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Title: Mike Marble - His Crotchets and Oddities.
Author: Woodworth, Francis C. (Francis Channing), 1812-1859
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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    | Transcriber's Note:                                       |
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   [Illustration: MIKE'S CROTCHETS IN WAR-TIME.]







With Tinted Illustrations.





Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1852,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for
the District of Massachusetts.

Printers, 3 Water Street, Boston.



ABOUT CROTCHETS                                            7

CROTCHETY FOLKS                                           15

LIGHTS AND SHADOWS                                        27

CHIPS FROM BIRCH WOODS                                    35

A PAIR OF THIEVES                                         54

PAYING HIM OFF                                            68

MIKE'S CROTCHETS IN WAR-TIME                              92

THE BUMBLE-BEES' NEST                                    109

HOW A BARN WAS BUILT                                     127

ANOTHER BLOCK OF MARBLE                                  134

MIKE MARBLE'S LAST DAYS                                  150


MIKE'S CROTCHETS IN WAR-TIME                  (Frontispiece)

VIGNETTE TITLE-PAGE                                        1

THE BOY IN THE WOODS                                      48

OLD IRONSIDES AND THE CHILDREN                            63

A CRYING SPELL                                            77

PAYING FOR MISCHIEF                                      124

MIKE MARBLE AND THE BEGGAR                               135

MIKE MARBLE IN HIS OLD AGE                               147




Don't be frightened, reader, at what you see on the title-page of this
book, or at the head which I have given to my first chapter. Don't let
the idea creep into your head, that I am going to give you a dull and
sleepy essay on music. It is not the _crotchets_ which you find in
the singing-book, that I intend to talk about; I leave them to those
who know more about them than I do. There is a man of my acquaintance,
whom I could hunt up without much trouble, and who, if you should ever
choose to give him a chance, would talk you deaf, and write you blind,
about this sort of crotchets, together with all the members of that
noisy family--breves, semibreves, minims, and what not! I'll refer you
to him, for all the mysteries of the _gamut_. Whenever you want to
learn them, I assure you he would like no better fun than to teach
them to you. I'll not interfere with his trade.

My business is with another family of crotchets. Webster--Noah
Webster, the man who made the spelling-book, out of which Uncle Frank
learned to say, or rather to drawl his letters--gives, in his large
dictionary, as one of the definitions of the word _crotchet_, this: "a
peculiar turn of mind, a whim, a fancy." Here you have just that kind
of crotchet that I am going to deal with. Mr. Webster could not have
hit my crotchet more exactly, if he had taken aim at it on purpose.
It is a _peculiar turn of mind_, or, if you prefer it, a _whim_, or a
_fancy_, that I shall talk about, for an hour or so, perhaps longer.
Indeed, I am not perfectly sure but I shall find a whole flock of
whims and fancies, because, you know, "birds of a feather flock
together," and, in that case, I shall give you a peep at a score or
two of whims and fancies.

Now, who knows but these crotchets will be worth hearing about? People
write large, thick volumes, on drier topics than whims and
fancies--that is, to my way of thinking--and I suppose their books
are read. Certainly they expect to have them read, or they would not
make them. Then why may not my book on crotchets find readers?

If I were to write a book on _warts_ and _corns_, don't you think the
book would get read? I do. I have not the least doubt of it. Suppose,
now, it were published in the newspapers, that _Messrs. Phillips,
Sampson & Company_, one of the largest and most respectable publishing
houses in the Union, are about to issue a volume, entitled _Freaks of
the Wart Family_, from the pen of Uncle Frank, a man who, first and
last, has printed a good deal of sense, together with some nonsense,
and who, in this volume, has succeeded in stringing together some of
the strangest things that ever saw the light. Suppose that some
newspaper should give that item of news, don't you think folks would
get the book, when it was published? and don't you think they would
read it, or, at all events, skim it over, to see what kind of stuff
Uncle Frank had been emptying out of his brain? I think so.

Well, warts and corns are to the body what whims and crotchets are to
the mind. The body has freaks--the mind has freaks. Warts don't
exactly _belong_ to the body. That is, there could be a very good sort
of a body, without a single wart on it; and indeed, if you please, a
man would be a more perfect man, if there were no warts about him,
from head to foot. So of crotchets. I don't pretend that a person has
any thing to boast of, because his head is full of crotchets. Perhaps
he would be better without them. _Perhaps_ he would. But warts and
crotchets are both found among mankind. Both are freaks of nature, so
to speak; of course, both are worth examining. One thing at a time,
though. Let us turn our attention, at present, to _crotchets_.



A crotchety person, according to this same Noah Webster, whom I have
quoted before, is one who has whims or crotchets in the brain. Now a
word about these crotchety folks.

I'll tell you what it is, my friend. The older I grow, the more I feel
inclined to let every man and woman, every boy and girl, act out
himself, or herself. "That is a singular fellow," we often hear it
said. "He's as odd as Dick's hat-band. I don't know what to think of
him. He seems to be a good sort of a man. But he _is_ odd. His head is
as full of crotchets as it can hold."

When I hear a person talk in this style, I feel like saying, "Stop a
moment, my dear sir. He's 'a good sort of a man--_but_,' you say. That
shows you are not precisely satisfied with his goodness; and pray,
what is the matter with it? Why don't you like it, sir? What
particular fault have you to find with it? Come, out with it now."

Press a man, who is talking in this way about a crotchety neighbor,
right up to the point, and you will generally find that the reason he
does not like him is because he has a different way of saying and
doing things from his own.

Now I believe that some folks are odd because they cannot help it.
True, there are a great many who are odd, just for the sake of being
odd. They are ambitious to be known as singular people. We will let
them pass. They certainly work hard to earn the name they love to be
known by; and perhaps we ought not to try to rob them of it, or to say
any thing very severe about their taste. We will let them pass.

But there are a multitude of other people who are odd, and whose
oddities cannot be accounted for in the same way. They are odd,
because they were born so. They are odd, because they cannot help
being odd. If they should try, with all their might, to do as most of
their neighbors do, they would make perfect dunces of themselves; for
every body, old or young, makes a dunce of himself, and nothing else,
whenever he undertakes to be what he is not--whenever he undertakes to
be somebody else. He is not very well acquainted with the race he
belongs to, who, as he goes through the world, does not get this truth
hammered into him.

Why, at this very moment, I can think of at least a dozen odd people,
whom I am in the habit of meeting every day, and who, I verily
believe, could no more help their oddities and crotchets than some of
their neighbors could help having warts come out on their hands. The
crotchets are natural and unavoidable in one case--the warts are
natural and unavoidable in the other.

These are my notions about crotchety people, in general, and I have
thrown them out, as one throws out feather beds from the garret
windows, when the house is on fire--so that the articles that are to
be thrown afterward may find a good soft spot to alight on, and not
get damaged by their fall.

The truth is, I am going to introduce to you an old gentleman, who
had a large head, tolerably well filled with crotchets; and as it is
such a common thing for people to raise a hue and cry against every
body who has any oddities about him, I thought I would put you on your
guard a little, by a word of apology for that entire race of people,
who are odd because they cannot be any thing else.

