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Title: Silas X. Floyd's Short Stories for Colored People Both Old and Young
Author: Floyd, Silas Xavier
Language: English
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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 Notes

  Text printed in italics has been transcribed between _underscores_.
  Small capitals have been replaced with ALL CAPITALS.

  More Transcriber’s Notes may be found at the end of this text.

[Illustration: SILAS X. FLOYD, AUGUSTA, GA.

_Corresponding Secretary National Association of Teachers in Colored


  _Entertaining_ _Uplifting_ _Interesting_

  Author of “The Gospel of Serv’ce and other Sermons,” “Life of
  Charles T. Walker, D. D.,” “National Perils,” etc.


  Published by





  The entire contents of this book are protected by the stringent new
  copyright law, and all persons are warned not to attempt to reproduce
  the text, in whole or in part, or any of the specially posed


Truly the boys and girls of to-day ought to be thankful that they are
alive. There never was such a golden age for childhood and youth as the
present. To say nothing of the rich opportunities for mental and
spiritual development, what a multitude of things have been provided for
the innocent pleasure, the wholesome recreation of the young people of
to-day, inventions that remind one of the magic of the “Arabian Nights”;
tools of sport so perfect that one cannot imagine how they could be
bettered; fascinating games, all unknown in the days gone by; books and
papers upon which science, art and literary skill have lavished modern
resources--all these and many other wonderful things have fallen to the
lot of the favored boys and girls of to-day.

And now enterprising publishers of our grand country are going to put
the boys and girls of America--and especially the colored boys and girls
of America--under obligation to them, because they have decided to add
to the list of good books for children and youths already on the market.
I use the word “good” advisedly; for from the day that I was engaged to
write this book I have had in mind constantly the thought of making it
such a book as would tell for good. It is an old saying that “evil
communications corrupt good manners,” but evil reading does more than
this: for evil reading corrupts good morals.

I have endeavored to put into this book of stories for children only
such things as might be freely admitted into the best homes of the land,
and I have written with the hope that many young minds may be elevated
by means of these stories and many hearts filled with high and holy
aspirations. Our nation has a right to expect that our boys and girls
shall turn out to be good men and good women, and this book is meant to
help in this process.



The publishers of this book have spared neither pains nor expense in
trying to make it as nearly perfect as a book of this kind can be. The
typographical appearance and the illustrations will speak for

We consider ourselves fortunate in having been able to secure the
services of the Rev. Dr. Silas X. Floyd as the author of this volume.
Mr. Floyd’s life work, aside from his literary training, has made him
the ideal man to speak to the colored boys and girls of the South. Soon
after graduating from Atlanta University in 1891, Mr. Floyd became
Principal of a Public School at Augusta, Ga., and remained in that city
for five years consecutively as a teacher. In June, 1896, he was called
from the school-room into the Sunday-school work, having been appointed
by the International Sunday School Convention as one of its Field
Workers throughout the South. He continued in this work for three years,
retiring from it to become Pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church, Augusta,
Ga., one of the largest churches in the South. After a year and a half
in the pastorate, he returned to the Sunday-school work, becoming
Sunday-school Missionary for Georgia and Alabama under appointment of
the American Baptist Publication Society.

Mr. Floyd’s work, as the record shows, has been conspicuously for and in
behalf of the children, and he is known far and wide as a competent
writer and speaker on topics concerning young people. He has contributed
to the Sunday School Times, the International Evangel, the New York
Independent, The World’s Work, Lippincott’s Magazine, and many other
journals and periodicals. He is the author of a volume of sermons
published by the American Baptist Publication Society, and listed in
their catalogue as among their standard works, and is also the author of
the Life of the leading colored Baptist preacher in America, published
by the National Baptist Publishing Board. From the beginning of the
Voice of the Negro, Mr. Floyd has had charge of the Wayside Department
as Editor, and his work as a humorist and writer of negro dialect is
known to many through that medium.

In 1894, Atlanta University, his alma mater, conferred upon Mr. Floyd
the degree of Master of Arts, and in 1902, Morris Brown College
conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Divinity.


  THE COWARDLY HERO                                                   17
  A SPELLING LESSON                                                   22
  THE TRUTH ABOUT LUCK                                                31
  AN EVENING AT HOME                                                  35
  THE MAKING OF A MAN                                                 38
  FALSE PRIDE                                                         42
  THANKSGIVING AT PINEY GROVE                                         46
  THE LOUD GIRL                                                       55
  THE ROWDY BOY                                                       60
  HONESTY                                                             62
  UNCLE NED AND THE INSURANCE SOLICITOR                               65
  THE STRENUOUS LIFE                                                  70
  A HUMBUG                                                            73
  HOW TO BE HANDSOME                                                  76
  PATIENCE                                                            78
  GOING WITH THE CROWD                                                81
  MARY AND HER DOLLS                                                  85
  JAKY TOLBERT’S PLAYMATES                                            88
  A VALENTINE PARTY                                                   92
  NO MONEY DOWN                                                       95
  TOMMY’S BABY BROTHER                                                99
  KEEPING SCHOOL                                                     102
  THE SCHOOL OF THE STREET                                           105
  THE FOX HUNT                                                       109
  A BOLD VENTURE                                                     114
  THE ROAD TO SUCCESS                                                117
  KEEPING ONES ENGAGEMENTS                                           120
  A MIDNIGHT MISHAP                                                  122
  FREDERICK DOUGLASS                                                 124
  OUR DUMB ANIMALS                                                   127
  A PLUCKY BOY                                                       129
  A HEART TO HEART TALK                                              132
  A GHOST STORY                                                      135
  GOOD CHEER                                                         141
  LIFE A BATTLE                                                      144
  HUNTING AN EASY PLACE                                              149
  THE BIG BLACK BURGLAR                                              153
  PIN MONEY MADE WITH THE NEEDLE                                     156
  SELF-HELP                                                          160
  AIMING AT SOMETHING                                                165
  THE BLACK SHEEP OF THE REYNOLDS FAMILY                             167
  THE HOLY BIBLE                                                     175
  ANDREW CARNEGIE’S ADVICE TO YOUNG MEN                              178
  DIRECTIONS FOR LITTLE GENTLEMEN                                    179
  THE RIGHT TO PLAY                                                  181
  A CHRISTMAS PRESENT                                                183
  THE NICKEL THAT BURNED IN FRANK’S POCKET                           185
  MONUMENT TO A BLACK MAN                                            188
  THE BAD BOY--WHO HE IS                                             190
  THE BAD BOY--HOW TO HELP HIM                                       193
  THOMAS GREENE BETHUNE (“BLIND TOM”)                                197
  NOT FIT TO KNOW                                                    200
  THE RIGHT WAY                                                      202
  KEEPING FRIENDSHIP IN REPAIR                                       205
  LITTLE ANNIE’S CHRISTMAS                                           208
  THE VELOCIPEDE RACE                                                211
  FAULT-FINDING                                                      213
  RANDOM REMARKS                                                     216
  BENJAMIN BANNEKER, THE NEGRO ASTRONOMER                            220
  “A LITTLE CHILD SHALL LEAD THEM”                                   224
  DIRECTIONS FOR LITTLE LADIES                                       230
  THREE WORDS TO YOUNG PEOPLE                                        232
  “A LAMP UNTO MY FEET”                                              238
  THE THREE BRIGADES                                                 241
  “HOME, SWEET HOME”                                                 243
  EACH ONE OF US OF IMPORTANCE                                       247
  THE POETRY OF LIFE                                                 248
  ON BEING IN EARNEST                                                250
  YOUNG PEOPLE AND LIFE INSURANCE                                    252
  THE LITTLE SAILOR CAT                                              255
  ADVICE TO LITTLE CHRISTIANS                                        257
  A WORD TO PARENTS                                                  259
  THE UNSEEN CHARMER                                                 262
  OUR COUNTRY                                                        265
  THE “DON’T-CARE” GIRL                                              267
  FREDERICK DOUGLASS TO YOUNG PEOPLE                                 270
  A GOOD FELLOW                                                      274
  THE FUTURE OF THE NEGRO                                            275
  THE TRAINING OF CHILDREN                                           277


Most remarkable Office Building in the world. Right next door to the
White House. Built of solid American Granite with over 500 rooms and
over two miles of marble halls.]


Most wonderful Library building in the world. Erected at a cost of
$7,000,000, upon a ten acre site. $20,000 worth of pure gold used in
covering the Dome. Has room for 4,000,000 books.]




George Washington Jones was his name. Where he got it nobody
knew,--least of all himself. For two years he had sold newspapers one
block from the big St. Charles Hotel in New Orleans. Very slender, with
great big hungry eyes, this little colored waif presented a pitiful
sight to the crowds that hurried by. He was scorned by the other
newsboys, who yelled and jeered at him, causing him to shrink up even
smaller and to glance fearfully at his tormentors, for George was what
the other boys called a coward. He would not fight,--when attacked and
imposed upon by his more sturdy associates he would throw up his hands
and cower down against the ground like a whipped dog. All boys know what
this means,--for months he was the mark for all of the coarse jokes and
abuse of the rather rough lot of boys who were also engaged in the
newspaper selling business thereabouts. He had lived ever since he
remembered with an old colored man in a wretched attic over on the South
Side,--the old man was a rag peddler and permitted him to share his
miserable quarters for the payment of fifty cents every Saturday night.
Poor food and poorer sleeping quarters had their effect, and George soon
developed a hacking cough that made people turn their heads to see who
it was and then hurry on faster than ever. One cold morning in
December, while George stood shivering on his corner, scarcely able to
shout loud enough to attract the attention of the passers by, a lady
about to enter an automobile glanced at him, noted pityingly his
emaciated and half-starved appearance, and the cough that wracked his
slight frame,--she stepped up and asked him his name and address, which
he gave, gazing in spell-bound admiration at this beautiful, fairy-like
creature from a different world.

It so happened that this young lady’s father was a very influential man,
and so in course of time the lady who had in the meantime called several
times at George’s wretched quarters, with eggs and milk and other
dainties, prevailed upon him to arrange for George to spend the spring
and summer in the country.

So one bright day in April, George arrived at a big Louisiana plantation
where he was to have good food and clothes, and when able, to do odd
jobs and chores about the place to pay for his board. The Grahams were a
couple who had been married seven or eight years and who had a little
daughter of six who was a dainty and pretty little miss, somewhat
spoiled, but naturally kind and good-hearted. To George she was the most
beautiful thing he had ever seen, an angel, not to be thought of at the
same time with earthly things. He soon became her devoted slave,
following her about and trying to think of something he could do that
would make her happy.

Now George did not change in the first few weeks of his stay with the
Grahams. He was afraid of the cows, of the horses, even of the geese
that ran around the yard. Little Louise, who had been raised in the
country, could not understand this feeling and did not hesitate to let
George know that she had nothing but contempt for his running wildly
away from an inoffensive cow who happened to turn her head in his

“But, dearest,” her mother said, “he has never even seen a cow before.
To him that cow is only an awfully dangerous thing with horns, a long
tail and big mouth.”

“Oh, but mamma, he is such an awful fraid cat,--whoever heard of getting
scared at a lot of silly geese?”

“Yes, I fear he is a hopeless coward,” said Mrs. Graham, “but he
certainly does work well.”

But the one thing that George feared above all other things was the dog
that lived on the Evans place next door. There was considerable excuse
for this fear, as the dog was a surly and somewhat dangerous brute, an
immense Great Dane, who had no love nor respect for any living thing
except his master. He seemed to take a savage delight in dashing to the
fence and making strenuous efforts to jump over and attack poor George
whenever he had to pass by. On such occasions, George would shriek and
dash wildly up the road, screaming in terror,--he feared the Great Dane
more than anything else on earth.

The days and weeks slipped by until the month of August. There had been
a long dry spell; everything was hot, parched and burning up, and it
seemed as if the earth was crying out for rain. Every one was cross and
irritable and although not meaning to be unreasonable, Mr. and Mrs.
Graham took considerable of their irritation out on our little colored
friend George,--he was ordered about and shouted at to move faster and
scolded and generally made the target for the ill humor of the entire

For some days the Great Dane had been acting strangely,--no one dared to
approach him, and on one occasion he even snapped at his master.

“Guess I’ll chain him up until the rain sets in,” said Mr. Evans.
However, the dog refused to be tied, avoiding his master and snapping
whenever he approached. Suddenly he gave a roar and sprang right at Mr.
Evans’ throat,--the man tripped and fell, which was the best thing he
could possibly have done under the circumstances, as the dog ignored
him, and, snapping right and left, dashed out of the gate and down the
road towards the Graham place.

“Great Heavens! The brute is mad!” gasped Evans.

If any one has seen a dog go mad, he will testify that it is not a
pretty sight. The maddened animal raced at top speed along the road,
snapping wildly at sticks and stones along the way, with froth and foam
flying from his mouth, his mammoth jaws closing and unclosing like the
teeth of an enormous trap.

Straight down the road and straight through the gate that opened into
the Graham yard dashed the enormous Great Dane--he was a hideous sight
to the bravest; what he looked like to George no one will ever know.
Graham, sitting on the porch, realized in an instant what had happened,
and sprang to the dining-room to get his rifle,--right in the path was
little Louise, with her dolls, sitting around a little table, in the
midst of a party--she rose to her feet, the great frenzied brute but a
few yards distant, her face paling, her lips unable to utter a sound.
Graham was quick, but not quick enough,--the dog would be upon the child
before he could possibly get ready to shoot, but quicker than Graham,
quicker than the dog, was George,--what he felt, what he suffered in
those few seconds, the Lord alone can tell--with a wild scream, he threw
himself right in the path of the maddened Great Dane, right at his
throat, shrieking and striking wildly with both clenched fists at the
huge head and body of the dog. With a snarl, the dog turned and caught
the negro boy,--but it was here that Providence took a hand, for he
grabbed not George himself, but his coat, worn and shabby from much use,
and the coat came off in his jaws,--before the dog could turn and renew
the attack, Mr. Graham shot twice rapidly from the porch and the dog
fell, writhing terribly in his death agonies.

White as a sheet, Graham ran quickly down the path and snatched Louise
up in his arms,--but Mrs. Graham, who had been an agonized eyewitness of
the near-tragedy, was almost as quick to reach George--throwing her arms
around him, she sobbed, “God bless you, George; that was the bravest
thing I ever saw.”

And in this way, George, the despised and ignored newsboy, who had
always been called a coward, came into his own. Such is true courage.
Poor boy, he was afraid, fearfully, awfully afraid! But he did not
hesitate to risk everything to save the golden-haired little daughter of
his employer.

