articles he had in his wagon.
"You may talk till doomsday," said the
widow, as mad as could be, "and it won't do
a particle of good. Now, you've got your
answer, and you'd better leave the house before
you are driven out."
"Brooms, brushes, lamps----"
"Here the widow, who had been trying to
keep in her anger, couldn't hold out any
longer. She seized the broom she had been
sweeping with, and brought it down with a
tremendous whack upon Daniel's back. You
can imagine how hard it was, when I tell you
that the force of the blow snapped the broom
in the middle. You might have thought
Daniel would resent it, but he didn't appear to
notice it, though it must have hurt him awful.
He picked up the pieces, and handing them,
with a polite bow, to the widow, said, "Now,
ma'am, I'm sure you need a new broom. I've
got some capital ones out in the cart."
"The widow seemed kind of overpowered
by his coolness. She hardly knew what to say
or what to think. However, she had broken
her old broom, that was certain, and must
have a new one; so when Daniel ran out and
brought in a bundle of them, she picked out
one and paid for it without saying a word;
only, when Daniel asked if he might have the
pleasure of calling again, she looked a little
queer, and told him that if he considered it a
pleasure, she had no objection."
"And did he call again?"
"Yes, whenever he went that way. The
widow was always very polite to him after
that, and, though she had a mortal dislike to
pedlers in general, she was always ready to
trade with him. Daniel used to say that he
gained his bet and the widow's custom at ONE BLOW."
They were now descending a little hill at the
foot of which stood a country tavern. Here
Mr. Stubbs declared his intention of spending
the night. He drove into the barn, the
large door of which stood invitingly open, and
unharnessed his horse, taking especial care to
rub him down and set before him an ample
supply of provender.
"I always take care of Goliah myself," said
he. "He's a good friend to me, and it's no
more than right that I should take good care
of him. Now, we'll go into the house, and see
what we can get for supper."
He was surprised to see that Paul hung
back, and seemed disinclined to follow.
"What's the matter?" asked Mr. Stubbs, in
surprise. "Why don't you come?"
"Because," said Paul, looking embarrassed,
"I've got no money."
"Well, I have," said Mr. Stubbs, "and that
will answer just as well, so come along, and
don't be bashful. I'm about as hungry as a
bear, and I guess you are too."
Before many minutes, Paul sat down to a
more bountiful repast than he had partaken
of for many a day. There were warm biscuits
and fresh butter, such as might please the palate
of an epicure, while at the other end of the
table was a plate of cake, flanked on one side
by an apple-pie, on the other by one of pumpkin,
with its rich golden hue, such as is to be
found in its perfection, only in New England.
It will scarcely be doubted that our hungry travellers
did full justice to the fare set before them.
When they had finished, they went into the
public room, where were engaged some of the
village worthies, intent on discussing the news
and the political questions of the day. It was
a time of considerable political excitement,
and this naturally supplied the topic of
conversation. In this the pedler joined, for his
frequent travel on this route had made him
familiarly acquainted with many of those present.
Paul sat in a corner, trying to feel
interested in the conversation; but the day had
been a long one, and he had undergone an unusual
amount of fatigue. Gradually, his
drowsiness increased. The many voices fell
upon his ears like a lullaby, and in a few
minutes he was fast asleep.
Early next morning they were up and on
their way. It was the second morning since
Paul's departure. Already a sense of
freedom gave his spirits unwonted elasticity, and
encouraged him to hope for the best. Had his
knowledge of the future been greater, his
confidence might have been less. But would he
have been any happier?
So many miles separated him from his late
home, that he supposed himself quite safe from
detection. A slight circumstance warned him
that he must still be watchful and cautious.
As they were jogging easily along, they
heard the noise of wheels at a little distance.
Paul looked up. To his great alarms he recognized
in the driver of the approaching vehicle,
one of the selectmen of Wrenville.
"What's the matter?" asked his companion,
noticing his sudden look of apprehension.
Paul quickly communicated the ground of
"And you are afraid he will want to carry
you back, are you?"