This old gentleman, who, by the way, was a great friend of the little
folks, is _Mike Marble_. I introduce him to you as an _old_ gentleman.
But, although he was old, when I first saw him, I must not forget
that he was young once--as young as any of my readers--and that he
played his part as a boy, as well as his part as a man. There are a
good many anecdotes afloat about him and his odd way of doing things,
before he grew up to manhood. My grandfather knew him when he was a
lad at school. I believe he and Mike were nearly of the same age.

That grandfather of mine, now I think of it, was a great story-teller.
I have sometimes nearly half made up my mind, while casting about me,
to find some new mine of stories for my young readers, that I would
put my thinking cap on, and see if I could not recollect a budget of
my grandfather's stories, large enough to fill a book. I am not sure
but I will do so one of these days; and, if I do, I shall print the
budget, depend upon it.

My grandfather and Mike Marble were as dear to each other as if they
had been brothers. They lived not far apart, and went to school
together. For some of Mike's crotchets I am indebted to this old
friend of his. Others I picked up, here and there, among old people
that knew him, and others still I got from a personal acquaintance
with him in his old age.

You will excuse me, if I call him _Mike_ sometimes. He was always so
called, when he was a boy, I believe. And while you are excusing me
for calling him _Mike_--you see I take you to be very kind and
obliging--you will please excuse me, also, if I happen to prefix the
title of _Uncle_ to that nickname; for he was known, far and near, as
_Uncle Mike_ in his later days.

It is true that _Michael_ was his name correctly and honestly spelled
out. But it is equally true that Michael was a name to which he seldom
had to answer. At school, and among his playmates, it was always
_Mike_. I really believe, from what I have heard my grandfather say,
that not half the boys and girls in his neighborhood could have been
convinced, by any common arguments, that his name was Michael. Indeed,
I remember having heard that once, when a schoolmate called the fellow
by the long name, just to see how it would seem, he and the other boy
both burst right out into a perfect roar of laughter over the sound
of it. "For pity's sake," said he, when he got over his laughing fit,
"don't call me by that hard name again, as long as I live;" and, as he
seemed to be quite in earnest, none of the boys ever addressed him by
any other name than _Mike_, after that.



"But who is _Mike Marble_? where does he live? what sort of a man is
he? what kind of oddities has he got?"

My little friend, your questions come out so fast, and there is such a
long string of them, that they make me think of the way a whole pack
of fire crackers go off, when you touch a coal to one of them, and
throw the whole into the street. I am going to tell you ever so many
things about this same Mike Marble. Before I get through with him, you
will get very well acquainted with him, I think. But Uncle Frank, you
know, has got some oddities himself. When he has got any thing to do,
he, too, has his own way of doing it.

Some people, I suppose, if they were treating you to a few chapters in
the history of this singular man, would weave the threads together in
a different manner from mine. They would begin, very likely, by
telling where the chap was born, who were his father and mother, how
many brothers and sisters he had, what their names were, whether he
had any uncles and aunts, and if he had, what kind of uncles and aunts
they were, and all that sort of thing. And they would describe Mike's
appearance exactly--tell you whether he had black eyes or blue, gray
eyes or brown, red eyes or green. But I don't see much use in that.

Indeed, I am not sure but I shall keep you ignorant as to how he
looked, and let you learn what there is worth learning in his
character--for character is the great thing, after all, you know--by
the stories I shall tell of him. I might, it is true, take every
branch, and leaf, and bud, and flower, of his character, and pick it
all to pieces, and show you, in this way, what he was made of. But you
would get tired of all that. So I'll take another course. I'll tell
you what he said and did--what he said and did at different times, at
different periods in his life, and in different circumstances. Don't
you think this is the best way to make you acquainted with him? I do;
for, if you find out what a person says, and does, and thinks, you
find out what he is.

One or two things, however, I must say about this Mike Marble, by way
of general introduction.

He was born at a very interesting period--about nine years before the
breaking out of the American Revolution. He was quite an old man
before he went to his final rest. Indeed, it is but a few years since
I saw his weather-beaten face, all lighted up with smiles. Unlike many
other men, when they get to be old, he never made a practice of
carping at every thing he saw about him, because it was not exactly in
the style of 1776. He believed that there was wisdom among our
grandfathers and grandmothers, but that there is wisdom, also, among
their grand-children.

I have told you that he had some oddities. I have hinted, too, in a
sort of whisper, that I do not consider a man an absolute Pagan,
because he happens to be a little odd. Something more than this I
could say of Uncle Mike, odd as he was; but I guess you will find out
what I think of him, before I get through. Suffice it to say, that,
while I didn't like him _because_ he was odd, I did like him, _in
spite_ of his oddities. He was a fine old man. As the world goes, he
was a most excellent man. He had his faults, a plenty of them; though
I have sometimes thought

    "That e'en his failings lean'd to virtue's side."

Some of them did, I know. He had his faults, nevertheless. I confess
that. He always had them, no doubt. Faults are common things among
mankind and womankind. But, with your consent, we will trip lightly
over all that part of our hero's history which is shaded with




One of the worst things I ever heard of in the history of Mike,
according to the best of my recollection, was the way he served Billy
Birch's dog. You must know something about this Billy Birch. _Burt_
was his real name. But it was changed into Birch by his neighbors, for
a reason which I will give you by and bye.

Mr. Burt was a pretty good sort of a man, in his own estimation, but
not greatly or generally beloved by his neighbors. He was a
church-going man, and had a knack, somehow or other, of getting along
decently with the forms--the outside garments, so to speak--of
religion. It was really astonishing how glibly he would _talk_ about
religion. But as to the practical part of it, he did not succeed as
well. That was up-hill work for the old man.

He found it exceedingly difficult to keep himself "unspotted from the
world." Some of his nearest neighbors thought they could count a great
many worldly spots upon him. I don't know how that was, as I never was
acquainted with the man, and ought not to judge him too harshly.
Indeed, Uncle Frank must endeavor to keep in mind, that with what
measure we mete it shall be measured to us again. But from all the
shreds and patches of his history that have come down to the present
day, Mr. Birch does seem to have been a selfish man, and a great deal
too fond of money.

My young friend, it is one of the most difficult things in this
world, to act up to the spirit of the golden rule of our Lord, and do
to others as we would have them do to us, when we are as full as we
can hold of selfishness. You may lay that thought up in your memory.

Billy Birch found that truth out. What did he care how many
newly-planted hills of corn and rows of peas his hens might scratch
up, provided the corn was not his corn, and the peas were not his
peas, and provided he did not have to suffer for the scratching? Not a
mill. He would sit, smoking his pipe--for he was a great smoker--in
the old, straight-backed oak chair on the stoop, as cool as a
cucumber, while the biggest rooster on his premises, the lord of the
whole barn-yard, was leading a regiment of hens and petty roosters in
a crusade upon Squire Chapman's corn-field across the way; and if the
Squire or one of his boys came over to inform him what havoc the hens
were making, and to ask him what to do with the troublesome creatures,
the old man would perhaps take his pipe out of his mouth, and, after
slowly puffing out a cloud of smoke, would say, "Why, drive them out,
to be sure!"