George still remains on the Graham plantation, but you would scarcely
know him--he coughs no longer; he stands erect and is becoming strong
and sturdy; he has found himself, and no one will ever again have cause
to say to him, “You coward!”


There was no doubt about it,--of all the little colored boys and girls
who went to the Peabody school, Margaret was the dullest. Her teacher
said so, her friends said so, her parents were of the same opinion, and
if asked herself, Margaret would undoubtedly have frankly acknowledged
that her undisputed and proper place was at the foot of the class. Her
brother Charles, who was one year younger than she, had proudly
graduated from the fifth grade and was making rapid progress in the
sixth. He did not spend one-half the time studying that Margaret did,
and yet when it came time for recitations, he would stand up and recite
in a manner that warmed his teacher’s heart and made him the envy of
most all of his schoolmates.

[Illustration: AN EXCITING MOMENT.]

If Margaret was backward in her studies, little Mable Green certainly
was not. Arithmetic, geography, writing, reading, she excelled in all of
them. She was a very bright little colored girl and a very good looking
one, too. Mable knew this just as well as all of the boys and girls
did,--she was not exactly foolish and vain, but she had been so praised
and petted by her school friends and teachers that she was inclined to
be a little conceited, what we all would call “stuck up.” Once a month a
prize was given for the scholar who stood highest in certain studies,
and Mable had twice been the successful pupil,--she had two highly
prized silver medals to show for her skill.

Now one of the members of the school board was a farmer about forty
years of age, kind-hearted, but a little old-fashioned. He believed in
boys and girls knowing how to read and write and spell correctly, but he
did not care for what he called the “new-fangled” ideas of some of the
other members of the board. He was very much opposed to a course in
music and elocution that was being considered by the school board, and
did not hesitate to let every one know how he felt about it. Now he knew
Mable and liked her--he was very much interested in the way in which she
stood at the head of her classes and wanted to do something to encourage
her in sticking to the old-fashioned forms of education. He thought over
this for a long time, and finally decided to hold a spelling match. Now
you all probably know what a spelling match is. Two sides are chosen who
stand up on opposite sides of the room, and the teacher give out words,
commencing at the head of the row,--any one who misses a word has to sit
down, and the last one to stand up wins the prize for his side, also is
pronounced the best speller and gets the personal prize.

The board all thought this a fine scheme, and so it was decided to hold
the spelling match on Thanksgiving evening at the schoolhouse. The
teacher was to pronounce the words, while the members of the board were
to give her lists of words from which to choose.

“What are you going to give for a prize, Mr. Edwards?” asked the

“Well, I thought I would give twenty dollars,” replied the man. “Yes, I
rather plan to give a bright twenty-dollar gold piece.”

The news spread like wild fire. Never had there been such excitement.
This was a small fortune, and Mable’s mother pinned a bright red bow in
her hair, and put on her prettiest frock,--Mable had already considered
the prize as won,--in fact, she had planned just how she would spend
it,--she was a good speller and felt confident that she could win.

The night arrived, bright and crisp November weather, with a bright moon
overhead,--the little schoolhouse was packed. It was decided that all
children in the fifth, sixth and seventh grades would be allowed to
compete. Now, Margaret had been in a highly excited state ever since
hearing of the contest--strange to say, she was a good speller. It has
often been said, and quite correctly, too, that spelling is a
gift,--that some people spell correctly quite naturally, while no amount
of study or practice can make a good speller out of any one who was born
with a head that ached and throbbed at the mere thought of spelling. She
had never had fifty cents of her own in her whole life--twenty dollars
in gold--it did not seem possible that there could be that much money in
the whole world.

Sides were chosen and Margaret was almost hidden by fat Reggie Andrews,
who stood next to her. Mable was right across the room from her, and
smiled in a somewhat scornful manner at the girl she thought was a

The teacher began to pronounce the words and you could have almost heard
a pin drop; the first few times around but few scholars dropped out,
Reggie going down the third time on “mucilage.” Margaret gave a sigh of
relief--Reggie had made her very nervous.

Nothing happened that amounted to much until the teacher began to give
out words containing “ie” and “ei.” Now these words are very difficult
unless a speller knows the rule--“ie” is almost always used except after
the letter “c,”--following this letter “c,” it is always “ei.” Margaret
had learned this rule in the second grade, and these words had no terror
for her--she was gaining confidence now and the audience began to sit up
and take notice. Soon but five were left standing,--three on Margaret’s
side and only Mable and one little colored boy on the other. It seemed
for a time that these five would have to divide the prize,--word after
word was spelled and no one missed--the audience was hanging spellbound
on every syllable, and the dignified members of the board were trying to
act naturally, although in reality, greatly wrought up.

“Exhaustible,” suddenly said the teacher.

There was a moment’s hesitation, and then Ann Houston, on Margaret’s
side glibly said:


“Wrong; be seated,” and with much sniffling and rubbing her eyes, Ann
walked sorrowfully to her seat.

The boy on Mable’s side shuffled his feet, looked up, down and around
the room, and finally blurted out:


“Wrong!” and Bobbie joined Ann in sorrowful silence.

Rose Holcomb, the one remaining girl on Margaret’s side, had become
rattled--she rolled her eyes wildly up and down and then guessed,--she
made a very bad guess.

“E-c-h-o-s-t-i-b-l-e!” and Rose was also counted out and took her seat,
tossing her head and looking indifferently around.

It was now Mable’s turn, and she had sufficient intelligence to have
profited by the experience of Ann and Bobbie--had the word been
pronounced to her first, she would probably have misspelled it, but now
she spelled it out firmly and confidently, letter for letter, without a

Now Mable faced Margaret for the final test--both were greatly excited,
but their nervousness had passed--it was now that Margaret’s natural
ability came to her aid. Word after word she spelled, and the crowd
watched her in amazement. Here was the supposedly dull and backward
pupil, the recognized “foot of the class,” standing up gallantly to the
last against Mable, the favorite, to whom everybody had conceded the
prize as already won.

The largest cities in America, in South America and Europe, proper
names, animals,--the words became more and more difficult. Finally, the
names of flowers were given--Mable had studied botany and was familiar
with flowers--Margaret was now relying on her natural ability and
nerve--all things come to an end, and at last the teacher pronounced the
name of the flower--


Now it is a fact that there is probably no more tricky word in the
English language than this--it all depends upon where to place the
letter “s.” Mable knew what fuchsias were,--knew all about the different
parts, the petals, the stem,--she had spelled the word correctly many
times, but, alas, she was a trifle hasty and exclaimed:


“Wrong!”--Mable burst into tears,--and with loud sobs ran to her seat
and threw herself down, her face buried in her arms.

All eyes were now on Margaret. She was strongly tempted to spell this
commencing “ph”--it seemed correct, but something told her that Mable
had been almost right. Almost, but not quite! Mable’s dramatic finish
had given her time to think for a moment, and when the word was once
more pronounced she was ready--without hesitation she spelled slowly and


“Correct,--Margaret, you have won the prize.”

Margaret’s knees almost gave way under her--surely she must be
dreaming--it could not possibly be herself to whom the committeeman was
advancing with a light blue plush case--every one was clapping their
hands, and the boys had so forgotten themselves as to whistle through
their fingers and noisily stamp their feet.


“It gives me great pleasure,” said Mr. Edwards, “to give this
twenty-dollar gold piece to Margaret Hawkins, and to pronounce her the
best speller in the school.”

Poor Mable cried herself to sleep that night, but it was a good lesson
for her--it taught her to be more considerate of others, and that there
were something at which she could be beaten.

Every one treated Margaret with increased respect, and her success was
also good for her--she began to improve in her other studies, and as she
gained in confidence, gradually became, if not one of the best, at least
a very good scholar.

Mr. Edwards says his next prize will be given for the best all-around
pupil at the close of the term--and Mable is once more looking forward
with hope.


How often we hear some one say:

“My, but he’s lucky!” or “It’s better to be born lucky than rich.”

Boys and girls are too often in the habit of thinking that one of their
schoolmates are “lucky” because they always stand well in their classes
and frequently have spending money in their pockets.

It is not likely that “luck” had anything to do with it. They probably
stood well and were at the head of the class in school because they
studied and tried harder than the other scholars, and had money to spend
because they spent their time out of school hours in working to earn it
instead of at play.

Some years ago I happened to find myself near the terminal of the great
East River Bridge in New York City. Two little boys were standing near
one of the large iron posts crying their afternoon papers. I tarried
near them because I was waiting for a particular car. One little fellow
said to the other,--

“How many papers have you sold today, Tommie?”

“Nearly one hundred an’ fifty,” was Tommie’s quick reply.

“Honor bright?”

“Yes; honor bright.”

“Whoopee! but ain’t you in big luck, Tommie?”

“Luck!” exclaimed Tommie, wiping the perspiration from his brow. “There
ain’t no luck about it; I’ve just been everlastingly at it since four
o’clock this morning--that’s all!”

And that is the _all_ of real success. Those who achieve success are
“everlastingly at” what they are trying to do. Tommie was right in
declining to have his hard and honest work cheapened by calling the
result of it luck.

“You are the luckiest chap I ever saw,” I once heard a little boy about
sixteen years say to another boy of about the same age.


“Why do you say that?” asked the other.

“Because you have had your salary raised twice in the same year.”

“Well,” was the reply, “you may call it luck; but I don’t. I have always
done my work the very best I knew how. I have never once in the whole
year been a single minute late in getting to the office, nor have I ever
left a single minute before it was time for me to leave. When I have
worked over-time, I have not made any fuss about it. My boss said when
he raised my salary last week that he had taken these things into
account. So, I don’t see where the luck comes in.”

“All the same,” said the first boy, “some bosses wouldn’t have raised
your salary.”

“Then I would have the satisfaction of knowing that I had done my duty.”

Boys, I tell you that’s right. Nine out of ten employers know that it is
to their advantage to show appreciation of faithful work and they show
it. When this appreciation comes luck has had nothing to do with it. The
thing that passes for luck is in nearly all cases the just reward of
honest endeavor.

Do not, therefore, start out in life with the expectation that some
“lucky turn” will bring you sudden honor or wealth or position without
any effort on your part. Substitute that fine old word “_work_” for that
deceitful word “_luck_,” and base your hopes of future success and
usefulness upon the honorable labor that it is a God-given privilege
for every well and strong and right-minded boy to give his heart and
hands to performing.


Boys and girls between the ages of eleven and seventeen ought to spend
their evenings at home, as much as possible. In these busy, bustling
twentieth century days, there are many families--so much the worse for
them--that scarcely know what it is to spend an evening at home
together. Not only the young people but the older people are “on the
go.” The evenings are crowded with calls and invitations, which come
from far and near. It is nothing to go five or even ten miles to an
evening concert or social gathering, the trolley is so near, so cheap
and so universal. But I tell you, boys and girls, no matter what the
pleasure or amusement afforded--no matter what the instruction or
culture received--there are no social or similar opportunities good
enough to displace the home circle. The sooner young people realize this
the happier they will be.

Boys and girls ought to plan for some evenings at home. Let other things
have a share, but do not give up all the time to other things. Once a
week the young people ought to arrange for an evening at home. Decline
everything else for that evening, the same as you would for any other
engagement. Gather the family together. Make a special place for grandma
and grandpa. Sing merry songs; play innocent and amusing games; take
time to tell the home folks about some of the things that you do and
that you have seen in the world; get acquainted with the home folks; be
delighted in their delight; by special appointment, spend one or two
cheerful hours with the folks at home each week.

[Illustration: AN EVENING AT HOME.]

The young folks themselves should take the lead in this matter. A home
is not merely a place with four walls where people meet to eat and drink
and sleep securely beneath a roof. Nay, boys and girls, a house is
reared to be a _home_--the center where a family may gather into one; to
be a serene retreat where the tenderest affections may find rest; where
love may have a dwelling place, and the _amenities_ of life gain ample
scope; where parents and children may press one another heart to heart;
where sorrows and joys may be freely shared in sacred confidence; in a
word, where the great work of training human beings for the duties of
the present life, and the perfection of another, may be begun and
carried on.

There is one special reason for making much of the evenings at home that
young people are not likely to think of. _Inevitably_ the _family_
circle will be broken up very soon. Perhaps not by death, but most
certainly by change. When Fred goes to college that is the beginning of
new ties and new associations, and the home privileges can never be
quite so complete to him again. The years of the complete unity of the
home are very few indeed. While these years are passing, young people
especially should make the most of them. My dear boys and girls, get the
benefit of these years; get their joys; store up memories of home life,
for they will be in future years the most beautiful pictures of the
heart. However some may sneer at it, the memory of home and mother is a
great power for righteousness. It has saved many a person to God and
native land and race.

  “Be it ever so humble--
  There’s no place like home.”


Mr. Stamps, seated near the table, was glancing over the afternoon
paper. Mrs. Stamps, in an easy chair, was doing some fancy work. Little
Bobby, six years old, more or less, was playing with his toys on the
floor. All at once the precocious little boy stopped short in the middle
of his sport and, looking up at his mother, asked,--

“Mama, who made the world?”

“God,” replied Mrs. Stamps, sweetly.

“Who made the sea?” continued Bobby.

Mrs. Stamps answered, “God.”

“Well,” said Bobby, “did God make everything?”

“Yes, my son; the Lord made everything.”

“And did he make everybody?”

“Yes; the Lord made everybody.”

Bobby was silent for a moment. Presently he looked anxiously at his
father, and then, turning to his mother, he asked,--

“Mama, did God make papa, too?”

“Yes; God made papa also.”

After a lengthy pause Bobby asked,--

“Mama, do you think that I could make a man, if I was to try real hard?”

“You had better run out to play now, Bobby,” said Mrs. Stamps, somewhat
non-plused by her son’s curiosity.

[Illustration: BOBBY AND HIS “MAN.”]

Bobby left the room almost immediately. He went straight to the beach in
front of the house, and labored long and earnestly in piling up some wet
sand. Pretty soon he was joined in his work by two other little boys.
For some time the three little fellows worked vigorously in piling up
the mud. Mrs. Stamps called her husband to the window, so that he might
see what the boys were doing.

“Wife,” said Mr. Stamps, “I believe those little Satans are trying to
make a man.”

Toward sunset Bobby ran into the house and exclaimed with delight,--

“Mama, we’ve got our man almost finished. We didn’t have but one marble,
and we used that for one of his eyes. I came in to ask you to give me a
marble, so that we might put in his other eye.”