"Not a bit of it. We'll circumvent the old
fellow, unless he's sharper than I think he is.
You've only got to do as I tell you."
To this Paul quickly agreed.
The selectman was already within a
hundred rods. He had not yet apparently noticed
the pedler's cart, so that this was in our hero's
favor. Mr. Stubbs had already arranged his
plan of operations.
"This is what you are to do, Paul," said he,
quickly. "Cock your hat on the side of your
head, considerably forward, so that he can't
see much of your face. Then here's a cigar to
stick in your mouth. You can make believe
that you are smoking. If you are the sort of
boy I reckon you are, he'll never think it's you."
Paul instantly adopted this suggestion.
Slipping his hat to one side in the jaunty
manner characteristic of young America, he
began to puff very gravely at a cigar the
pedler handed him, frequently taking it from his
mouth, as he had seen older persons do, to
knock away the ashes. Nothwithstanding his
alarm, his love of fun made him enjoy this
little stratagem, in which he bore his part
The selectman eyed him intently. Paul
began to tremble from fear of discovery, but his
apprehensions were speedily dissipated by a
remark of the new-comer, "My boy, you are
forming a very bad habit."
Paul did not dare to answer lest his voice should
betray him. To his relief, the pedler spoke----
"Just what I tell him, sir, but I suppose he
thinks he must do as his father does."
By this time the vehicles had passed each
other, and the immediate peril was over.
"Now, Paul," said his companion, laughing,
"I'll trouble you for that cigar, if you have
done with it. The old gentleman's advice was
good. If I'd never learned to smoke, I
wouldn't begin now."
Our hero was glad to take the cigar from
his mouth. The brief time he had held it was
sufficient to make him slightly dizzy.
PAUL REACHES THE CITY.
Towards evening they drew up before a
small house with a neat yard in front.
"I guess we'll get out here," said Mr.
Stubbs. "There's a gentleman lives here that
I feel pretty well acquainted with. Shouldn't
wonder if he'd let us stop over Sunday.
Whoa, Goliah, glad to get home, hey?" as the
horse pricked up his ears and showed manifest
signs of satisfaction.
"Now, youngster, follow me, and I guess I
can promise you some supper, if Mrs. Stubbs
hasn't forgotten her old tricks."
They passed through the entry into the
kitchen, where Mrs. Stubbs was discovered
before the fire toasting slices of bread.
"Lor, Jehoshaphat," said she, "I didn't
expect you so soon," and she looked inquiringly
at his companion.
"A young friend who is going to stay with
us till Monday," explained the pedler. "His
name is Paul Prescott."
"I'm glad to see you, Paul," said Mrs.
Stubbs with a friendly smile. "You must be
tired if you've been traveling far. Take a seat.
Here's a rocking-chair for you."
This friendly greeting made Paul feel quite
at home. Having no children, the pedler and
his wife exerted themselves to make the time
pass pleasantly to their young acquaintance.
Paul could not help contrasting them with
Mr. and Mrs. Mudge, not very much to the
advantage of the latter. On Sunday he went to
church with them, and the peculiar circumstances
in which he was placed, made him listen
to the sermon with unusual attention. It
was an exposition of the text, "My help
cometh from the Lord," and Paul could not
help feeling that it was particularly applicable
to his own case. It encouraged him to
hope, that, however uncertain his prospects
appeared, God would help him if he put his
trust in Him.
On Monday morning Paul resumed his journey,
with an ample stock of provisions supplied
by Mrs. Stubbs, in the list of which
doughnuts occupied a prominent place; this
being at the particular suggestion of Mr. Stubbs.
Forty or fifty miles remained to be
traversed before his destination would be reached.
The road was not a difficult one to find, and
he made it out without much questioning.
The first night, he sought permission to sleep
in a barn.
He met with a decided refusal.
He was about to turn away in disappointment,
when he was called back.
"You are a little too fast, youngster. I said
I wouldn't let you sleep in my barn, and I
won't; but I've got a spare bed in the house,
and if you choose you shall occupy it."