What did he care, if his old mare--who, by the way, was a very nervous
sort of a mare, and could not stay long in one spot--what did he care,
if the old creature did jump over the six-rail fence around the good
parson's field of clover, and eat what she wanted, and trample down,
in her nervous way of doing things, a good share of the rest of the
clover? Why, it didn't hurt _him_ any. The old miser! It wasn't _his_
field of clover that Katy trampled down. And besides, didn't he pay
his minister's tax? and didn't the minister and his family live in
better style than he and his family could afford to live in?

Katy loved clover. _He_ wasn't to blame for that, and he didn't know
that Katy was to blame. It was a very natural taste, that of his old
mare. And why didn't the parson, he should like to know, build his
fence higher, if he didn't want his clover eaten up by other people's

What was it to Billy Birch, if his dog did kill a neighbor's sheep,
now and then? What did he care, what should he care? If they were his
own sheep, that would alter the case. But Cæsar never killed his
master's sheep. Wasn't that kind in Cæsar? And as to this sheep-biting
habit of his, why it is the _nature_ of dogs to kill sheep. Cæsar
_must_ kill somebody's sheep; and if he hadn't picked out a good fat
one from this flock, it would have been somebody else's flock. What is
the use in making such a fuss about a sheep or two? The loss of one
sheep won't break any body. What can't be cured, must be endured.
People must take care of their sheep, if they don't want them to be

That is the way this selfish, narrow-minded farmer reasoned and
talked. You can see, plainly enough, that he was not the sort of man
to be very much respected in the neighborhood. He was not respected.
In fact, there was not, in all the parish, a more generally unpopular
man than Billy Birch.

The boys, I have heard, bore him a grudge of long standing. It related
to the huckleberries and hazel nuts in the old man's birch woods.
There were bushels of huckleberries, and almost as many hazel nuts, in
those woods. But would you have thought of such a thing? Mr. Birch
forbade the boys picking any of his huckleberries or hazel nuts. Ever
so many huckleberries decayed on the bushes every year, or were left
to be harvested by the birds, because Mr. Birch's family could not
pick them all themselves, and he was so tight that he would not let
any body else pick them. He was like the dog in the manger, you see.
He could not eat the hay himself, and he would not let any body else
eat it.

But the meanest thing that I ever heard of his doing, was this: In
these same woods--the woods where the huckleberries and hazel nuts
grew--there were great multitudes of birch trees, of different species
and among the rest, some of that species which goes by the name, among
children, of _black birch_. I need not tell any of my country readers
about this kind of birch. They know it well enough. They have eaten
birch bark, many a time; and, for ought I know, some of them have
felt a tingling sensation in the region of the back and legs, brought
about by the use of birch twigs in the hands of some schoolmaster.

Well, Moses Ramble was crossing Billy Birch's woods one day in the
spring of the year. For awhile, he whistled along, as merry-hearted as
the blue birds that had just returned from their southern tour, and
who were chirping on the branches over his head, breaking off, now and
then, a few sprigs of birch, from the trees along his path. By and
bye, he sat down on the fence, to rest himself, still going on with
his whistling, at intervals, when his mouth was not too much occupied
with the birch to interfere with the music.

   [Illustration: THE BOY IN THE WOODS.]

While the merry young fellow was sitting here, feeling at peace with
all the world, and not dreaming but all the world was at peace with
him, he heard a slight rustling behind him, and, looking over his
shoulder, whom should he see but Billy Birch himself, leaning against
a chestnut tree, and looking as if he were angry enough to bite in two
a hoe handle.

What on earth the man was doing there, history does not inform us,
though it used to be more than hinted among the younger citizens in
that neighborhood, that he was prowling about in those woods as a spy
on the movements of the boys. They said he was just the man for such

Moses did not like the appearance of the face that was lowering on
him; and, although he was innocent of the slightest intention of doing
any harm on the man's premises, he thought it would be safer for him
to walk off than it would be to stay there. So he leaped from the
fence, and began, leisurely, to walk home.

"Stop, you young heathen!" said Billy Birch.

The little fellow did stop, and stood as still as the old chestnut
tree, against which the lord of those woods was leaning.

"What are you _munching_ there, sir?"

Moses, having no suspicion at all that he had been doing any harm to
the estate of the old man, replied, frankly and plainly, that he was
eating birch.

"Aha!" said the farmer, "you are, eh? I'll teach you to eat my birch.
I'll give you as much birch as you will want for a fortnight!"

And he took the twig which Moses was gnawing out of his hands, and
whipped him with it, until he made the poor fellow cry out with pain
and mortification.

"There, you thief!" he said, after flogging him to his heart's
content, "that will teach you to steal my birch, I guess."

From that day the selfish farmer began to be called _Birch_, in that
section of the country; and it was not many months before his name was
almost as effectually changed as if he had applied to the legislature
of the state to have that body change it for him.



About that dog of Billy Birch. Have I not promised to tell you
something about him, and the accident that happened to him, which
accident Mike Marble might have prevented, if he had made the attempt?
I have a good mind to tell you about these matters, at any rate,
whether I have made such a promise or not.

Mind now, reader, that, in telling this story, I don't mean to have it
understood that I think Mike did right. I'll grant that he did wrong.
But I mention the fact to show what sort of mischief Mike was up to,
and what sort of blemishes those were, which I confess he had in his
character; for, as I think I said before, this trick was about as bad
a thing as I ever heard of his being guilty of.

Cæsar got to be a great hero in the sheep-killing business--a perfect
Nimrod of a dog. It sometimes happens, I fancy, that soldiers who
spend more of their time in war, actually shooting people and cutting
their throats, after a while, get to liking the trade, and take
pleasure in slaughtering human beings, just as a carpenter or a
printer might take pleasure in _his_ trade. Well, it got to be
somewhat so with Cæsar, it would seem; for it often came to pass that
two or three sheep would be killed in one night, when, of course, a
single fat one would supply his appetite bountifully for several days,
at least. He must have liked the business, or he would have contented
himself with killing only a sufficient number of sheep to keep him in

The neighbors who suffered from Cæsar's favorite amusement,
complained, now and then, to his master. But it did no good. "They
must keep their sheep out of the way," the selfish man would say.
"Cæsar is a capital family dog. I don't know what I should do without
him--he is so faithful." That was as much satisfaction as they could
ever get. Billy Birch would not shut up his dog at night, and as for
killing him, that was out of the question. He would rather lose his
best horse than Cæsar. True, the neighbors might have sued the owner
of the dog, and have got the value of their lost sheep in that way.
But they were generally peaceable folks, and had a great dread of
going to law, especially with one of their own neighbors. The result
was, that Cæsar's business prospered more and more every day.

It was in the full tide of his success as a sheep-killer, that he
came, one day, into Mr. Marble's door yard, and took his station near
the wood pile. Mike saw him, and knew well enough what he came for.
His father had just been slaughtering an ox, and some of the dainty
pieces of the animal were lying on the wood pile, the scent of which
had brought Cæsar to the spot. No doubt, having feasted on mutton so
long, he had got a little sick of it, and thought he would make a
dinner on beef. He was a dainty fellow, you perceive.