“It’s too late to bother now, Bobby,” said Mrs. Stamps. “Wait until
to-morrow morning; then I will give you a marble and let you finish your

The next morning, bright and early, Bobby went out to look for his man.
Lo and behold! the sea had washed the man away during the night. But,
Bobby, of course, did not suspect that. He thought that the man had gone
away of his own accord. So the little fellow spent the entire morning
looking for his man. He looked under the house; he looked in the stable;
he went up to the garret; he walked up and down the beach; he went into
the woods--looking for his man. But his man was nowhere to be found.

Two or three weeks later an African Methodist Episcopal Conference
assembled in Bobby’s town. Among the ministers present there happened
to be a short, chubby, tan-colored brother with only one eye. When Bobby
spied him he examined the man curiously and cautiously from head to
foot. The examination ended, Bobby concluded that that was his man. At
once the little fellow left his mother and went over and took a seat
beside the man. Bobby’s mother was somewhat embarrassed. The man was
evidently pleased, although, to be sure, he himself was not quite
certain why he should be an object of special interest to the little
boy. The man went to the secretary’s table to have his name
enrolled--Bobby went with him. He went into the vestibule to get a drink
of water--and Bobby followed him there. But all the while the man was
still in doubt as to the cause of the little boy’s apparent affection.
By this time, thoroughly exasperated, Bobby’s mother decided to go home.
She approached the pew in a very ladylike manner and said,--

“Bobby, dear, come; we must be going home now.”

“All right, Mama,” said Bobby in dead earnest, “but you will please let
me take my man home with me--won’t you? I just found him to-day, and you
know I’ve been looking for him for over two weeks!”

Then, for the first time, it suddenly dawned upon Mrs. Stamps what was
the matter with Bobby. In spite of herself she laughed heartily at the
boy’s perversity. Finding that his mother hesitated to reply, Bobby
turned to the man and said,--

“Come on: we’re going home now. Why did you leave before I finished

  [1] Published in the Voice of the Negro.


Once upon a time the head clerk in a carpet store requested one of his
junior clerks to go to a patron’s home to measure a room, and suggested
that he take along a five-yard sample. The junior clerk objected to
“carting” such a big bundle, as he said, “all over town,” and asked that
one of the boys be sent with it. The proprietor of the establishment,
who happened to overhear the remark, privately told the head-clerk to
inform the proud young fellow that a boy would be sent on after him with
the roll. Shortly after the young man reached the house, the proprietor
of the establishment covered him with confusion by appearing at the
house in person with the roll of carpet under his arm. Handing the
bundle to the bewildered young man, the proprietor remarked:

“Here is the carpet, young man. I hope I have not kept you waiting for
it. If you have any other orders, I’ll take them now.”


       *       *       *       *       *

A young woman of my acquaintance refused to carry home a yeast cake,
though it was needed at once for the family baking and she was bound
directly homeward. She said that she wasn’t a delivery wagon, and so the
yeast cake had to be sent to her home.

A great many foolish young people are so absorbingly regardful of their
trim appearance on the street that they will never under any
circumstances carry a basket or bundle, however much inconvenience they
may cause others by refusing to do so.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now, it is not proper pride or self-respect which prompts people to act
as the young folks acted whom I have just referred to. It is silliness
which prompts them to act so. Any honest work is honorable that is
honorably done, and you will notice that young people of good social
position and strength of character are above such pettiness. Only
inferior people act that way. Superior people do not act so, because
they are well aware that they cannot be compromised by doing
straightforwardly, without fuss or apology, whatever needs to be done.
Yet, I admit, that it seems to be human nature that whatever is
distasteful or supposedly menial should be done by somebody else. When
young people, or old people for that matter, are tempted to be foolish
in such things they should remember the lesson of humility that Christ
taught his disciples, when in that warm Oriental country, where only
sandals are worn, He performed the necessary service of washing the
disciples’ feet. For us to be above our business--for us to think
ourselves too good or too dainty to soil our hands with honest toil--for
us to feel that it is a lowering of our dignity to carry a bundle
through the street, is to prove by our conduct that we are not up to the
level of our business, that we are possessed of a great amount of false
pride, and, in a higher sense, it shows that we have a foolish and
wicked distaste of true service. There is nothing low, nothing
degrading, nothing disgraceful, in honest labor, in honest work of any
kind, whether it be to boil an egg properly, to sweep a floor well, to
carry a bundle or package through the streets, or bring a pail of water.
In fact, if somebody were to say that “chores” done or undone are the
making or the unmaking of boys and girls, it would be a homely way of
putting an important truth. Bringing up coal or bringing in wood,
weeding the garden bed, running errands, washing dishes, sewing seams,
dusting furniture, doing any odd jobs where there is need, cheerfully,
faithfully--these lead to the highway of greater opportunities and are
the usual avenues to the only manhood and womanhood that is worth
having. My young friends, the castle of your noblest dream is built out
of what lies nearest at hand. It is the uncommonly good use of common
things, the everyday opportunities, that makes honored lives, and helps
us, and helps us to help others, along the sunroad. “He that is faithful
in that which is least is faithful also in much.” “Pride goeth before
destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”


The people of the Piney Grove settlement, both white and black, had been
free for nearly a generation. The whites had been freed from the curse
of being slave-holders, and the blacks had been freed from the curse of
being held in bondage. But never in the history of this little town, in
the very heart of the so-called “Black Belt” of Georgia, had the people
known anything about the proper observance of Thanksgiving Day until
189--. And in that year the revolution was brought about by a young
colored woman named Grace Wilkins.

Grace Wilkins was the only daughter of Solomon and Amanda Wilkins.
Solomon and his wife were farmers--plain, simple, ordinary country folk.
Amanda was literally her husband’s helpmeet. She went along with him
every morning to the field, and, in season, chopped as much wood, picked
as much cotton, hoed as much corn, pulled as much fodder, and plowed as
much as her husband did. Up to her fourteenth year Grace had been reared
on a farm, and had learned to do all the things that any farmer’s child
has to do--such as milking cows, feeding hogs and chickens, hoeing
cotton and corn, picking cotton, pulling fodder and the like. In her
fourteenth year, acting upon the advice of an uneducated colored
preacher, her parents sent Grace away from home to attend one of the
great normal and industrial institutes for the training of the black
boys and girls of the South.


At first her mother and father were filled with forebodings. It was the
first time that they had ever allowed their daughter to be away from
them, and they missed her so much and longed for her so constantly that
they thought that they had made a mistake in sending her off to
“boardin’ school.” Ignorant and superstitious neighbors, though they
knew as little about such matters as did Solomon and Amanda, were loud
in saying that “Sol” and “Mandy” would live to regret the step they had
taken in sending Grace away from home. The only rays of sunshine that
came in to brighten these periods of mental unrest and gloom on the part
of Mr. and Mrs. Wilkins were found in the letters which they received
regularly from their daughter. Grace invariably informed her parents,
whenever she wrote, that she was “well an’ doin’ well.” Thus reassured
from time to time, Solomon and Amanda managed somehow to undergo the
terrible strain of having their daughter absent from them for eight
months. But meantime they were firmly of the opinion that, once they got
their hands on her again, they would never allow Grace to return to

With glad and thankful hearts Mr. and Mrs. Wilkins joyously embraced
their daughter when she came home at the close of her first year in
school. With keen and genuine interest, they listened to her wonderful
accounts of the great school and of the great man at the head of it.
Grace dressed differently and talked differently; and her mother said,
speaking one day in confidence to her husband shortly after Grace’s
return, “Dat gal’s sho got a new walk on her!”

Grace Wilkins brought back a toothbrush with her from school. That was
something which she had never had before. She used that toothbrush every
morning and night. That was something that she had never done before.
She was now careful to keep her hair well combed every day. That was
something that she had been accustomed to do on Sundays only or on
special occasions. She washed her face two or three times a day now, as
her mother and father noticed. Before she went to school she had been in
the habit of giving her face, as the old people say, “a lick and a
promise” early each morning. Besides, Grace kept the house cleaner than
she had kept it before. She brought home with her a brand new Bible
which she read regularly at home and always carried to church and Sunday
school. She also had a song book called “Jubilee Songs and Plantation
Melodies,” and it gladdened the hearts of the good “old folks at home”
to hear their daughter sing from a book some of the very songs that they
had sung all their lifetime and which were so dear to them.

All these things and others made a deep and abiding impression upon
Solomon and his wife. And finding that withal their daughter was just as
loving and kind as she had been before, and that she was just as
industrious and faithful as formerly, Mr. and Mrs. Wilkins were not long
in deciding that their daughter should go back to that school another
year, and that they would work hard and stint themselves in order that
they might keep her there until she had finished the normal course.

So back to school Grace Wilkins went--that year, and the next year, and
the next. It was the proudest day in Solomon’s and Amanda’s lives when
they sat in the magnificent chapel of the school and heard their
daughter read her graduation essay on “The Gospel of Service.” Glad
tears welled up in their eyes when they heard the principal call their
daughter’s name, and then saw Grace step up to receive her certificate
of graduation.

Coming back to Piney Grove to live, “Miss Gracie”--everybody called her
that after graduation--established a little school which she called “The
Piney Grove Academy.” It was the first public school for colored
children ever opened within the corporate limits of the little village.
Before that the schools were district schools or county schools, which
were taught about in different places for only three or four months in
the year, mainly during the summer. Miss Gracie began her school the
first day of October. By special arrangement she used the first three
months for the public term allowed by the state, and supplemented that
with a five-months term, for which the pupils were required to pay fifty
cents each per month. The plan worked well, the parents joining in
heartily in the movement, and the Piney Grove Academy soon became the
model school for the surrounding counties.

[Illustration: GRACE’S GRADUATION.]

Among other things Miss Gracie had learned at school what was the import
of our national Thanksgiving Day. At the opening of the second year of
the Piney Grove Academy she decided that she would inaugurate an annual
Thanksgiving service. Accordingly on the opening day of the second year
Miss Gracie informed the pupils of her plan, and told them that she
would begin the very next day to prepare a suitable program for the
exercises. Afterwards Miss Gracie secured the cooperation of the village
pastor--the same man who had been instrumental in having her parents
send her away to school. Through him she was permitted to talk to the
people at the church two or three times about the proposed celebration.
She was careful to tell them that the Thanksgiving festival was meant
specially to be a home festival in addition to being a time for the
people to come together in their accustomed places of worship to thank
God for the blessings of the year. She urged them, therefore, as far as
they were able without going to unnecessary expense, to have family
dinners and bring together at one time and in one place as many members
of the family as possible. She explained to them how this might be done
successfully and economically, and with pleasure and profit to all
concerned. She also urged them to be planning beforehand so that nothing
might prevent their attending church Thanksgiving Day morning. She was
going to hold the exercises in the church, because her little school was
not large enough to furnish an assembly hall for the people who would be
likely to be present.

On Thanksgiving Day nearly everybody in town went to the exercises.
Many white people attended, including the county school commissioner and
the school trustees. It was the first Thanksgiving service that any of
them had ever witnessed.

The program was made up, for the most part, of choice selections from
negro authors, composers, orators, and so forth. A selection from
Frederick Douglass on “Patriotism” was declaimed; one from Booker T.
Washington’s Atlanta Exposition speech was also delivered. Paul Laurence
Dunbar’s poem entitled “Signs of the Times” (a Thanksgiving poem) was
read by one of the pupils, and also “The Party,” another of Dunbar’s
pieces, was rendered. “The Negro National Hymn,” words by James W.
Johnson and music by his brother, Rosamond Johnson, was sung by a chorus
of fifty voices. At the opening of the service the president’s
Thanksgiving proclamation was read and appropriate remarks were made by
Miss Wilkins. The closing remarks were made by the Rev. John Jones, the
village pastor. The remarks of Mr. Jones were in the congratulatory
mood. He was naturally proud of Miss Gracie’s achievements, because he
had had something to do with putting her on the road to an education. He
spoke of the teacher as the leaven that was leavening the whole lump,
and the applause which followed the statement showed plainly the high
esteem in which the teacher was held by all the people. Everyone enjoyed
the service. None of the villagers had ever seen anything like it
before. After singing “America” all of them went away happy, many of
them, in obedience to Miss Gracie’s previous counsel, going home to eat
for the first time, well knowing what they were doing, a Thanksgiving

At the home of Miss Wilkins there was an excellent spread of ’possum,
potatoes, rice, chicken, pickles, macaroni, bread, a precious
Thanksgiving turkey, and the inevitable mincemeat pie. Besides Miss
Gracie, there sat at the table that day her parents, Mr. and Mrs.
Solomon Wilkins, John and Joseph Wilkins, brothers of Solomon who had
come from a distance, Mary Andrews, a sister of Mrs. Wilkins, who also
came from a distance, Grandma Wilkins, Grandma and Grandpa Andrews, the
Rev. John Jones, his wife, his daughter, and his only son, Jasper Jones.

Jasper had gone to school at T---- one year after Gracie went, and, of
course, was one year later in finishing the course there. On this
Thanksgiving Day, nevertheless, he had been out of school long enough to
have successfully established himself in the business of poultry raising
and dairying.

Just before the dinner party was dismissed the Rev. Mr. Jones arose and

“There is another little ceremony you’all is invited to witness befo’
you go out to see the baseball game. I am authorized by these
credentials which I hol’ in my hands to unite in the holy bonds of
matrimony Miss Grace Wilkins and Mr. Jasper Jones. If there is no
objection, these two persons will please stan’ up, an’ I’ll tie the

Of course there were no objections. The knot was tied. And when the
villagers learned of the occurrence not long afterwards they had
additional reason for believing that they were right when they voted
that Piney Grove had never seen the like of such a Thanksgiving Day, and
that Miss Gracie Wilkins was one of the best women in all the world.


I do not know of a more sorrowful spectacle than that of a girl who is
loud in her dress, loud in her manners, and loud in her speech. It is a
great mistake for a girl to suppose that this loudness will be mistaken
by her friends and acquaintances for smartness. The desire to be
regarded as bright and witty has led many a girl into the folly of being
loud in her manners. She often cherishes the illusion that the attention
such manners attract is combined with admiration, when the truth is that
those who witness her strange conduct are simply wondering how it is
possible for her to throw to the winds that charm of all


One afternoon not long ago I saw a group of girls of the loud type. They
came into the street car in which I was sitting. They all wore boys’
hats. One wore a vivid red jacket with brass buttons, and another had on
a brass belt. A third one had on a most conspicuous plaid skirt. This
third one had a box of bonbons, and when the three were seated she
opened the box and offered it to her companions, saying as she did so,
in a voice loud enough and shrill enough to be heard in every part of
the car:

[Illustration: MODEST AND QUIET.]

“It’s my treat; have some, chums!”

Upon this invitation one of the girls dived down into the box like a
hungry bear, and held up a piece of the candy in triumph and then dashed
it into her mouth with a great guffaw. “O, Mame!” said one of the girls,
“if you ain’t just horrid to go and take the very piece I wanted!”