Under the guise of roughness, this man had
a kind heart. He inquired into the particulars
of Paul's story, and at the conclusion terrified
him by saying that he had been very
foolish and ought to be sent back. Nevertheless,
when Paul took leave of him the next
morning, he did not go away empty-handed.
"If you must be so foolish as to set up for
yourself, take this," said the farmer, placing
half a dollar in his hand. "You may reach
the city after the banks are closed for the day,
you know," he added, jocularly.
But it was in the morning that Paul came
in sight of the city. He climbed up into a high
tree, which, having the benefit of an elevated
situation, afforded him an extensive prospect.
Before him lay the great city of which
he had so often heard, teeming with life and
Half in eager anticipation, half in awe and
wonder at its vastness, our young pilgrim
stood upon the threshold of this great Babel.
Everything looked new and strange. It had
never entered Paul's mind, that there could
be so many houses in the whole State as now
rose up before him. He got into Broadway,
and walked on and on thinking that the street
must end somewhere. But the farther he
walked the thicker the houses seemed crowded
together. Every few rods, too, he came to a
cross street, which seemed quite as densely
peopled as the one on which he was walking.
One part of the city was the same as another
to Paul, since he was equally a stranger to all.
He wandered listlessly along, whither fancy
led. His mind was constantly excited by the
new and strange objects which met him at
As he was looking in at a shop window, a
boy of about his own age, stopped and inquired
confidentially, "when did you come
from the country?"
"This morning," said Paul, wondering how a stranger
should know that he was a country boy.
"Could you tell me what is the price of
potatoes up your way?" asked the other boy,
with perfect gravity.
"I don't know," said Paul, innocently.
"I'm sorry for that," said the other, "as I
have got to buy some for my wife and family."
Paul stared in surprise for a moment, and
then realizing that he was being made game
of, began to grow angry.
"You'd better go home to your wife and family,"
he said with spirit, "or you may get hurt."
"Bully for you, country!" answered the other
with a laugh. "You're not as green as you look."
"Thank you," said Paul, "I wish I could
say as much for you."
Tired with walking, Paul at length sat
down in a doorway, and watched with interest
the hurrying crowds that passed before him.
Everybody seemed to be in a hurry, pressing
forward as if life and death depended on his
haste. There were lawyers with their sharp,
keen glances; merchants with calculating
faces; speculators pondering on the chances
of a rise or fall in stocks; errand boys with
bundles under their arms; business men hurrying
to the slip to take the boat for Brooklyn
or Jersey City,--all seemed intent on business
of some kind, even to the ragged newsboys
who had just obtained their supply of evening
papers, and were now crying them at the top
of their voices,--and very discordant ones at
that, so Paul thought. Of the hundreds
passing and repassing before him, every one had
something to do. Every one had a home to go
to. Perhaps it was not altogether strange that
a feeling of desolation should come over Paul
as he recollected that he stood alone, homeless,
friendless, and, it might be, shelterless for the
"Yet," thought he with something of
hopefulness, "there must be something for me to
do as well as the rest."
Just then a boy some two years older than
Paul paced slowly by, and in passing, chanced
to fix his eyes upon our hero. He probably
saw something in Paul which attracted him,
for he stepped up and extending his hand,
said, "why, Tom, how came you here?"
"My name isn't Tom," said Paul, feeling a
little puzzled by this address.
"Why, so it isn't. But you look just like
my friend, Tom Crocker."
To this succeeded a few inquiries, which
Paul unsuspiciously answered.
"Do you like oysters?" inquired the new
comer, after a while.
"Because I know of a tip top place to get
some, just round the corner. Wouldn't you
Paul thanked his new acquaintance, and
said he would.
Without more ado, his companion ushered
him into a basement room near by. He led the
way into a curtained recess, and both boys
took seats one on each side of a small table.
"Just pull the bell, will you, and tell the
waiter we'll have two stews."
Paul did so.
"I suppose," continued the other, "the governor
wouldn't like it much if he knew where I was."
"The governor!" repeated Paul. "Why, it
isn't against the laws, is it?"
"No," laughed the other. "I mean my
father. How jolly queer you are!" He