I don't know what put it into Mike's head to play the trick he did on
Cæsar. But he had no sooner seen him smelling around among the refuse
pieces of the ox's carcass, than he determined to punish him, if
possible, for his notorious crimes. So, without saying a word to any
body, he gathered up all the choice bits which had tempted the dog to
the yard, and placed them within a few feet of the heels of Mr.
Marble's old chaise horse, who was standing there, hitched to a gate
post, waiting patiently for somebody to come and harness him.

Now this horse, who was called _Old Ironsides_, was as famous for his
kicking habits as Cæsar was for his sheep-killing. He seemed to take
up kicking as a sort of amusement, to while away his leisure hours.
It was a wonder that Mr. Marble kept him; for he had kicked the old
chaise to pieces several times; and as to his stable, he made nothing
of kicking off all the boards within reach of his heels, every few
nights, just for the fun of the thing, and to show what mighty deeds
he could do with his heels.

It is no more than an act of simple justice to Old Ironsides, however,
to say, that he was as gentle as a lamb to the children of his master.
They could do any thing with him. Often, when he was standing at the
door, or in his stable, they would go close to him, and pat him on his
neck, and play with him, as if he were one of their own number; and
the old fellow would take all their fun good-humoredly. Among all his
sins in the kicking line--and he had a great many, first and last, to
answer for--he never kicked either of the children. They all loved
him, in fact; and many is the dainty morsel he received from their

Well, to go on with the story of Mike's piece of mischief. The dog,
as he had expected, trotted along after the pieces of meat, and
commenced eating, without any suspicions of harm, right under the
_battery_ of the old horse. There he remained for some moments, as
Mike says, taking as much comfort eating his dinner, as if he were
dining on one of his father's sheep.


Old Ironsides took no notice of the dog. Indeed, he rather appeared
half asleep. He often shut his eyes, by the way, as he was standing at
a post, and dosed, and nodded, much after the fashion of some men,
when they set out to listen to a sermon on Sunday. All the time,
however, Mike had a crotchet in his head.

"Halloo, old fellow!" he shouted, "what are you about there?"

In an instant Old Ironsides was wide awake, and, seeing at a glance
what was going on behind, he pricked up his ears, uttered one brief
snort, and away went his heels like lightning. Poor Cæsar! When he
touched this planet again--for Old Ironsides had sent him up towards
the moon, much farther than I should want to go, in that style--he was
a lost dog. Old Ironsides, who proved to be as great a hero, in his
way, as Cæsar was, had killed him. The great enemy of sheepdom had
ceased to breathe.





Jacob Grumley, who was sometimes nicknamed _Grumble_, on account of a
habit he had of finding fault with every thing and every body, went to
the same school with Mike Marble. Now Mike was as remarkable for his
cheerful and amiable disposition, as Jacob was for his ill nature. In
half of the cases where the latter would get angry, and storm, and
rage, and fret, and foam, like a hyena, or a Bengal tiger, the other
would remain as cool as a cucumber, or, perhaps, burst out into a
hearty laugh.

One day, when several of the schoolboys, including Michael and Jacob,
were playing ball on the fine lawn in front of the school house, a
dispute occurred between the young grumbler and another boy, and Mike
ventured to suggest to Jacob, as kindly as he could, that he was in
the wrong.

"You little meddlesome dunce!" said Jacob, all in a blaze of anger,
"I'll teach you to mind your own business, and let other people's
quarrels alone." And, suiting his action to his words, he struck Mike
in the face so hard that the blood ran from his nose in a stream.

Well, what do you think Mike did, then? I know what some boys would
have done, if they had been in his place. They would have struck
Jacob, at any cost. That is the way they would have taken their
revenge. That is the way, indeed, that Mike's school-fellows advised
him to take his revenge. Half a dozen of them, at least, surrounded
him, and urged him to flog Jacob.

"I'd pay him off for it," said one.

"The rascal!" said another. "I'd make him smart for it."

"And we'll all stand by you," said one, "if you'll flog him."

"Mike wasn't a bit to blame, either," added another. "If I were in his
place, if I wouldn't make Jake see stars, then--"

The remainder of the speech was lost to every body but the speaker, as
all the boys, by this time, were talking at once. It is a wonder to
me that they did not take the matter altogether into their own hands,
and give Jake the flogging which they thought he so richly deserved;
for Michael was a great favorite among them, and they could not bear
to see him abused. But I believe they contented themselves with
letting off ever so many vials of wrath, in the shape of words; and
Jake Grumble, finding how matters stood, walked sulkily away.

"Now, Mike, what are you going to do?" asked one of the boys.

"Do about what?" asked the injured boy.

"About the bloody nose that Jake gave you," was the reply.

"I'm going to see if I can't stop its bleeding," said Mike.

"No, I don't mean that," said the other. "I mean what are you going to
do to Jake?"

"Oh," said Mike, "I guess I'll pay him off, one of these days."

"And why not now?" the boy asked.

"I've got as much on my hands as I can attend to, just now," said

How do you suppose Jake felt, that day, after his cruel treatment of
one of his playmates? What do you suppose were his feelings, when he
found out what all the boys thought of his conduct; and when he had
time to reflect upon the folly and wickedness of what he had done?
Perhaps you can guess pretty well how he felt. Possibly you have
yourself wronged some one of your playmates, and recollect how you
felt about it, when you had a chance to get away somewhere, alone, to
think over your conduct. If so, you can give a pretty rational guess
as to the kind of feelings that were at work in Jake's bosom, on his
way home from school that day.

He did not go home in company with the rest of the boys and girls who
went in the same direction. He was in the habit of doing so. But he
felt so much ashamed on account of what he had done, that he could not
bear to see the faces of any of the children.

Instead of taking the public road that led directly to his father's
house, he went through the gate that led into Deacon Stark's pasture,
and followed the cart-path through the woods. It was a great deal
farther that way. But he went through the woods so as to get clear of
his playmates. One of the deacon's hired men saw the boy, leaning
against the fence, just at the edge of the woods. Poor fellow! he was
crying, as if his heart would break. So the man said. Jake got the
worst of it, in that affair. Don't you think he did?

But I have not got through with the story yet, and I must go on with

   [Illustration: A CRYING SPELL.]

Time passed on--days, weeks, and even months, came and went--but
Mike did not "pay off" the boy who had so unjustly abused him. His
companions urged him to do it, until they got out of patience, and
concluded to give the matter up.

As for Jake, it was as much as he could do to look Mike in the face.
He avoided him, as much as possible, and seemed to be unhappy whenever
he came near him. But Mike, on his part, treated the boy who had
injured him just as if nothing had happened.

I have often noticed, that where there has been any difficulty
between two persons, the one who was at fault is more apt to cherish
unkind feelings than the one who was innocent. It was so in this case.
Jacob treated Michael as if it were Michael rather than himself, who
had been in the wrong. He never spoke to him, when he could help it;
and when he did say any thing to him, he spoke peevishly, and pressed
the words between his teeth, as if he had the lockjaw.