“Mame” laughed and, taking the candy from her mouth, offered it to the
other girl, saying as she did so:

“Well, here it is, Lulu!”

“Lulu” struck the candy from “Mame’s” hand, and it flew across the aisle
into the lap of a lady sitting opposite the girls. This set all three of
the girls to giggling and tittering, and they seemed in danger of
convulsions when the owner of the box of candy let it fall and a part of
the candy rolled out on the floor.

The conductor came forward and picked up the box and candy and handed
them to the owner. She giggled out her thanks, and “Lulu” said: “Why
didn’t you give him a gumdrop for his trouble?”

This seemed to impress the other girls as a most brilliant witticism,
and they fell to tittering violently over it.

Presently a gentleman came in and stumbled slightly over the feet of one
of the girls thrust out into the aisle.

“I beg your pardon,” said the gentleman, as he lifted his hat, whereupon
the three girls grinned and giggled and giggled and grinned
immoderately, and one of them said:

“Roxy, you had better ride out on the platform, where there is more room
for your feet!”

“Roxy” then struck “Lulu” for making this speech. “Lulu” pretended to be
much offended and flung herself over to the other side of the car, where
she made a grimace at the other girls.

The conduct of these girls during the half hour that they were on the
car was such as caused every father and mother who saw them to regard
them with pity. The loud girl, my dear readers, is always an object of
pity. She should be a sorry object for her own contemplation. An old
writer has said: “You little know what you have done when you have first
broken the bounds of modesty; you have set open the door of your fancy
to the devil, so that he can represent the same sinful pleasure to you

Now, the loud girl may be entirely innocent of any actual wrong-doing,
but she is regarded with dislike, distrust, and even disdain, by the
better class of people. She acquires a reputation for rudeness and
coarseness, and the people of refinement will not associate with her.
Her character suffers, no matter how innocent she may be of any
intention of doing wrong. Delicacy, modesty, is the certain sign of
sweetness, purity and gentleness of character, just as indelicacy is the
certain sign of a lack of these beautiful traits.


You can tell him wherever you see him. There are certain marks or
appearances which he carries about with him and which are never absent.
For one thing you will find him with a cigarette stuck in his mouth, and
a cigarette is one of the deadliest poisons in the world for boy or man.
He wears his hat on the side or cocked back on his head. Frequently he
stuffs both hands in his trousers’ pockets. He doesn’t attend school
regularly; sometimes he starts for school and ends at the bathing pond
or the baseball park. He is late at Sunday school, if he goes at all,
and he stands ’round on the outside at church while the service is going
on inside. He steals rides on trains and on trolley cars, and on passing
vehicles of all descriptions. He is saucy and impudent to older people,
and is always ready and willing to quarrel or fight with his mates. He
is what the boys call a “bully.”

The loud girl and the rowdy boy are two things of which we have seen
enough in this world. They are things; they are hardly worth the dignity
of being called human beings.

I saw one of these rowdy boys in his own home not a great while ago. His
mother said to him:

“Johnnie, you must always take off your hat whenever you come into the

“Good gracious alive,” he said, “I can’t do anything right. What is the
use of grabbing off your hat every time you come into your own house?”


His mother looked sad, but said nothing. Presently she discovered that
her little boy had brought some mud into the house on his shoes. In her
sweetest tones she said:

“Johnnie, you must go to the door and wipe your feet now. See how you
are tracking up the floor there!”

“Well,” said the rowdy boy with a snarl, “can’t the old floor be
scoured? You must think this old house is gold.”

Now, I am a preacher, boys, and, being a preacher, of course I am what
is called a “man of peace,” but I tell you that that was one time I came
pretty near wishing that I wasn’t a preacher so that I might have given
that boy what he deserved. I was sorry, for the time being, that he
wasn’t my son. No manly little boy will ever talk to his mother in any
such way. I suppose that boy thought it made him appear to be a very
important personage, but he was very much mistaken. Don’t be rowdy,
boys; don’t be rough; don’t be rude. You were made for better things.


Early in the morning two little boys came to the market place. They
arranged their little stands and spread out their wares, and sat down to
wait for customers. One sold watermelons and fruit, and the other sold
fish and oysters. The hours passed on and both were doing well.
By-and-by Sammie had only one melon left on his stand. A gentleman came
along and said:

“What a fine, large melon! I think I will buy that one. What do you ask
for it, my boy?”

[Illustration: “HOW MUCH FOR THE MELON?”]

“This is my last melon, sir; and though it looks fair, there is an
unsound spot on the other side,” said the boy, turning the melon over.

“So there is,” said the man. “I don’t believe I’ll take it. But,” he
added, looking straight at the boy, “is it very good business for you
to point out the defects of your goods to customers?”

“Perhaps not, sir,” said the boy with becoming modesty, “but it is
better than being dishonest.”

“You are right, my boy; always speak the truth and you will find favor
with God and man. I shall not forget your little stand in the future.”

Then turning to the other boy’s stand the man asked:

“Are those fresh oysters?”

“Yes, sir,” said Freddie, “these are fresh this morning--just arrived.”

The gentleman bought them and went away.

“Sammie,” said Freddie, “you never will learn any sense. What did you
want to show that man that spot on the melon for? He never would have
looked at it until he got home. I’ve got an eye to business, myself. You
see how I got rid of those stale oysters--sold them for just the same
price as fresh oysters.”

“Freddie,” said the other boy, “I wouldn’t tell a lie, or act one
either, for twice the money we have both earned today. Besides I have
gained a customer and you have lost one.”

And it turned out just as Sammie said. The next day the gentleman bought
a large supply of fruit from Sammie, but he never spent another penny at
Freddie’s stand. It continued that way through all the summer. At the
close of the season he took Sammie into his store, and, after awhile,
gave him a share in the business.


Life insurance is something that every married man should carry. In
fact, it is a fine investment for a young man to take out a ten- or
twenty-year payment policy in some good company, which can be made in
favor of his father or mother in the event of his death, or obtained in
cash ten or twenty years later by himself.

The following story tells of an insurance agent trying to insure the
life of an old colored man--the story is amusing, but only as a story.
We do not advise any one to follow Uncle Ned’s example.

Charles Turner, an agent of the Workingmen’s Industrial Aid Insurance
Company, called upon Edmund Grant, an elderly colored man, with a view
to getting him to insure his life.

“Good morning, Uncle Ned,” said Mr. Turner.

“Good morning, Mr. Turner,” said the old man, raising his hat and making
a low bow.

“Uncle Ned, do you carry any insurance?” inquired the agent.

“Do I carry what?” asked Uncle Ned.

“Do you carry any insurance? Is your life insured?” asked the agent.

“Bless the Lord, yes, indeed, sir,” replied the colored man; “long, long

“In what company?” asked the solicitor.


“I’m a Baptist, sir,--a deepwater Baptist,” answered Uncle Ned.

The agent realized that the old man had not understood him, but, anyhow,
he asked him:

“How long has it been since you joined?”

“I joined the same year the stars fell,” replied the old man.

The solicitor knew that the old man referred to the year when the great
meteoric display of shooting stars took place, and said:

“That’s quite a long time ago. Does your company pay any dividends?”

“Mr. Turner,” said Uncle Ned, with a smile, “that question is out of my
reach,--just what do you mean?”

“Why, Uncle Ned,” said Mr. Turner, “a dividend is interest paid on your
money; and if you have been paying your money into one company for more
than thirty years, surely you ought to have been receiving your
dividends long before now, especially if it’s an old-line company.”

“Well,” said Uncle Ned, “it surely is the oldest line company that ever
was. The Lord set it up himself way back yonder on Calvary’s tree. But I
haven’t ever heard of any interest or dividends--nothing of the kind.
And you haven’t heard me talk about paying in money for thirty
years,--you know you haven’t. Salvation’s free, man,--salvation’s free!
You know that as well as I do.”

“Oh, I see,” said Mr. Turner; “I see that I have misunderstood you.
You’re talking about your soul’s salvation.”

“I certainly am,” answered the old man.

“Well, I came here to talk to you about insuring your life in case of
death or your body in case of accident or sickness,” replied the agent.

“Accidents, sickness and death come to all of us,” said Uncle Ned very
solemnly. “There’s no way of getting away from death.”

“That’s so,” replied the agent patiently; “insurance companies cannot
prevent sickness and death any more than you can, Uncle Ned, but
insurance companies can and do help you to bear your burdens in time of

“That’s just what my religion does,” said the old man, with great

“But we do it in a different way,” persisted the agent.

“How do you do it?” asked Uncle Ned.

Then the agent went on to explain all about insurance, the benefits, the
premiums, accident benefits, sick benefits, etc., dwelling particularly
on the fund that would be paid in the event of the old man’s death.
Uncle Ned listened with a great deal of interest, and after he had
finished, inquired:

“Mr. Turner, who do you say the money goes to when I die?”

“To your wife,” answered Mr. Turner, “or to your children, or any one
else you name.”

“Well, Mr. Turner, let me ask you one question: Don’t you think that
would help the other fellow more than it would me?”

“What other fellow?” asked the agent.

“My wife’s second husband,” replied Ned. “You know as well as I do that
if I was to die and leave five or six hundred dollars to her that some
other colored gentleman would be trying to change her name before I got
cold in the ground.”

The agent could not suppress a smile, and Uncle Ned went on:

“Women are mighty curious; if I went into this thing, I wouldn’t dare
let Dinah know about it. She is a mighty fine and loving wife right now,
but if she knew there was all that money waiting for her when I died,
wouldn’t she be sort of looking forward to the time when she would get
it to spend? Why, Mr. Turner, she might even be tempted to put something
in my tea, and the first thing I knew some morning I’d wake up dead. I
don’t want anything to do with this insurance. The Baptist Church is
good enough for me.”

When Mr. Turner gave it up and laughingly left him, he heard Uncle Ned

  “I’m a Baptist bred and a Baptist born,
  And when I die, that’s a Baptist gone.”


They were having a rough-and-tumble time of it and Pansy was getting
some pretty hard blows. She took them all good-naturedly, nevertheless,
and tried to give as good as she received, much to the delight of her
little boy friends. A lady who was standing near, afraid for the little
girl, chided the boys and said:

“You shouldn’t handle Pansy so roughly--you might hurt her.”

And then Pansy looked up in sweet surprise and said with amusing

“No; they won’t hurt me. I don’t break easy.”

It was a thoroughly childlike expression, but it had more wisdom in it
than Pansy knew. She spoke out of a little girl’s experience with dolls,
some of which, as she had learned, broke very easily. Pansy knew how
delightful it was to have a doll that didn’t break so easily. Though she
was not a homely girl by any means, and though she was not a wicked
little girl, yet she wanted it understood that she was not like a piece
of china. That was why the other children liked her so much--because she
knew how to rough it without crying or complaining at every turn. Pansy
was not a cry-baby.

[Illustration: “I DON’T BREAK EASY.”]

There is all the time, my dear boys and girls, a great demand everywhere
all through life for people who don’t break easily--people who know how
to take hard knocks without going all to pieces. The game of life is
sometimes rough, even among those who mean to play fair. It is very
trying when we have to deal with people who break easily, and are always
getting hurt and spoiling the game with their tears and complaints. It
is so much better when we have to deal with people who, like little
Pansy, do not break easily. Some of them will laugh off the hardest
words without wincing at all. You can jostle them as you will, but they
don’t fall down every time you shove them, and they don’t cry every time
they are pushed aside. You can’t but like them, they take life so
heartily and so sensibly. You don’t have to hold yourself in with them
all the time. You can let yourself out freely without being on pins as
to the result. Young people of this class make good playmates or good
work-fellows, as the case may be.

So, boys and girls, you must learn to rough it a little. Don’t be a
china doll, going to smash at every hard knock. If you get hard blows
take them cheerily and as easily as you can. Even if some blow comes
when you least expect it, and knocks you off your feet for a minute,
don’t let it floor you long. Everybody likes the fellow who can get up
when he is knocked down and blink the tears away and pitch in again.
Learning to get yourself accustomed to a little hard treatment will be
good for you. Hard words and hard fortune often make us--if we don’t let
them break us. Stand up to your work or play courageously, and when you
hear words that hurt, when you are hit hard with the blunders or
misdeeds of others, when life goes roughly with you, keep right on in a
happy, companionable, courageous, helpful spirit, and let the world
know that you don’t break easily.


A boy or girl who is pleasant and agreeable everywhere except at home is
a humbug. I know one boy who is a good deal of a humbug, although you
would never think so if you were to see him in any place outside of his
home. He is good-looking, neat and tidy, and carries himself like a
little man. I do not know of a boy who can tip his hat more gracefully
to a lady, or who can say, “I beg your pardon,” or “excuse me, please,”
more pleasantly than he can. But, for all that, he is a humbug.

I visited his home the other day. I heard his mother speak to him.

“Alexander,” she said.

“Well, what do you want?” he asked in a voice which plainly indicated
his displeasure.

“I want you to do something for me.”

“Oh, you are always wanting me to do something just when I want to be
doing something else,” said Alexander, and this time he was whining.

In departing on his errand Alexander accidentally ran against his little
sister in the hall. I expected to hear him say, “I beg your pardon” in
the pleasant way that I knew he could say it, but he snapped out

“Oh, get out of the way, can’t you?”

[Illustration: “OH, GET OUT OF THE WAY, CAN’T YOU?”]

When he returned from the postoffice, Alexander’s mother was out in the
yard trimming the flowers. While Alexander was reporting to her she
happened to drop her scissors. I expected to see her polite and dutiful
son pick them up, as he was close by when the scissors fell; but the boy
paid no attention to the scissors. When his mother said, “Please pick up
my scissors for me, Alexander,” he said:

“What did you drop ’em for?”

I spent the best part of one whole day at Alexander’s home, and never
once during all that day did I hear him speak politely to his mother or
sisters, nor did he observe the ordinary rules of courtesy and good
behavior in their presence. He was continually grumbling and complaining
and finding fault. So I think I have a right to say that this boy is a
good deal of a humbug. Any boy is a humbug who is polite and gracious to
others and in every way discourteous and disagreeable at home. Don’t you
think so, too?


Do you want to be handsome? I’ll tell you how.

First, look well to your health. Eat regularly and simply, and take
proper rest, in order to be healthy. Do not crowd the stomach. The
stomach can no more work all the time, night and day, than a horse; it
must have regular rest. The body must have proper rest also. Do not keep
late hours. Go to bed early. If you have work which must be done, it is
a good deal better to rise early in the morning and do it than it is to
sit up late at night and work.