One day, during that interesting season of the year when the farmers
are busy making hay, Jake had occasion to pass through Mr. Marble's
meadow, with his fishing rod, on his way to the "deep hole," where, as
every body in the neighborhood knew, multitudes of sun fish and perch
were always to be found, ready for a nice bit of an angle-worm.

Jake, being a little thirsty--for it was a very warm day--went up to
the tree under which Mr. Marble kept the refreshments for his hired
men, and took up the wooden bottle to drink. There was nothing wrong,
perhaps, in the liberty he took, though I think it would have been
quite as well, if he had asked Mr. Marble's consent in the first
place. But we will let that pass. Jake had a different way of doing

As I said, he took up the bottle to drink. But the moment he did so,
Ranter, Mr. Marble's old dog, who lay under the tree, where he had
been stationed to keep watch, thinking his master's property was in
danger, flew at the boy, and caught him by the arm. Poor Jake! he
yelled lustily, you may be sure. But it did no good. Ranter held him
in his jaws, as tight as if he were a woodchuck or a rabbit, instead
of a school-boy.

Mike was spreading hay, at the time, some twenty yards off, or more
and hearing the boy crying for help, and looking in the direction from
which the voice came, he saw Jake fast in the clutches of the dog. In
an instant he shouted, as loud as he could scream, "Here, Ranter!
here, Ranter!" and in another instant, Ranter let go of the poor boy,
and bounded away towards his young master.

Jake, as you may suppose, and as Mike found, when he went to him, was
very badly bitten. The blood ran from his arm quite as freely as it
did from Mike's nose, some time before that.

"Did Ranter hurt you much?" asked Mike, kindly.

"Very badly, I'm afraid," said Jake, almost frantic with pain and

Mike said he was sorry, and expressed his wonder that Ranter could be
so cruel. Then he ran and called his father, who was busy in another
part of the meadow, when the accident happened, and who did not hear
Jake's call for help. Mr. Marble had the boy taken to his house,
where his wound was nicely dressed, and where the utmost care was
taken of him by the whole family, among whom Mike was the foremost. It
was two or three days before it was thought prudent to remove the
sufferer to his father's house; and during that time there was no one,
not even Jacob's own mother, who was more kind and attentive to him
than Mike Marble.

The time came when the wounded boy was able to go home. An hour or two
before the wagon was to come for him, he was sitting in an easy
chair, with the wounded arm lying on a pillow, and Mike, as usual, was
at his side. There happened to be no one else in the chamber besides
the two boys.

"Mike," said the other, "I want to say something to you."

"What is it?" asked Mike.

"I don't know how to say it," was the answer.

And there was a pause. Jacob had undertaken a task which was entirely
new to him, and he did not know how to begin it. At length he tried

"Mike," said he, "I struck you once--it was a good while ago--do you
remember it?"

"Yes," Mike said.

"Well, I am sorry I struck you," said Jacob, and burst into tears.

"I knew you were sorry," said Mike, "and I have forgiven you, long

"_Do_ you forgive me?" asked Jacob, earnestly.

"I do, from my heart," said Mike.

Then followed another flood of tears. This time it was a good while
before Jacob could speak, so as to be understood, and when he did
speak, it was only to say,

"Oh, Mike, you are _so_ kind! You seem like a brother to me."

Jacob's father came into the room just at this moment, and nothing
more was said by either of the boys on the subject which so deeply
affected Jacob. But Mike saw, plainly enough, that the heart of the
boy who had injured him was melted, and he was satisfied.

How warmly Jacob pressed Mike's hand, when he bade him "good bye," and
started for home.

Not long after that, Mike met one of the boys who had urged him so
strongly to return the blow that Jacob gave him.

"Well," said Mike, "I've done it."

"Done what?" asked the other boy.

"Paid him off," said Mike.

"What, Jake Grumble?"


"Good. Tell me all about it."

And Mike did tell him all about it.

"Well, I do say for it, Mike," said the other boy, after listening to
the whole story, "you are just the queerest fellow that I ever saw or
heard of."

"But don't you think that was about the best way to pay him off,
after all?" asked Mike.

"Well," said the other boy, after a moment's pause, "I declare I don't
know but it was, when I come to think of it."

And don't _you_ think it was the best way to pay him off, reader? I
do, and I should be glad if every body would learn to pay such debts
in very much the same way. It may be a very queer mode of taking
revenge. But it seems to me quite a sensible one; and I am sure it is
a thousand times better than the mode that people so often choose. If
I am not greatly mistaken, indeed, it is just the mode that is
recommended in the word of God, which says, "If thine enemy hunger,
feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink; for, in so doing, thou
shalt heap coals of fire on his head."



You have heard a great deal about the Revolutionary War. You have
heard what hardships our forefathers went through, while they were
fighting the battles of liberty. But I doubt if you can form, in your
own mind, any thing like a true picture of what those brave men
suffered. Why, many of them had to go barefoot, for whole weeks at a
time, right in the heart of winter. They could hardly get food to eat;
and many and many a time, if it had not been for the thought that they
were engaged in a good cause, and that God was on their side, they
must have been discouraged, and given up all as lost. But they did not
give up. They stood firm at their post, until they either fell before
their enemies, or perished by fatigue and exposure.

When the tidings came to the neighborhood where Mike Marble lived,
that Washington's noble band were suffering every thing but death at
Valley Forge, every man and woman, that could boast of any thing in
the shape of a heart, were moved with pity. And they were not the
people to let their kind feelings go off in fog and smoke. They were
not blustering people. They believed in _acting_, as well as in
_talking_. When they had heard the sad news, the next question was,
"Can we _do_ any thing?" That question was soon answered. The next
was, "_What_ can we do?" Well, it was pretty soon found out that all
could do something--that some could do one thing, and some another;
but that every family in the parish could do something.

So they went to work. The mothers and daughters went to knitting
stockings, and making under garments for the soldiers. Every chest of
drawers, and wardrobe, and closet in the house was ransacked, to find
bed-quilts and blankets for the army. And the fathers and sons, they
went to work, with a right good will, to get shoes, and hats, and
coats, and other articles of wearing apparel, so as to have them ready
at the time the agent from the commander-in-chief should pass through
the place.

The younger branches of the families in that neighborhood, too, caught
the spirit of their fathers and mothers. I must tell you a story about
the agency of the little folks in furnishing supplies for the army.

Mike Marble asked his father, one day, if he might call a meeting of
the boys and girls at his house, to talk over war matters. The old man
laughed, and said he might, if he chose. "But what do you children
expect to do for the army, Mike?" he added. "What can you do, I
should like to know?"

"I don't know, father," was the reply, "but I guess we can all do
something; I'm pretty sure I can, for one."

Well, the meeting was called. The schoolmaster gave out notice, one
afternoon, that all the boys and girls were invited to Mr. Marcus
Marble's house, the next Wednesday, at "early candlelight," and, to
quote the precise language of Mike's invitation--for he had it all
written out, and the schoolmaster read it word for word--that business
of importance would be brought before the meeting, which would be
made known at that time.

When the hour of "early candlelight" arrived, and, indeed, before the
hour of late daylight had closed, there was a crowd of boys and girls
assembled in Mr. Marble's kitchen, to talk over matters and things
about the war. They appointed a chairman, (if chairman he could be
called, who had numbered less than a dozen summers,) the object of the
meeting was stated, and they went as orderly to work in their
deliberations, as if they had been playing statesmen for half a
century. Only one grown person--Mr. Marble--was admitted into the
kitchen, and he was there only as a listener. He did not take any part
in the proceedings.

My grandfather was the chairman of the evening, and the principal
orator was Mike Marble. His speech at the time was not reported, nor
have I any notes of it at hand. But my grandfather used to say it was
one of the most eloquent addresses he ever heard in his life. I can
easily believe it. One half of what is necessary in an orator is _to
feel_ what he says. If he feels, it is not so much, matter in what
shape the words come from his mouth. I am a firm believer in a good
style. People who speak in public ought to use chaste and elegant
language. But a good style, and ever so good a delivery, are worth but
little, unless the speaker has a soul, and unless he can make his
hearers feel because he feels.

Mike was in earnest. It looked a little like boy's play, to be sure,
to see that group of children there, talking about great principles.
But it was something more than play. Mike was in earnest, and his
words, as he was describing the sufferings of the army at Valley
Forge, came warm and flowing from his heart. If the character of a
speech can be judged of from the effect it has, certainly the one from
Mike Marble deserves a high rank; for he carried all the boys and
girls along with him. Other speeches were made; but Mike was the
Webster of the evening.

Well, what do you think that little band of patriots resolved to do? I
doubt whether you can guess. The first thing they did was to find out
how much cash each one had laid aside, to be used for spending money
on such occasions as Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and Training day.

"For my part," said Mike, "I would rather never spend another cent for
sugar plums in my life, than to have the soldiers go barefoot on the
snow. I tell you what it is, fellow-countrymen--(Mr. Marble was
observed by the chairman to bite his lips, to keep in a good round
laugh, when those words, _fellow-countrymen_, came out)--I tell you
what it is, the things that are wanted now are boots, and shoes, and
stockings, and jackets--and not gingerbread, and sugar plums, and
spruce beer, and gimcracks of that kind."

When the little patriots came to count up their money, they found it
amounted to more than ten dollars. And it was none of your paltry
continental stuff. It was all made up of good hard silver and copper.

The next thing they did was to appoint a treasurer, to take charge of
the money, and to see that it was paid over to Washington's agent, who
was to be instructed to pay it all out in shoes. And that was not all
these young statesmen did. They resolved that they would give to the
army every cent of all the spending money they might get, as long as
the war lasted. Didn't they do their work pretty well, my little lad?
I think they did. They did what they could. La Fayette and Washington
did no more. You will smile when I tell you one thing which was
proposed that evening. One of the boys thought it would be a good plan
to turn over to the poor soldiers all the stockings and shoes
belonging to the assembly. He thought they could get along better
walking on the snow with their bare feet, than the troops could. But
some one, with a little more forethought than this generous-hearted
speaker, suggested that the soldiers at Valley Forge would find it
difficult to get on such stockings and shoes as the Blue Hill boys had
to bestow. So that scheme failed. But it shows what stuff those lads
were made of. It shows what kind, generous, noble, self-denying hearts
beat in their bosoms.

I declare to you I am more than ever proud of my native land, when I
think what our ancestors did, in old times, to obtain our freedom for
us. God grant that we may know how to value our blessings, that we may
ever be thankful for them, and that we may not abuse the liberty that
has been given to us. I do not want my young readers to grow up, with
their hearts full of the spirit of war. I love peace more than war.
War I know to be a terrible thing. Seldom, very seldom would I go to
war--never, unless for some great principle, such as that for which
our forefathers contended. No, I do not wish to have you get your
heads and hearts full of the war spirit. But I do want you to be
patriots. I want you to love your country; to be willing to make
sacrifices for it; to look upon it as the brightest and dearest spot
on earth. Our liberty cost a great deal--a great deal of money, of
hardship, of suffering, and, what is more valuable than all, a great
deal of blood. It cost too much to be lightly valued--too much to be
trifled with. Take care that you never get into the habit which some,
who are much older than you, have fallen into, of looking upon the
union of these states as a matter, after all has been said and done,
of not much consequence. I tell you the bonds which bind us together
is a sacred one; and, next to the tie which binds us together in
families, ought to be, to you and to me, the dearest tie on earth.



All the boys and girls who live in the country, and probably a large
share of those who live in the city, know the bumble-bee. We had a
little different name for him in our neighborhood. _Bumble-bee_ was,
however, the only name the family was known by, in Willow Lane, and I
think it quite possible that such a corruption, (if it is a
corruption, and the wise ones tell us it is, though I should like to
see them beat the notion into the head of any one of the hundred
children who went to our school,) is very common in New England.

The nests of these insects, you may not be aware, are made in the
ground. These nests are frequently found in meadows, about the time
the grass is mowed; and it not unfrequently happens that the mower
disturbs one of these nests with his scythe, in which case, the first
information the poor man obtains of the existence of the nest is from
a score or two of the bumble-bees themselves--(we'll call them
_bumble-bees_, for the sake of peace, though I must confess I feel a
great partiality for the name by which I knew the rogues when I used
to be familiar with their nests)--the bumble-bees themselves, who fly
into his face, before he has time to retreat, and sting him until they
get tired of the sport.

In these nests, there is usually more or less honey. Sometimes there
is half a pint, or more. This honey is very palatable; and it is not
an uncommon thing for children to brave the danger of being stung by
the bees, for the sake of capturing a nest and getting possession of
its treasures. For myself, I never was ambitious of getting renown by
such means as besieging a bumble-bee's nest.

I'll tell you what I did perform, though, once on a time, which was
closely connected with the race of insects I am speaking of. It is a
common tradition among country boys, that white-faced bumble-bees
never sting, and that you can take them in your hands with perfect
safety. This tradition may have truth at the bottom of it, or it may
not. I cannot tell, and I shall not stop to debate the question now.
It is certain that there is an insect, very much resembling the
bumble-bee, and of about the same size, who, nevertheless, is a very
different fellow. This is the chap that bores holes into dry wood, as
nicely as you can bore with a gimlet, on which account he is sometimes
called the borer. This insect does not sting. No thanks to him,
though, for not stinging. He has no instrument to sting with. For
aught I know, he may have ever so good a _will_ to sting; but he has
no _power_ to do so, any more than a grasshopper or a butterfly.

Well, I wanted to show some of the boys, one day, how smart I was. I
had an idea that I could teach them something, and at the same time
get the credit for a little bit of bravery.

"Do you see that saucy chap there," I asked, "on that clover blossom?"

"Yes," said one of the boys, "it is a bumble-bee." This time I must be
permitted to say the spelling of the word, because the boys in
pronouncing it, give the sound of the _b_, and I, as a historian,
must report their conversation faithfully.

"Well." I said, "what will you give me, if I'll take this fellow in my

It was intimated that nothing could be expected from the boys, but
that the bumble-bee would be likely to give me something which I would
remember, until "the cows came home." I don't know what period in the
future that intended to point to, but I know that was a common
expression among us all--one which we used, I suppose, without
stopping to think what it meant, or how it got into use.