Secondly, good teeth are essential to good looks. Brush the teeth
regularly with a soft brush morning and night, especially at night. Be
sure to go to bed at night with clean teeth.

Thirdly, look well to the ventilation of your bedrooms. No one can have
a clear skin who breathes bad air. Fresh air is a preventive of a
multitude of diseases. Bad air is the cause of a great many premature

Fourthly, cleanliness of the entire body is of vast importance. Some one
has said that “Cleanliness is next to godliness,” and some one else has
added, “And soap is a means of grace.” Handsome people not only eat
regularly and simply; they not only sleep regularly and look well to
proper ventilation; but handsome people will take regular baths.

Fifthly, more than all else, in order to look well you must wake up the
mind and soul. When the mind is awake, the dull, sleepy look passes away
from the eyes. Keep thinking pleasant and noble thoughts; do not read
trashy novels or books; read books which have something good in them.
Talk with people who know something. Be often in the company of those
who know more than you do. Hear lectures and sermons and profit by them.
If we listen and understand and heed, the mind and soul are awakened. So
much the better if the spiritual nature is aroused. Sometimes a plain
face is really glorified with the love of God and of man which shines
through it.

Lastly, keep a strong and vigorous body by taking plenty of wholesome
outdoor exercise, and do all the good you can.

Why not begin to grow handsome today?



Patience is one of the marks of a high character. It might well be
called the habit of closing the mind against disagreeable and annoying
conditions. To acquire this habit so effectually as to hide even from
one’s self any sense of suffering or offense from contact with such
conditions is what the truly cultivated aim at. Life, it is true, is
full of trying things, but to let the mind dwell upon them only serves
to increase their offense to the feelings or the senses.

[Illustration: PATIENCE.]

There are people, of course, who are incapable of self-concentration,
and whose imagination, if left free to gad about, seems always to fix
upon and exaggerate every element of disturbance. They live in what is
called an elementary stage of moral discipline, and are perpetually
fretting about things they cannot help. They are never able to shut down
the will against any unpleasantness. They permit merely accidental
conditions to exercise a kind of tyrannical sway over them, which, if
their minds were once bent to the practice of putting up with things,
would cease to present any annoyance whatever.

It is difficult, no doubt, to acquire this habit, but this is what
patience means in its highest sense. It is spiritual endurance, and its
chief power consists not so much in adding to the number of our joys as
in lessening the number of our sufferings. It is, therefore, a mark of
power over one’s self and a means of power over others. With patience
the outward success or failure of a man is a small thing compared with
that success which he has achieved within himself. And that kind of
success--the success which enables a man to laugh at failure and rise
superior to discouragements and difficulties--that kind of success is a
means of help and inspiration to all those about him.

If we consider the works of nature we shall see that nature’s most
beneficent operations are the results of patience. Anything which grows
must have time, and the best things in the world are generally those
things which demand the longest time for their growth and development.
The rank and short-lived weed reaches its full development in the
shortest possible time, but the oak, which is to stand for centuries,
demands the sunshine and the storm of years before its strength is fully

Now, boys and girls, one of the hardest demands which nature makes upon
people (especially upon young people, full of strength and energy and
ambition) is to wait for the results of growth. No man becomes instantly
strong morally; he must grow into strength. However great his ambition
and his zeal may be, no man becomes a scholar in a year. It takes time,
and lots of it. No man reaches at a single bound the full development of
his whole nature. He grows into strength. A good soldier cannot be made
without war, nor can a skillful seaman be made on land.

So in the race of life we must fight hard for all we get and be patient.
Whatever else may be true, or may not be true, only patient and
continued efforts--not hasty efforts--lead to success.

Before me lies a block of wood. It is full of knots. It seems to me I
can never split it. But I bravely make the attempt. The first blow makes
little impression. The axe springs back with a bound. Again and again I
strike. Then a tiny crack appears. A few more licks--and the block
yields. I have succeeded. Can you tell me which blow did the work? Was
it not the first blow and the last and all between? You have tried
something and failed. Try again. If you fail, try once more. And on and
on, keep trying until you win the victory.


  Eyes like the violet--in them I see
  All that is fair, that is holy to me!
  Eyes that shed fragrance, so constant, so true,
  Pure as a clear drop of morning dew.

  Eyes like the violet, gently along
  Lead me to vespers--to prayer and to song.
  Eyes like the violet, let me I pray
  Live within range of thy glances all day!


“But all the girls went, mother. I didn’t like to be the only one left
out. Besides, when I said I wouldn’t go they all laughed at me and said
that I was a coward.”

It was Wednesday morning, before school time, and Anna was dreading to
go back to school--dreading to meet her teacher. The day before a circus
had been in town. At recess, while the children were on the playground,
they heard the noise of the band, and one of the girls said:

“Let’s go and see the parade.”

“All right,” said Anna. “I’ll go and ask the teacher if we may.”

“No; don’t ask her--she might say no. We can get back before the bell
rings, and she will never know that we left the grounds.”

Anna and one or two other girls held back. They all knew that it was
against the rules to go off the playground at recess without permission.

“Oh, come on! Come on!” insisted one of the girls. “You’re afraid;
you’re afraid! Come on! Don’t be such a coward; all the rest are going.”

And so Anna went.

When the girls saw the parade pass one point they wanted to see it once
more, and away they went through the cross street to get to another
corner ahead of the procession. School was forgotten; and when they did
remember, recess time was long past and it was too late to go back.

The next morning, as Anna stood in the kitchen talking it over with her
mother, her little heart was very heavy. She knew she had done wrong;
she dreaded to go to school; and she was very unhappy.

“Perhaps,” said her mother, “if you had been brave about not going, the
other girls would have stayed on the school grounds too. Or, if you had
asked the teacher, I think she would have let you all go. But whether
she did or not, it is never safe to do a thing just because ‘all the
rest do it.’ Going with the crowd is not a good plan unless you are sure
that the crowd is going in the right direction. The only wise thing for
you to do is to be sure you are right, and then stick to it and never
mind what the crowd does.”

“I didn’t mean to do wrong,” said Anna, as the tears started in her


“I know that, my dear,” said her mother, “but you were more afraid of
being teased than you were of doing wrong. I hope you will remember from
this day forward that the brave girl is not the girl who dares to do
wrong, but the brave girl is the one who does what she knows to be
right, in spite of the taunts and jeers of her playmates.”

“What shall I tell my teacher?” asked Anna in a low voice, as she
dropped her head.

“Oh,” said her mother, kissing her, “you go right straight to your
teacher and tell her that you have done wrong, and that you are sorry
for it. Ask her to let you say so to the whole school. Be sure to beg
her pardon, and promise not to do so again.”

Little Anna did as her mother told her. That afternoon, when she came
back from school, she ran into her mother’s arms and said:

“Mother, I’m so happy. Teacher forgave me, and I mean to be good.”

And the smile on Anna’s face spoke plainly of a happy heart.


Was there ever a time when the first doll was born? Was there ever a
time when little boys and girls, especially little girls, did not love
dolls and did not have something of that nature to play with? It would
appear that dolls, or playthings somewhat like unto dolls, are as old as
babies themselves--that is to say, boys and girls, that ever since there
have been little children in the world there have been little things for
them to play with. And I never saw a sane person in my life who regrets
that it is so. It is not only amusing, it is inspiring to see the little
children making merry with their dolls and their toy animals and their
little express wagons and their wooden guns and their toy steam engines
and their whistles and their balloons and their brownies and their
jumping-jacks and their hobby-horses and a hundred and one other things.

[Illustration: MARY AND HER DOLLS.]

Mary had put away her dolls for the night and was cleaning the doll
house when papa came in.

“How many doll babies have you now, Mary?” he asked.

“I have five dolls now, papa,” said Mary, “but only one is a baby--that
is little Flossie. Robbie and Nell are three years old now; Mattie is
two and Jerusha is one year old. Flossie is now the only little baby.”

The Rev. Dr. Smithson smiled.

“Well,” he said after a time, “five dolls make a big family, I think.”

“I don’t,” said Mary quickly. “Rolla Mays has thirteen girls and two
boys in her doll family, and I haven’t but five in all!”

“I shouldn’t think,” said Dr. Smithson, “that Rolla would know what to
do with so many.”

“Why, papa, of course she does!”

“Mary,” said Dr. Smithson, looking thoughtfully at his little daughter,
“I have a little girl in my Sunday school class who hasn’t a single
doll. I thought you might like to give her one of yours. You could spare
one--couldn’t you?”

“Oh, papa, I couldn’t--not a one,” exclaimed Mary.

“Not one--when this poor little girl hasn’t any?”

“Oh, papa, I love my dolls so--how can I give them away?”

“You’d have four left--wouldn’t that be enough?”

Mary thought a long while before speaking. She looked distressed.

“Papa,” she said at last, “Mrs. Grant was over here the other day, and
she said that she wished you and mamma would give me to her because she
didn’t have any little girl of her own. You’ve got five children
yourself, papa--but would you give any of ’em away just because you
would have four left?”

Dr. Smithson took his little daughter in his arms and kissed her.

“No, dear,” he said; “papa wouldn’t give any one of his children away.
You may keep all of your dollies, and we’ll think of some other way to
help poor little Hattie.”

The next morning Mary said:

“Papa, I have thought it all out for Hattie. You know I have been saving
up a little money to buy me a little iron bank--but I can wait for that.
I have saved up fifty cents--don’t you think that will be enough to buy
a nice little dolly for Hattie, and let me keep my babies?”

Dr. Smithson knew that Mary had long been planning for the bank. So he

“Are you quite sure that you want to spend your money in this way?”

“Yes, papa, I’m very sure,” said Mary with a smile, though there was a
hint of sadness in her eyes.

Dr. Smithson and Mary bought Hattie a pretty doll. Hattie was overjoyed
when she saw it. Mary went back home, glad that her papa had understood
how she loved her dolls, and glad to find that not one of her beloved
children was missing.


“Well, Johnnie, where are you going this morning?” asked Mrs. Jones as
her little boy started towards the gate.

“I’m goin’ over to Jaky’s, mamma; you know I must go over to Jaky’s
every day.”

“What do you find at Jaky’s to make you so anxious to go over there
every day almost before you are out of bed good?”

“Oh, mamma, Jaky has the nicest playmates over to his house you ’most
ever saw.”

“Who else goes over to Jaky’s besides you?” asked Mrs. Jones.

“Jaky don’t have no reg’lar visitor but me,” said Johnnie proudly. “Me
an’ Jaky is the whole thing.”

“Well, you are saying a good deal for yourself when you say that Jaky
has the nicest playmates in the world--don’t you think so?”

[Illustration: “I’M GOING OVER TO JAKY’S, MAMMA.”]

“I didn’t mean me,” explained Johnnie. “Jaky’s playmates ain’t folks at
all. Jaky’s playmates is animals--just animals, but I do believe that
they have got as much sense as some folks I know.”

“What kind of animals?” asked Mrs. Jones, becoming interested.

Then Johnnie went on to explain. He said:

“Jaky’s got chickens and dogs and cats and birds. He’s got names for all
of ’em, and they all know their names and they just run to Jaky when he
calls them. The chickens and birds, too, will just walk right up and eat
out of Jaky’s hand. And his trained dogs and cats are just the funniest
things I ever saw. His little dog, Trip, can carry a gun and obey the
commands, “Carry arms!” “Present arms!” “Parade rest!” just like a
little soldier. One time at a fair he saw trained dogs and horses,
elephants, and even lions. Then he decided that he would train some
animals himself. And, mamma, he has done well. Why, he’s got a cat that
can spell some words. Jaky printed some letters of the alphabet on
separate cards, and he’s got a cat that will pick out the right ones
every time. One of his little dogs can play the fiddle. It may seem
strange, but he certainly can do it. He can hold the fiddle, and draw
the bow across it just the right way, and he can play a little tune.
Jaky calls it a dog tune, and I think he ought to know.

“You just ought to see Jaky’s chickens--he’s got six of ’em. He calls
them and they all come running. Then he holds out his arm, and calls
them by name, and they will jump up on his little arm, one after the
other, and will sit there until Jaky tells them to jump down. And Jaky
is so kind to his two birds that they won’t fly away when he lets them
out of their cages for a little while. He can take them up in his arms
and pat them gently, and then he puts them down, and they will lie still
right by Jaky until Jaky calls them by name and tells them to go into
the house--that is, I mean, into their cages.

“By the way, mama, I forgot to tell you. Jaky is getting up an animal
show, and he says that I am to be his manager. He’s going to print the
cards to-day. He’s going to call his circus, “JAKY TOLBERT’S GREAT
ANIMAL SHOW--THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH,” and he’s going to make me the
manager of his circus. Won’t that be fine? You’ll come and see it--won’t
you? We’re going to charge only one cent for you to come in. Oh, it’s
going to be great, and I don’t want you to miss it.”

“To be sure, I’ll come,” said Mrs. Jones. “Tell Jaky I’m glad to hear
about how much he loves the dumb animals--every manly boy ought to love
and protect them.”

“I tell you,” said Johnnie, as he hurried out of the gate, “Jaky will
fight anybody who hallooes at one of his pets or mistreats one in the
least. He’s just as kind to them as he can be. Don’t you forget the
show. It’ll come off next week.”


It was one week from St. Valentine’s Day, and the Berry children had
already provided a number of the tokens, comic and otherwise, which they
meant to send to their friends. Jack produced a grotesque and awfully
exaggerated caricature of a withered, stoop-shouldered old woman, with
some cruel lines of doggerel printed beneath it.

“I’m going to send this to old Mrs. Gray,” said Jack, as he exhibited
the comic picture.

Nearly all the children laughed, and said that the picture and the words
beneath it would just suit the old woman. Mrs. Gray was an old and
poverty-stricken widow woman, and many of the children of the little
village took delight in playing tricks on her on Hallowe’en and
Valentine nights. In this way, the children, especially the boys, had
made her life so miserable that the old woman often said that she hated
even the sight of a boy. In the midst of the merriment over the proposed
venture of Jack Berry, it was Lillie Berry who spoke up, saying,----

“Jack, I tell you what I think. I think we ought to give Mrs. Gray a
genuine surprise next week. She has had so many ups and downs in this
life, I really believe that we can give her a little pleasure if we give
her a true--true surprise. Of course, all the boys and girls will be
invited to join in, but it is not going to be like a regular party, but
something like the ‘surprise’ parties or donation parties that we
sometimes give the preacher; we’ll just put the things on the doorstep
and run, the way we do with valentines, you know. What do you say to
that, Jack? And what do the rest of you think?”

[Illustration: OLD MRS. GRAY.]