"I dare do it," I said. I was as bold as a lion.

"You had better not," said the boys.

I did it, though. I caught the bumble-bee, and held him fast in my
hand. But if ever a poor fellow got handsomely and foolishly stung, I
was that unfortunate youth; and the worst of it was, that while I was
dancing about, and wringing my hand, and crying, on account of the
pain, my companions were doing quite another thing: they were holding
a laughing concert, at my expense.

It is hardly necessary to add, that my white-faced bumble-bee turned
out to be an enemy in disguise. After that event, I made a closer
examination of the faces of this class of insects, and became
satisfied that there was one tribe of bumble-bees who wore a face of a
pale yellow color, resembling somewhat the genuine borer, but who, for
all that, could sting as well as any of their race with black faces.

This feat was as near as I ever got toward the glory of capturing a
nest of bumble-bees. I have tasted the honey which came from their
nests, though, many a time, and I have seen other boys capture the

Billy Bolton was a great fellow at that kind of sport. Billy lived
with Uncle Mike. He did _chores_--to use a word common enough in New
England, though, possibly, not an elegant one--on Mr. Marble's farm;
that is, he went for the cows and drove them to pasture, fed the pigs
and poultry, brought water and chips for the "women folks," and ran of

It was a favorite sport with Billy, in the summer time, to hunt for
bumble-bees' nests, and to "take them up," as the process of capturing
them was called. Uncle Mike did not like to indulge the boy in this
kind of sport. Perhaps he thought it a cruel and unfeeling kind of
fun; and I know he had too kind a heart, to see a boy growing up in
his family with a taste for cruelty to animals of any kind. At any
rate, the danger connected with the sport was enough to condemn it in
the mind of Mr. Marble.

He had forbidden Billy and his own children having any thing to do
with the sport. Still, it seemed Billy found means to amuse himself,
now and then, in a sly way, by taking up a bumble-bees' nest.

One day, Mr. Marble and his men were engaged in the meadow, raking hay
and carting it into the barn. Billy was in the meadow, too, at work
among the hay, raking after the cart, I presume, as that used to be
the task always allotted to me when I was of his age. In a corner of
the lot, at some distance from the place where Mr. Marble and his men
were at work, there was a large bottle containing water--nothing but
water, reader; there was no rum drank on Mr. Marble's farm. Billy was
sent after the bottle. He was gone a good while--longer, Mr. Marble
thought, than was necessary. The matter was examined, when it turned
out that Billy had got into trouble with a nest of bumble-bees. He had
discovered a nest of these wretches, it appears; and, the temptation
to wage war against them being very strong, he had stopped a moment,
just to take up the nest.

Poor fellow! It proved to be a _taking in_, instead of a _taking up_,
and the taking in was on the other side. When he saw that the
bumble-bees had outwitted him, he snatched up the bottle, which he had
thrown down, and which was lying near, and ran, as fast as his legs
would let him, towards the place where the men were at work. But the
bees flew faster than he could run. It was a comic scene enough to see
the fellow running at the top of his speed, and some fifty bumble-bees
after him, once in a while giving expression to their feelings, by
saluting him, in their peculiar way, in the face and on the neck.
Didn't the poor fellow scream?

   [Illustration: PAYING FOR MISCHIEF.]

But this was not the whole of the joke. Indeed, it was hardly the
richest part of it. Mr. Marble, who saw what was going on, stood ready
with his cart whip; and when Billy made his appearance, with a
regiment of bumble-bees about his ears, he commenced beating him with
the whip. Away ran the boy, and Mr. Marble chased him some half a
dozen rods, and gave him about as many blows with the cart whip.

"There, you young rogue!" said Mr. Marble, as he turned to go back to
his work again, "between me and the bumble-bees, I guess you have
learned one good lesson thoroughly this afternoon. You will be a wiser
boy, I think, after this. You will be a _smarter_ one, I'm sure; at
least, for a while."



Mike Marble, as I think I have said before, was a kind-hearted man.
But he had his own way of doing every thing, and that way was very
generally quite unlike most other people's way. No man ever liked
better to do any body a good turn. But he had his crotchets about an
act of charity, as well as about every thing else.

A neighbor went to him once, to ask him for some money to aid him in
building a barn. The old one had burned down, and it was a great loss
to him, he said. He hardly knew how he should get along, unless his
neighbor loaned him a little money.

But Uncle Mike refused the neighbor's petition. "Money was scarce,
very scarce." That was all the answer the unfortunate man could get
from Mike Marble.

"This is strange enough," he mused in his own mind, as he walked away
from Mr. Marble's door. "Strange enough! so kind-hearted and generous
as he always has been, when any body was in distress."

The next day, however, bright and early, Uncle Mike yoked up his oxen,
(some three pairs, I believe, including the _steers_, which needed
something more than _moral suasion_ to keep them straight,) fastened
them to the cart, and posted off, with two or three men, to the saw
mill. There he and his men loaded the cart with boards and planks.
Then he drove straight to the house of the unfortunate neighbor,
opened the great gate, without saying a word to any member of the
family, went into the door yard with his load, and threw it off within
a few yards of the spot where the old barn stood.

"What on earth does all that mean?" thought the female portion of the
family. The farmer and his boys were not at home at the time. Nothing
was said, however.

Again Uncle Mike drove over to the mill; again he put on a load of
timber; again he threw it off near the site of the old barn. Three
loads were discharged there, and then he directed his men to go home
with the team. He himself went to one of his neighbors, and asked him
if he had any timber of any kind already sawed at Squire Murdock's

"Yes," was the answer, "a little; why?"

"Well, I want some of it, if it's the right kind. What is it?"

"I don't recollect exactly--some white oak joists, I guess, and some
inch boards."

"Good. Just what I want."

Suffice it to say, that Mike Marble did not leave his neighbor before
he got a promise from him that he would contribute a load or two of
his timber to rebuild that barn. Then he went to another neighbor, and
another, and did something like the same errand, with very much the
same sort of success. He called on a _boss_ carpenter, too, and
secured his services in framing the barn; and, on his way home, he
stopped at Slocum's blacksmith's shop, and got the promise of some

Well, it was not long before the neighbors were all called together to
raise Deacon Metcalf's barn, and it was not long after that before
the building was ready for use. And how much do you think it cost him?
Not a cent--not a single cent, the neighbors managed the thing so
well. Even the good things on the supper table, when they had their
"raising bee," were sent in by the neighbors.

And the whole scheme, you see, came from the crotchety brain of our
friend, Mike Marble. That was his way of building a neighbor's barn,
when any help was needed for that purpose.



This story about the building of the deacon's barn brings to my mind
another, pretty closely related to it. Will you hear that, too?

One morning, as Uncle Mike was walking out, he saw a boy sitting down
on the door steps of one of his neighbors. Upon a closer inspection of
the lad it appeared that he was a poor boy, without any parents,
who was wandering about, doing odd jobs, here and there, and getting
what people had a mind to pay him for his services.

   [Illustration: MIKE MARBLE AND THE BEGGAR.]

He was not a common vagrant, exactly, and yet he came very near being
one. It was not supposed that he was a vicious boy; still it could not
be denied that the life he led was tolerably well calculated to make
him vicious, and most of the neighbors were afraid to have him about
their houses, without keeping a sharp look out on his movements.

Mr. Marble had heard of the lad, though it so happened that he had
never met him until this time.

"Hallo, there, my boy!" said Uncle Mike, "what are you so busy about?"

"Eating a cold johnny-cake, sir," was the laconic answer.

"And how do you like it?"

"Pretty well, though I guess a little butter wouldn't hurt it."

"Look here, my lad," said Uncle Mike, "what do you do generally for a

"A little of every thing."

"Are you willing to work?"

"Yes, sir, if I can get any thing for it."

"Will you work for me?"

"I wouldn't mind trying it."

"I am a hard-working man. Will you work like a dog, if I'll let you

"Please, sir, I'd rather work like a boy."

"Good. You shall go home with me."

And he took the boy home with him. The first thing he set him about
was weeding the onion bed. It was hard work, as I know from
experience. Oh, how it makes a poor fellow's back ache, to stoop down
and weed onions for half a day. You must know that you can't use the
hoe more than about a quarter of the time. If you could, the work
would be comparatively easy and pleasant. But you can't do that. You
must bend right down to the task, as if you really loved the onions,
and were nursing them, as a fond mother nurses a pet child.

"Well, Fred," said the old gentleman, when the dinner horn blew its
blast of invitation for the workmen to come in and pay their respects
to Mrs. Marble's boiled pork and cabbage, "well, Fred, how do you like
weeding onion beds?"

"Very well, sir," said the boy.

"And would you like to keep at it all the afternoon?"

"I would like to please you, sir. That's what I came here for."

The old man was so much delighted with this answer, that he not only
laughed at it all the time he was at dinner, but he told it all over
the neighborhood in less than a week.

"Well, Fred," said he, "I guess you've done enough of that sort of
work for one day. I want you to do two or three errands after you have
done your dinner."

And he sent the lad to I don't know how many different places, to do
all sorts of errands. Among other things he directed him to do, was to
go to the store with money, to purchase some little articles for his
wife. You see the old man wanted to try the new comer, and see if he
was faithful.

Well, every thing was done properly, and Uncle Mike was satisfied.

The next day, Fred had other tasks given to him. His employer
selected those which were hardest and most unpleasant, as he said, "to
break the little fellow in." I'll tell you one thing he did. He sent
him out to catch the old mare. Now the old mare had a knack of kicking
those who came to catch her, when she was not perfectly satisfied with
their mode of doing the business; and she did not at all like the sly
and timid way in which Fred came up to her, with the bridle concealed
behind his back. She was a great lover of fair and open dealing;
though, like some others of her race, that I am acquainted with, as
well as some who belong to quite a different race, and who have the
name of being a good deal wiser, she did not always practice herself
the virtues she so highly commended in others.

She waited until the lad had got within a few feet of her, and then
she whirled round, before the poor fellow, who was half frightened out
of his wits, could have time to get out of her way, and let her heels
fly into the air over his head. It was well for the boy that she took
her aim so high. If it had been a foot or two lower, the _breaking
in_ would have been an expensive one to Fred--a very expensive one,

In such ways as those I have named, and in a great many other ways,
which I need not name, Uncle Mike tried the boy, to see what he was
made of. He found out, before long, what he was made of. He found out
that there was just such stuff in him as he liked. The more he tried
him--the more he "broke him in"--the better he was pleased with him.

Well, I'll tell you how that affair with the beggar turned--for I
must not make too long a story of it--Uncle Mike brought up the lad.
He taught him all the mysteries of farming, and treated him as if he
were a member of his own family--one of his own children--until he was
twenty-one. Then he told him he was free to go where he chose. He gave
him a hundred dollars in money, a yoke of oxen, a fine colt, and, what
was of more value than all, his blessing.

   [Illustration: MIKE MARBLE IN HIS OLD AGE.]

And what do you think became of Fred? He turned out to be not only a
good farmer, but a good neighbor, and a good man, every way. That
same man, who was once a beggar, and who, but for Uncle Mike's odd way
of doing a kind act for him, might have remained a beggar, is now one
of the most highly respected men in his parish, with enough property
to make him and his family comfortable, as well as some to spare for
the comfort of others.



I should love to chat about my old friend a good while longer. But
perhaps I had better stop, for fear you may get tired of the theme. I
must tell you a little about his old age, then I will leave off.

He was one of the happiest old men I ever knew. He was always
cheerful. One could never meet him in the street, and look into his
pleasant face, without catching something of his cheerfulness. Bad
humor is catching, you know, as much as the small pox, or the canker
rash, and so is good humor, too. At all events, I remember that once,
when I felt ever so much "out of sorts," because things did not go
right, I came across Uncle Mike, on my way to school, and a chat of
about half a minute completely sweetened my temper.

There was nothing which Uncle Mike liked better, after his hair--the
little hair that time had spared to him--was whitened with age, than
to have a group of children about him, coaxing him to tell them

Dear old man! my heart blesses him now, as my memory recalls the
scenes in which he used to take a part. With all his oddities and
crotchets, he always had a kind and warm heart beating in his bosom. I
don't believe that he ever had an enemy in the world. Every body, it
always seemed to me, respected him, and those who knew him most, loved
him best.

He possessed an art which is worth more than the finest farm in
America. It was the art of being happy himself, and of making others
happy. He was never out of humor. Nobody could get him into a passion.
I never heard of his having wounded the feelings of a single
individual, during all the time that I was acquainted with him.

Now some people will say, "Oh, it was Mike Marble's way. That was his
disposition. He could not help being good-natured. It came natural to
him to make friends. It was as easy for him to scatter happiness all
around him, as it was to breathe." I don't know about all that. There
may have been something--probably there was something--in Mike
Marble's natural disposition, which was pleasant and cheerful. But I
guess it cost him some effort to live in the sunshine so constantly.
There is such a thing, reader--and I hope you will mark these words
well--there is such a thing as keeping the heart fresh, and green, and
tender, and loving, by one's own effort; and there is such a thing,
too, as letting the heart, by neglect and want of culture, become old
before its time, and dry, and tough, and crabbed. You can school your
affections. Did you know that? I'll tell you how to dry up all the
love and kindness you may have. Shut up your heart, as an oyster does
its shell. Shut it up, and be selfish. Do so, and you will soon be
sick enough of the world, and the world will be sick enough of you.
But I would not do that, if I were in your place. I would advise you
to try to keep the heart open, by doing all the kind acts you can. But
I must end my tale of Mike Marble.

Dear old man! He has gone to his rest. His voice long since ceased to
be heard on earth. He died as he lived--cheerfully and peacefully. The
Saviour, in whom he had trusted, was with him in his dying hour, and I
cannot doubt that that good man went to dwell with the angels.

Reader, may you, like him, live a life of usefulness, and may you take
your leave of the world as peacefully, as hopefully, as cheerfully, at


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