Very quickly the Berry children agreed with what Lillie had said, and
immediately they set about planning for the valentine party.

The night of February fourteenth was clear, cold and moonless. Across
the fields in the darkness, a throng of merry young children, with a
wagon or two (little goat wagons) piled high with baskets and bundles
and wood, slipped silently toward the little house where old Mrs. Gray
sat shivering over her scanty fire. A sudden knock at the door aroused
Mrs. Gray from her musing. She hobbled painfully to the door. Opening
it, she saw by the light of the tallow candle a basket of rosy apples
and another of potatoes. Nothing else was in sight.

A second knock followed almost as soon as the door had closed on the two
baskets which were hurriedly drawn inside. This time a can of kerosene
oil held a lonely vigil on the doorstep.

“I haven’t had a drop in my lamp for two weeks,” Jack heard the old lady
say, as she peered out eagerly into the darkness before closing the

As she was busy filling her lamp, she was interrupted by a third knock,
which resulted in a basket filled with groceries in parcels in all
shapes and sizes. Great tears stood in Mrs. Gray’s eyes, and a great
lump arose in her throat.

At last knock number four revealed the real Saint Valentine--a group of
laughing boys and girls, every one of whom carried an armful either of
pine or oak wood for the stove.

“Where shall we put it?” asked Jack Berry, as eager now to help as he
had been the week before to tease. Mrs. Gray was rubbing her eyes, and
wondering if she could possibly be awake and in her right mind.

“Wish you many happy returns of Valentine’s Day!” said Lillie Berry, as
she slipped into the withered hand a small purse containing the
valentine money of the boys and girls; and before the bewildered woman
could say more than a fervent “God bless you,” her guests had melted
away in the darkness, and she was left to weep tears of thankfulness
among her new possessions.


Boys and girls, I suppose you are quite familiar with what is known as
buying things on the instalment plan. You have seen people in your own
neighborhood--perhaps in your own homes--buy things that way. Chairs,
tables, bed-steads, rugs, pictures, things for the kitchen and things to
wear, and many other things are bought that way. Most people think they
are getting a great bargain when they are able to buy things by paying a
small amount in cash as the first payment--say fifty-cents or a
dollar--and then pay the balance in small weekly or monthly payments.
And especially do some of our mothers and fathers think that they are
getting a great bargain, if they are able to buy things they want for
“no money down” and so much a week. In such matters, my dear boys and
girls, your parents are making a terrible mistake and are setting you a
wrong example. They lose sight of the fact, when they fall into the
habit of buying anything and everything on the instalment plan or on the
“no money down” plan, that a day of reckoning is sure to come; that the
time comes when they must pay for everything that they have been led
into buying. Thoughtful people--wise people--prefer to pay “money down”
when they buy anything; and this habit of paying as they go helps them
in at least two ways. First, it saves money in their pockets, and,
secondly, it keeps them from running in debt.

Children, these men who come to your homes with great packs on their
backs always charge you double for whatever they may sell you on the “no
money down” plan--no matter what it is! That is why they are willing to
make the terms so “easy,” as they say. In the end they profit by their
schemes, and nobody else does profit by their schemes except these
peddlers. You ought to avoid them as you would a wild beast. You do not
know now, boys and girls, what a terrible thing debt is. I honestly hope
that you may never know, and if you will take the advice of older and
wiser persons I am sure you will always be free from the bondage of

Not long ago, I saw two women standing at the window of one of these “no
money down” or “hand-me-down” stores. One said to the other--

“I just believe I’ll get me a new cloak this winter. My cloak didn’t
cost but three dollars, and it is so old and shabby that I am ashamed to
wear it in the street. Look at that beauty over there in the corner.
Only ten dollars and ‘no money down’.”

“Yes;” said her companion, “but I guess the money will have to come down

“Oh, of course; but, you know, I won’t have to pay it all at once. I
could probably get it for fifty cents a week.”

“Well, why don’t you just save the fifty cents a week until you have
enough to pay ‘cash down’ for the cloak, and in that way you would save,
I am sure, three or four dollars; because you can buy that same cloak
for six dollars or seven dollars in cash.”

“Oh,” said the woman, “I’d never save it as I would if I had the cloak
and knew that I just had to pay for it.”

“But, Delia, the cloak would not really be yours until you had paid for
it, and I would feel kind of cheap wearing a cloak that didn’t belong to
me. If I were you I would stick to the old cloak until I could pay the
money down for a new one. That’s what I would do.”

And that is exactly what anybody should do who wants a new cloak. It is
what people should do, no matter what they want. I know a boy fifteen or
sixteen years old who had the courage and the manliness and the honesty
to wear a very shabby old overcoat all of last winter rather than buy
one on the “no money down” plan. It is his plan always to “pay as he
goes,” and be debtor to no one.

I heard the other day of a young fellow who goes two or three blocks out
of his way to avoid passing certain stores because he owes the
proprietors of those stores money that he cannot pay. That boy, I know,
is miserable night and day. Mr. Longfellow, in his “The Village
Blacksmith,” tells us that the honest old blacksmith could look “the
whole world in the face,” because he did not owe anybody anything--he
was out of debt. And boys and girls, if you are level-headed, you will
fight shy of the “no money down” plan. By choosing the “money down”
plan, you will save your self-respect and your good name.


For several months Deacon Tadpole’s little son, Tommy, had made constant
and repeated reference to the fact that he had no little baby brother or
sister to play with. One day, when he was feeling unusually sad over his
misfortune, he said to his father,----

“Papa, I ain’t got no little baby brother to play with--you might at
least buy me a little pony.”

“Papa can’t buy a pony, son;” said the deacon. “A pony costs too much. I
thought you wanted a little brother or sister.”

“I do,” said Tommy, “but if I can’t get what I want I’m willing to take
what I can get.”

“But, you would rather have a little brother than a pony, wouldn’t you?”
asked Mr. Tadpole.

Tommy thought awhile and then said he thought he would rather have a
little baby brother than to have a pony.

“You see,” he said, “it costs so much to keep a pony, and we would have
to build a stable for him, wouldn’t we, papa?”

“Yes,” answered his father, “and we haven’t got any room in the backyard
for a stable.”

“And we’d have to buy hay, too,” said the child.

“Yes,” said his father.

“Well, I’d rather have the little brother.”


So the matter was left in abeyance until a month ago, when little Tommy
was told one morning that a little brother had come to him.

He was delighted. He danced around in the hall and made such a racket on
the stairs that the nurse threatened to have him sent away. When he was
permitted to see the baby, Tommy went into ecstasies. He wanted to kiss
the baby, and cried because they wouldn’t let him hold it in his arms.

But Tommy’s enthusiasm for the new baby began to wear off in about a
week’s time. It was always, “Sh-sh! Sh-sh! You’ll wake the baby,” or
“Tommy, you must be more quiet!” or “You can’t come in this room now!”

In fact, the little baby brother seemed to be interfering with little
Tommy’s fun to such an extent that he decided to go to his father and
see if some new arrangement could not be made. Tommy found his father in
the library. He ran to Deacon Tadpole and climbed upon his knee, and

“Papa, I don’t believe I want my little brother any more. I can’t have
any fun with him. I’ll tell you what let’s do. Let’s trade him for a

“Oh, we couldn’t do that,” said the deacon.

Tommy was silent for a time. Then he said:

“Well, I don’t suppose we could find anybody that would want to trade a
pony for him, but don’t you think you could trade him for a goat?”


Every boy and girl in America ought to go to school. The public school
is one of the best institutions connected with the life of our nation.
But did you ever hear of a little girl who went to school to herself? I
have, and I want to tell you about it.

We will call her Tootsie.

There was no school-house, and no teachers; nothing only just little
Tootsie; not even her dolls; just simply Tootsie sitting all alone on
the couch near the window. That was all there was to this little school,
so far as anybody could see.

But Tootsie said she had a large school, with some sixty pupils.
Sometimes she would say that her scholars had been naughty and that they
would have to stay in at recess; and then again she would say that they
had been promoted to a higher grade; she often talked to her pupils as
if they were real live people, telling them how they should stand and
how they should sit and giving them permission to be excused, and so on.
So you see it seemed in Tootsie’s mind very much more like a real school
than it could to us.

[Illustration: TOOTSIE!]

Every morning, when Tootsie’s sister would start for school, Tootsie
would watch her until she was out of sight, and then she would go and
sit down on the couch. Not having a true-true school book, she would
take her Christmas story books. At first she would only look at the
pictures and try to think what the story about them must be. Then she
would ask mamma or grandma, or whoever happened to be nearest, what the
words of the picture-story were. She would then say the words of the
story over to herself and look at the picture. Next day she would read
over the words of the same story as far as she could remember them, and
when she came to a word that she did not know, up she would jump and go
and ask some one what it was. When she had learned a story herself, she
would then talk to her sixty imaginary scholars about it, showing them
the picture and explaining the story to them just as though the children
were all there before her in her little school room.

In this way Tootsie went through one after another of her story books,
picking out the stories that had pleasing pictures.

But the nice thing of it all was that Tootsie was really learning to
read, and she did get so that she read real well; for she knew just what
she was reading about, and often, when she would find a story that was
funny, she would laugh right out even if she was at school, and then she
would find mama or grandma and read the funny part to them.

Maybe one reason why Tootsie learned so fast was because her school was
just like play to her and not like work. Of course, it is easier to play
than it is to work. But could you think of any better thing to play than
to play keeping school? Why not try it? It helped Tootsie wonderfully,
and I believe it would help many other boys and girls. What do you think
about it?


Little Joe, ten years old, had followed his business as a newsboy and
bootblack in Smutville for three or four years, and, of course, had
turned out to be a first-class little citizen of the street. He could
curse and swear, and drink and smoke, just the same as any old hardened

One day, after Joe had finished one of his daily fights with some other
small boy, a kind-hearted gentleman stepped up to him and said,----

“My little man, do you go to school?”

“Nope,” said Joe.

“Do you go to Sunday-school?”


“Well,” said the gentleman, “what do you expect to do when you are

“I ain’t going to wait till I’m grown--I’m going to be a jockey; that’s
what I’m going to be.”

“How would you like to be bank cashier or president of a great bank?
Wouldn’t you like that better?”

“Yep,” said the boy, “but a poor boy can’t get no job like that--now you
know he couldn’t.”

“Oh, yes; he could if he were to prepare himself for it. But a poor boy,
and no other boy, will ever be a great business man if he is going to
live forever in the street--cursing and swearing and fighting and, it
may be, stealing, and having no higher ambition than to be a jockey.”

“Are you a parson?” asked the boy, becoming interested.

[Illustration: LITTLE JOE.]

“No, but I am interested in little boys. I am the secretary of the Young
Men’s Christian Association and we have a boys’ department. I want you
to join it. I have found out about your habits and your surroundings; I
was told of the death of your mother and father; and I made up my mind
to come and ask you to come over to the Young Men’s Christian
Association and live with us. You may continue to sell your papers and
black boots, but, you see, living with us, you can go to school at
night, and some day you will have a good education--and you might be a
bank cashier.”

Little Joe took this good man’s advice and went to live in the Y. M. C.
A. building. He did not turn out to be a bank cashier or president, but
what was better, Joe turned out to be a General Secretary of one of the
largest Y. M. C. A.’s among the colored people of this country, and in
that way has been instrumental in saving a great many other boys from
the gutter.

But Joe would never have amounted to anything if he had not been taken
away from the wicked influences of the street, and placed on the road to
higher things. The worst school in this world that any boy can go to is
the school of the street. The school of the street turns out the most
impure, the most dishonest and the most illiterate boys, and those boys
and girls who ever rise to be anything or anybody in the world are the
ones who leave the influences of the street in due time, as Little Joe
did. The street offers most of its work and most of its attractions at
night, as many boys can tell. The life of the street leads to no career
that is worth following. The good careers are made by those whom the
street has not had a chance to spoil, or by those who are taken out of
the streets before they become hopeless cases.

There is no greater error than the common notion that it is a good thing
to let a boy run the streets and become “hard” and “tough” and “have his
wits sharpened” and make “a little man” of himself, as some foolish
people say. A boy learns more downright mischief in one night in the
street than he can unlearn in the home in six months. And so, what will
the teaching of the home, the public school and the Sunday-school amount
to, if we are going to give our boys in their young and tender years the
freedom of the streets? If now and then a street boy--that is to say, a
boy hardened in the ways of the street--does get a good place, in most
cases he will lose it and fall back to the old, free life of the gutter.
The boys who succeed are the boys who get away from, or who are taken
away from, the influences of the street and who are surrounded by better
and more wholesome influences. Those who remain under the influences of
the street become in the course of time members of the great army of
beggars, tramps and criminals. It is a great pity that there should be
so many stories going the rounds which tell about newsboys and messenger
boys and so on rising to be bank clerks and telegraph-operators and so
forth. On the whole, these stories are misleading, and for the reason
that they seem to give the impression to many innocent boys and to many
thoughtless parents that the surest way to give a boy a good start in
life is to send him out into the streets to “rough it” and fight his way
to the front over beer bottles, games of chance, the race-track, and the
pool room, to the accompaniment of vulgar jokes, profane swearing and
evil associates. I repeat: The school of the street is the worst school
in the world, and the sooner boys get out of it the better it will be
for them.


Uncle Hambright used to pride himself upon his ability to invent amusing
games for the children. Sometimes he found it hard to think of anything
new, but the demands of the children were so insistent and his desire to
please them always was so intense that it often happened that Uncle
Hambright could almost make a way out of no way.

Dinner-time was fast approaching. All the morning, the half-dozen little
children, who were spending the day with Uncle Hambright at the
Sunday-school picnic, had been playing every conceivable sort of game
and had been enjoying every imaginable kind of story told in Uncle Ham’s
inimitable way,--but still the children were not satisfied. “Just one
more story,” or “Just one more game,” or “Give us your best game now for
the last before dinner,”--the children clamored one after another.

“Very well,” said Uncle Ham. “You all wait until I come back, and then
we’ll play fox-hunting.”

Uncle Ham went and told his sister and her husband, the parents of the
little children, to take the dinner-baskets far into the woods to the
place which they had already agreed upon as the spot where the
dinner-table should be spread. Coming back to the children, Uncle Ham

“Now, we are ready. Come close and listen while I explain.”

[Illustration: UNCLE HAMBRIGHT.]

With anxious hearts and eager faces, and clapping their glad hands, the
children gathered around Uncle Ham.

“Now,” said he, “I have a piece of chalk here in my hand. I am going to
make something like this wherever I go along.” While he was speaking he
made a round ring on the fence close by. He put marks for the ears and
feet and a mark for the tail. Then he continued: “This is the fox. I’m
going to make foxes along the path that I take into the woods--sometimes
these foxes may be on fences, sometimes on trees, sometimes on rocks, or
anywhere I wish to place them. Whenever you find a fox you will know
that you are on the right road, and you must be sure each time to follow
in the direction that the head of the fox points. Then you won’t lose
your way. You must give me a little start, because I must be out of
sight before you all begin the hunt. At the end of the hunt, if you
follow carefully, you will find a large present waiting for each one of
you. You may help yourself to whatever you like, and then we shall all
come back together, because, you know, I will be at the end myself
waiting for you when you come.”

It seemed that the ten minutes start that the children had agreed to
give Uncle Hambright would never come to an end, so eager were they to
begin the hunt. By-and-by the time came, and they were off. The first
few foxes had been drawn on the board-walk, so the hunters had easy
sailing for a little while. Pretty soon, however, one of the girls
discovered a fox on a tree, and the head of the fox pointed right into
the woods. At first the children halted. The eldest girl said finally,
after studying a few minutes,----

“Let’s go on; Uncle Hambright wouldn’t take us where anything could hurt
us, and, besides, he said he would be waiting at the end.”

Thus re-assured, all of them plunged into the woods. Once in the woods
the little foxes drawn on trees and stumps carried them right along by
the side of a babbling brook for a long distance. Sometimes they would
find one fox, and then they would find it very hard to locate the next
one. It was great fun for them to scurry about in the woods, examining
trees, stumps, rocks and everything, hunting for the foxes. Finally one
of the little girls found a fox on a fence. The head of the fox pointed
upwards. The little child said,----

“This little fox seems to be pointing to heaven; I’m sure we can’t go up

“Oh, no;” said the oldest girl, again coming to the rescue,--“I think
that that little fox leads over the fence--that’s all.”

So, over the fence they jumped and continued the chase.

[Illustration: “WAIT HERE UNTIL I RETURN.”]

The course proved to be zig-zag now for a few minutes, and the children
found the foxes more and more difficult to locate. They felt safe again,
when the foxes were found on stones or rocks leading up the side of a
hill. The woods began to thin out, and the children were no longer
timid. Up the hill they went with a merry laugh and a shout. Once on top
of the hill, they lost their course again. After a time, they found a
fox, though, and that fox pointed straight down the hill. The children
bravely followed. At the foot of the hill, they came suddenly upon an
open space, and close by there was a great big fox marked upon a piece
of black paste-board and standing right over a bubbling spring of water.

“Uncle Hambright must have meant for us to stop here,” said one.

“Maybe, he meant for us to stop and get some water,” said another.

One or two of the fox-hunters stopped and drank some water. Then the
oldest one said,----

“Come on now, let’s look for another fox; I guess we are most through

About twenty yards away from the spring, the children came to another
open space that was well shaded. What was their delight and surprise to
find there stretched out before them on a large white table cloth, laid
on the bare ground, a sumptuous picnic-dinner. And in the middle of the
table there was a true-true stuffed fox with a large red apple in his
mouth. For a few moments the children stood around the table in
bewilderment. But they were not to be kept in suspense a great while.
Pretty soon, Uncle Hambright and mama and papa came out of the woods
near by, and such a laugh as went around that picnic-dinner was never
heard before or since!

At the close of the meal, the children all voted that that was the best
game that Uncle Ham had played during the day.


“Mr. Slocum, good morning, sir; I came around to ask you to lend me five

Mr. Slocum, Manager of the Harlem Steamboat Company, looked up from his
desk in surprise when he heard this abrupt announcement.

“What’s that?” he asked curtly.

“Lend me five dollars,” said the little boy who had first addressed him.

“Who are you?” demanded Mr. Slocum.

“I’m nobody,” said the boy,--“nobody, but I want you to lend me five

Mr. Slocum, who was generally said to be a hard man to deal with, was
surprised at the boy’s presumption, yet, nevertheless, he was secretly
pleased at the boy’s frank and open manner.

“Do you know what borrowing money means?” asked Mr. Slocum, rising and
looking down upon the diminutive figure standing before him. The boy was
barefooted, held his hat in his hand, and his hair was nicely combed.
Mr. Slocum continued: “Don’t you know when a person borrows money he is
supposed to pay it back?”

“Oh, yes,” said the boy; “I know that. You lend me the money, and I’ll
pay it back all right. I only want it for three months. I’ll pay it

[Illustration: “LEND ME FIVE DOLLARS!”]

There was something about the boy’s face and general deportment that won
Mr. Slocum’s favor. He ran his hand into his pocket, pulled out a
five-dollar bill and handed it to the boy.

“Thank you, sir,” said the boy, as he turned to go,--“thank you, sir;
I’ll pay it back.”

Three months later, the same little boy entered Mr. Slocum’s office.

“Here’s your five dollars, Mr. Slocum,” said the little boy. “I’m much
obliged to you, sir.”

“Who are you?” as Mr. Slocum, as he reached out and took the money.

“I’m nobody,” said the boy.

“Well, why do you bring me this money?”

“Because I owe it to you,” explained the little fellow.

The boy told Mr. Slocum of the loan made three months before, and made
Mr. Slocum recall the transaction. Mr. Slocum asked him to have a seat.

“Well, what did you do with that money?” asked Mr. Slocum.

“Well,” said the boy, “I was hard up when I called on you. Me and my ma
had been selling papers for a living up to that time, but somehow we had
got behind with our expenses. House rent was due, and we didn’t have
nothing to eat. I had to find a friend somewhere. So, after trying two
or three places where I was known and failing to get any help, I decided
to drop in here and see you. You know the result. Well, I paid my rent
for a week; rented a little stand for my ma to sell papers on the
corner, while I continued to hustle in the street. That five dollars you
lent me give me good luck, and I’ve been going right up ever since. Me
and ma are living in a better place now; we’ve got a plenty to eat; and
we’ve got a plenty of fine customers. I told you when I came here
before that I was nobody then, but I’m somebody now, Mr.
Slocum,--anyhow, I feel so--and I want to thank you again for the help
you gave me.”

The boy’s story pleased Mr. Slocum very much. It is needless to say that
he took an interest in that boy, and continued to befriend him.

This happened many years ago. Today Tommy Tolliver--that was the boy’s
name--is the Assistant General Manager of the Harlem Steamboat Company,
and a very well-to-do man. Mr. Slocum says that there is nobody in the
world like him. Tommy’s mother died some years ago, but she lived long
enough to see her little boy taken out of the streets, put to school,
and started on his career of usefulness.


The world is constantly looking for the man who knows the most, and it
pays little regard to those who are proficient in the usual degree in
the same things. One must excel, or, in other words, know more than his
associates in order to succeed notably. The world will bid high for you
if you know more than other men.

[Illustration: THE ROAD TO SUCCESS.]

So that boys and girls who are preparing themselves for the duties of
life should not aim simply at being as good as somebody else, but they
should aim at being the best that it is possible to be in any chosen
line of life or business. I have noticed in my short life-time that
there is a great tendency on the part of young people to cut short their
education. Being able to shine in the intellectual and social worlds
with the small attainments made in some college or normal school or
industrial school, the average young negro man is content to stop with a
diploma or certificate from one or another of these institutions. They
will never realize what injury they have done themselves by so doing
until it is too late. On the other hand, there is another large class of
young people that stop short even before they have finished the course
in even any one of the normal or industrial schools. They must go out to
work; they know enough to make a living; what’s the use of so much
education, anyhow? This is the way some of them talk. This is what some
of them believe. Boys and girls, no man or woman with such low ideals
will ever reach the topmost round of the ladder of fame. Such boys and
girls will always play a second-rate part in the great drama of life.
The boys and girls who are going to the front--the boys and girls who
are going to have the leading parts--are the boys and girls who are
willing to take time to prepare themselves. And preparation means hard
work; and not only hard work, but hard and long-continued work. A person
can learn a good deal in one year; a person can learn a good deal in two
years; but nobody can learn enough in one or two years, or in three or
four years, to make it at all likely that he will ever be sought by the
great world.

Aside from the rudimentary training, it ought to take at least ten years
to make a good doctor, or a good lawyer, or a good electrician, or a
good preacher. Four of these years ought to be spent in college; and
four in the professional school; and the other two ought to be spent in
picking up a practical or working knowledge of the calling--whatever it
may be. The young doctor obtains this practical knowledge in hospitals
and in practice among the poor. The electrician obtains it by entering
some large electrical industry or manufactory, in which a thoroughly
practical knowledge of mechanical engineering and electricity can be
secured. It is true that some men have become distinguished in these
callings without this long preparation of which I have spoken; yet it
is, also, true that they would have been better off--they would have
been more likely to have become eminent--if they had taken the longer
course. College is a little world which every one, other things being
equal, ought to enter and pass through before launching in the great


What would happen if everybody should begin tomorrow to keep all his
promises and fulfill all his engagements? I think it would make a new
world at once. There is great need that the attention of young people
should be called to the importance of keeping engagements. Much of the
confusion and annoyance and trouble of this world would be done away
with if people would learn to keep their promises. The oft-repeated
excuse, “I forgot,” is not reasonable. If the memory is in the habit of
playing tricks with you, then you ought to make notes of your
engagements, write them down in some way, so that you will not forget
them. Arnold of Rugby said: “Thoughtlessness is a crime,” and he was
right. The great Ruskin has also uttered strong words in condemnation
of thoughtlessness in youth. He said: “But what excuse can you find for
willfulness of thought at the very time when every crisis of future
fortune hangs on your decisions? A youth thoughtless! when the career of
all his days depends on the opportunity of a moment. A youth
thoughtless! when his every act is a foundation-stone of future conduct,
and every imagination a fountain of life or death. Be thoughtless in
any after years rather than now, though, indeed, there is only one place
where a man may be nobly thoughtless--his deathbed. No thinking should
ever be left to be done there.”


And, then, boys and girls should remember that promptness should always
accompany the fulfilling of an engagement, otherwise the engagement is
not really kept. A person’s time is a valuable possession, which should
be respected by all. Who has not been exasperated by some one with
apparent indifference keeping (?) an engagement a half or three-quarters
of an hour late! And often a whole train of troubles will follow in the
wake of tardiness. The punctual boy or girl in this life is the one who
advances most rapidly. The punctual boy or girl will make a punctual man
or woman. A promise-breaker, or one who is late in keeping his
appointments, cannot in the true sense of the term be considered a
first-class person.


Uncle Ned returned from his ’possum hunt about midnight, bringing with
him a fine, fat ’possum. He built a glowing fire, dressed the ’possum,
pared and split the sweet potatoes, and pretty soon he had the “’possum
an’ ’taters” in the oven. While the meal was cooking Uncle Ned amused
himself with his favorite old banjo. When the ’possum had been baked
brown and crisp he took it out of the oven and set it on the hearth to
give it time to cool. Mentally congratulating himself upon the glorious
repast he thought soon to enjoy, he sat silently for awhile in the old
armchair, but presently he was snugly wrapped in the arms of “tired
nature’s sweet restorer--balmy sleep.”

[Illustration: A MIDNIGHT MISHAP.]

It happened that two young fellows who were pretty well acquainted with
Uncle Ned’s habits had been stealthily watching about the house waiting
this particular chance. As soon as they were convinced that the old man
was safe in the arms of Morpheus, they crept into the house and
hurriedly helped themselves to Uncle Ned’s supper, including even the
coffee and bread. When they finished the hasty meal, by way of
attempting to cover up their tracks, they smeared Uncle Ned’s hands and
mouth with the ’possum gravy and then beat a retreat.

After a time Uncle Ned aroused from his peaceful slumber. It is needless
to say that he had dreamed about his supper. At once he dived down to
inspect the viands, when, lo and behold, the hearth was empty! Uncle Ned
steadied himself and studied awhile.

“Well,” said he finally, “I must ’a’ et dat ’possum; I must ’a’ et dat
’possum in my sleep!”

He looked at his hands. They were greasy. He smelt his hands. As he did
so he said:

“Dat smells like ’possum grease! I sho must ’a’ et dat ’possum.”

He discovered grease on his lips. Out went his tongue.

“Dat tas’es like ’possum grease,” he said. He got up. He looked about
the house. There was no sign of intruders. He rubbed his stomach. He
resumed his seat, and, giving up all for lost, he said:

“Well, ef I did eat dat ’possum, hit sets lightah on my appertite dan
any ’possum I evah et befo’.”

  [2] Published in Lippincott’s.


In 1893 the World’s Columbian Exposition, or World’s Fair, was held in
Chicago in commemoration of the four hundredth anniversary of the
discovery of America. A negro man, the Hon. Frederick Douglass,
attended that exposition and delivered an address on negro day. Speaking
of this great man’s visit the Advance, one of Chicago’s great religious
papers, said:

“It was fine to see at the Congress on Africa the tall form and
magnificent head of the grand old man, Frederick Douglass, now
seventy-five years of age, perfectly erect, kindly, majestic, the
‘ancient fires of inspiration welling up through all his being yet’;
affable to all; finding it still to be as natural to be eloquent as to
speak at all; sympathetic to the core with the people of his own race,
yet none the less loyal to the common interests of all the people of his
country; neither blind to the obstacles in their path and the cruel
social injustice and meanness to which they are often exposed, nor, on
the other hand, unmindful of the friends they have in the South as also
in the North, or above all to the over-shining care and purpose of God
Himself, with the ‘far-off divine intent’ that so clearly takes in the
future of both the American and African continents. Few Americans have
had a more conspicuously providential mission than Frederick Douglass.
And hardly anything in this remarkable congress was more eloquent or
more convincing than his personal presence.”

Frederick Douglass was born a slave, and his life as a slave was one of
peculiar hardship. Of it he himself says in his autobiography:

“I suffered little from any punishment I received, except from hunger
and cold. I could get enough neither of food or clothing, but suffered
more from cold than hunger. In the heat of summer or the cold of winter
alike, I was kept almost in a state of nudity--no shoes, jackets,
trousers, or stockings--nothing but a coarse tow linen shirt reaching to
the knee. That I wore night and day. In the day time I could protect
myself by keeping on the sunny side of the house, and in bad weather in
the corner of the kitchen chimney. The great difficulty was to keep warm
at night. I had no bed. The pigs in the pen had leaves, and the horses
in the stable had straw, but the children had nothing. In very cold
weather I sometimes got down the bag in which corn was carried to the
mill and got into that. My feet have been so cracked by frost that the
pen with which I am writing might have been laid in the gashes.” With
regard to his food he said that he often disputed with the dogs over the
crumbs that fell from his master’s table.

Now this man, born so lowly and surrounded by such circumstances, turned
out to be in the course of time by hard work and self-application one of
the most influential American citizens and one of the greatest orators
that this country has ever known. Among other high offices of trust and
responsibility, he was once marshal of the District of Columbia,
recorder of deeds of the District of Columbia, and United States
minister to Hayti.

He died February 20th, 1895, at his home in Anacostia, D. C., at the age
of seventy-seven years. A monument to his memory has been erected in
Rochester, N. Y., where he once lived.

What Frederick Douglass made of himself is possible for any American boy
with grit. Every boy and girl in America should read the life of this
pre-eminent negro and strive to emulate his virtues. His memory is
worthy to be honored to the last day of time.


Domestic animals--like horses, cats and dogs--seem to be almost as
dependent upon kind treatment and affection as human beings. Horses and
dogs especially are the most keenly intelligent of our dumb friends, and
are alike sensitive to cruelty in any form. They are influenced to an
equal degree by kind and affectionate treatment.

If there is any form of cruelty that is more reprehensible than another,
it is abuse of a faithful horse who has given his whole life to the
service of the owner. When a horse is pulling a heavy load with all his
might, doing the best he can to move under it, to strike him, spur him,
or swear at him is simply barbarous. To kick a dog around, to tie tin
cans to his tail, or strike him with sticks, just for the fun of
hearing him yelp or seeing him run, is equally barbarous. No high-minded
man, no high-minded boy or girl, would do such a thing. We should never
forget how helpless, in a large sense, dumb animals are--and how
absolutely dependent upon the humanity and kindness of their owners.
They are really the slaves of man, having no language by which to
express their feelings or needs.

[Illustration: OUR DUMB ANIMALS.]

The poet Cowper said:

  “I would not enter on my list of friends,
  Though graced with polished manners and fine sense,
  Yet wanting sensibility, the man
  Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm.”

Every boy and girl should be willing to pledge himself to be kind to all
harmless living creatures, and every boy and girl should strive to
protect such creatures from cruel usage on the part of others. It is
noble, boys and girls, for us to speak for those that cannot speak for
themselves, and it is noble, also, for us to protect those that cannot
protect themselves.


The boy marched straight up to the counter.

“Well, my little man,” said the merchant, “what can I do for you?”

“If you please,” said the boy, “I came in to see if you wouldn’t let me
work for you.”

The boy was not yet ten years old, and he was small for his age. But
there was something in his speech or manner that held the man’s

“Do some work for me, eh?” said the man. “What kind of work could you
do? You can hardly look over the counter.”

“Oh, yes; I can,” said the little fellow, as he stood on tiptoe and
peeped over the counter.

Out of sheer curiosity the merchant came from behind the counter, so as
to get a good look at the boy.

“Oh,” he said, “I see you’ve got copper taps on your shoes; I suppose
your mother couldn’t keep you in shoes if they didn’t have taps on

“She can’t keep me in shoes anyway, sir,” and the little boy’s voice

“How old are you?” asked the merchant.

“I’m older than I look; folks say that I’m small for my age.”

“Well, what is your age?”

“I’m going on ten,” said Davie, with a look of great importance. “You
see,” he continued, “my mother hasn’t anybody but me, and this morning I
saw her crying because she could not find five cents in her pocketbook,
and she thinks she must have lost it--and it was--the--last cent--that
she had--in the world; and--I--have--not--had--any--breakfast, sir.” The
voice again hesitated, and tears came into the little boy’s eyes.

“Oh, don’t cry, my little man; I guess I can help you to a breakfast.
Here, take this quarter!” He pulled a quarter from his vest pocket and
handed it to the boy. The boy shook his head.

“Mother wouldn’t let me beg,” was his simple answer.

“Humph!” said the merchant. “Where is your father?”

“We never heard of him, sir, after he went away. He was lost in the
steamer City of New York.”

“That’s too bad. But you’re a plucky little fellow, anyhow. Let me see,”
and he looked straight down into the boy’s eyes, and the boy looked
straight up at him. Turning to the head man, after awhile, the merchant

“Palmer, is cash boy No. 5 still sick?”

“Dead, sir; died last night,” was the reply.

“I’m sorry; but here’s a boy you might use. Put him down in No. 5’s
place. We’ll try him for awhile, anyhow. What’s is your name, my little
man?” he asked, turning again to the boy.


“Davie Thomas.”

“Well, Davie, we’ll give you three dollars a week to start with; you
come tomorrow morning and I’ll tell you what to do. Here’s a dollar of
your wages in advance. I’ll take it out of your first week’s pay. Do you

“Yes, sir; I understand, and I thank you, too. I’ll be back in the

Davie shot out of the store, and lost no time in getting home. The old
creaky steps in the old ram-shackle house fairly sang with delight as
the weight of the little boy hurried up them.

“I’ve got it, mother;” exclaimed Davie. “I’m a cash boy! The man’s going
to give me three dollars a week, and he says I’ve got pluck, too; and
here’s a dollar to get some breakfast with, and don’t you cry any more,
for I’m going to be the man of this house now.”

At first the mother was dumfounded; then she looked confused; and then
she looked--well, it passes my power to tell how she did look as she
took Davie in her arms and hugged him and kissed him, the tears
streaming down her cheeks. But they were tears of joy and thankfulness!


“Henry, I asked you to remain after school a few minutes because I
wanted you to help me re-arrange the desks and furniture, but I had
another reason for asking you to remain, and I think it is more
important than the one I have just stated.”

The desks had all been arranged according to the teacher’s notion, and
Henry Holt had gathered up his books to go home. It was then that his
teacher, Miss Ada Johnson, addressed him.

“Won’t you sit down here a minute, David?” she continued. “I wish to
speak to you a minute or two.”

[Illustration: A HEART-TO-HEART TALK.]

David quietly took a seat. He was one of the largest boys in school, and
had been giving an unusual amount of trouble during the day. In fact he
had been a source of annoyance ever since the new teacher had taken

“David,” the teacher went on, “I wonder if you realize how hard you have
made it for me in school today? Is there any reason why we cannot be
friends and work together? And I wish to be a friend to you, if you will
let me. You could help me so much and you could help your schoolmates so
much if you only would. I want to ask you if you think your conduct has
been manly to-day? Has it been kind?”

David said nothing, but hung his head.

“I heard before I came here that you were an unruly boy. People say that
you will neither study nor work, and some people say that you are a very
mean boy. Some of these things may be true, David, I am sorry to say,
but I want to tell you that you are the only hope of a widowed mother,
and I want to say, also, that I think that you are breaking her heart.”
The teacher’s voice faltered at the last words.

“I know that your father,” the low voice went on, “was a brave and noble
man; and when I hear people say, ‘It is a good thing that Henry Oliver
died before he knew what his son was coming to,’ I think what a pity it
is that they cannot say, ‘How sad it is that Henry Oliver died before he
could know what a fine, manly fellow his son would be, and what a stay
and comfort to his mother’.”

The boy’s head dropped to the desk in front of him, and he began to sob.
The teacher went over to him and said gently:

“You can be all this. It is in your power to be all that your father
would have you, all that your mother would have you. Will you not turn
over a new leaf now, not only in your behavior and work in school, but
in your whole life as well?”

David raised his head.

“I am with you--I’ll do it, teacher,” he replied, a new resolve shining
in his face. All that day he did some of the most serious thinking of
his life. And he kept his promise.

The years have been many since then. The little teacher has long since
passed to her rest, but David Oliver is a living monument to the power
of a few searching words, the potency of a little personal interest and
kindliness manifested at a critical time.


Uncle Mose, an old-time colored man, once said in a company of people
who were talking about ghosts that he wasn’t afraid of any ghost that
ever walked the earth.

“No, sah; not me,” he said; “I’se got my fuss time to be skeered uv
anyt’ing dat’s dead.”

Whereupon Noah Johnson told Uncle Mose that he would bet him a load of
watermelons that he couldn’t spend one night in the “Widder Smith’s
house.” Now, the Widow Smith’s house was said to be haunted, or, in
other words, it was filled with ghosts.

“Des name de night,” said Uncle Mose. “I’ll stay dar; no ha’nts won’t
bodder wid me. No, sah; no ha’nts won’t bodder wid me, an’ yo’
watermillions is des ez good ez gone already!”


The details were arranged; judges were appointed; and Uncle Mose was to
stay in the haunted house that very night. He got him some pine-knots to
keep a good blaze in the old-fashioned fireplace, carried along an extra
plug of tobacco, secured a large drygoods box to be used for a chair,
and then he set out for the house.

He made a blaze and seated himself on the pine box. For a time he sung a
number of old plantation songs for his own amusement, as well as to
keep him company. About midnight, feeling somewhat drowsy, Uncle Mose
got up, took a light and went on a tour of inspection. He examined every
room in the house. His search revealed nothing unusual. He wound up his
search chuckling to himself:

“I sho is makin’ dis load uv watermillions easy. Noah Johnsing didn’t
know who he’s foolin’ wid. I’m a man myse’f; I ain’t afeared uv
nothin’--I ain’t!”

Down he sat on the box, and pretty soon he was dozing. It was not very
long before he suddenly awoke. He was at once seized with strange and
sudden fear. He was too frightened to move. Although he did not look
around, he was conscious that there was another presence in the room.
His hair stood on ends. He felt a cold chill run up and down his back.
By that time he knew that the object in the room, whatever it was, was
moving towards him. Still he did not move, because he could not. The
ghost (for that was what all the people said it was) stood over Uncle
Mose for a little while, and then quietly sat down on the box beside
him. Uncle Mose looked straight into the fireplace, but his heart was
beating like a runaway horse. The silence in the room at that moment was
like unto the silence of death. Everything was still and solemn. Uncle
Mose could almost hear his own heart beating. The ghost finally broke
the silence by saying, with a loud sigh:

“Huh! Huh! There don’t seem to be but two of us here tonight!”

It was then that Uncle Mose looked around for the first time. As he did
so he exclaimed:

“Yas; an’ f’um dis out dah won’t be but one!” And with that he jumped
through the window, taking a part of the sash with him.

The judges had been waiting in the open air near the house, so as to
watch the proceedings. They called to the fleeing Uncle Mose, as he
passed them, and ordered him to stop. They said that they were all there
and would protect him. But Uncle Mose, as he kept on running, hallooed

“I’ll see y’all later!”

He ran at the top of his speed for more than a mile, for he was well
nigh scared to death. By-and-by, from sheer exhaustion, he was compelled
to stop for a little rest. He was wet with perspiration from head to
foot, and his clothes were as limp as a wet dishrag. But the poor old
man had no sooner seated himself on a stone by the roadside than up
jumps the ghost and sits down beside him once more.

“Huh!” said the ghost. “You seem to have made pretty good time tonight.”

“Yas,” said Uncle Mose; “but what I hase done ain’t nothin’ to what I’se
gwinter do!” And up he jumped and lit out once more.

He had not gone far on his second trip before an old rabbit ran out of
the bushes and took out down the road ahead of him. Uncle Mose hallooed
at the rabbit and said:

“Git out uv de way, rabbit, an’ let somebody run what kin run!”

On and on the poor old man, almost scared to death, ran and ran. Perhaps
he would have been running until now but for a very unfortunate
accident. About five miles from the Widow Smith’s house he came in
contact with the limb of a weeping willow tree that hung across the
road. The poor old fellow, already tired out, was knocked speechless and
senseless. Toward the break of day the judges, who had followed him,
found him lying on the ground doubled up near the tree. Dim
consciousness was slowly returning when they picked him up. They rubbed
him, and walked him around for a little while, and soon he was able to
move himself.

The first thing Uncle Mose said was:

“Tell Noah not to min’ ’bout dem watermillions. I stayed in dat house
des ez long ez I could keep my conscience quiet. My ole mammy allus tole
me dat hit wuz a sin an’ a shame to bet, an’ now I b’lieves hit!”

And to this day, boys and girls, if you want to see a really mad man,
you just ask Uncle Mose if he ever saw a ghost.



Everybody loves the cheerful boy or girl, the cheerful man or woman; and
everybody ought to love such people. I wish all the boys and girls in
America would organize one grand SUNSHINE SOCIETY, whose chief object
should be the promotion of good feeling, good cheer, peace and happiness
among all the people everywhere. But, first, a boy or girl, man or
woman, must have sunshine in their own souls before they can communicate
sunshine to others. And, boys and girls, it would greatly assist us in
securing sunshine in our souls if we looked at our mercies with both
eyes, as I might say, and at our troubles and trials with only one eye.
What we enjoy in this world is always a good deal more than that which
we do not enjoy; but we do not magnify our blessings sufficiently. We do
not make as much of them as we ought. We do not rejoice because of them
as we ought. We ought to keep daily a record of God’s goodness and
kindness and patience and love. The Lord’s mercies are new every morning
and fresh every evening; but we do not realize that they are so, because
we do not stop to count them up; we do not think about them. If we
stopped to weigh the matter I think we should find more in our lives to
be happy about than to be sorry about. Our good fortunes always
outweigh our misfortunes; and we should find it so if we only acquired
the habit of remembering God’s goodness to us as well as the
disappointments and sorrows and afflictions which are for us all.

Then we should study contentment. We should study to be content. We must
cultivate the habit of being satisfied with what we have at present, and
we should not worry about those things which we do not possess. Worry
because of things they did not possess has made countless thousands
mourn. Let us enjoy what we have. Let us make the most of what we have.
And let us not worry about things which we do not possess. No matter how
miserable our own lot may be, there is always some one whose lot is more
miserable still. Worry kills more people than work. In fact worry unfits
a man for work. The man who has learned the philosophy of being content
in whatsoever state he is is the man who is and will be happy. One of
the things in this world that pays a hundred-fold is contentment, and
there is nothing that casts so much blight and mildew upon life’s
fairest flowers as discontent.

Again, it would help us to keep cheerful if we kept steadily engaged in
some work of usefulness. Let us go about doing good. Let us go about
seeking opportunities of doing good. Doing good makes the heart healthy,
and heart-health makes sunshine, happiness and good cheer.

A little thought will convince you, boys and girls, that your own
happiness in this world depends very largely on the way other people
bear themselves toward you. The looks and tones at your breakfast table,
the conduct of your playmates, the faithful or unreliable people that
you deal with, what people say to you on the street, the letters you
get, the friends or foes you meet--these things make up very much of the
pleasure or misery of your day. Turn the thought around, and remember
that just so much are you adding to the pleasure or misery of other
people’s days. And this is the half of the matter that you can control.
Whether any particular day shall bring to you more of happiness or of
suffering is largely beyond your power to determine. Whether each day of
your life shall give happiness or suffering to others rests with
yourself. And there is where the test of character comes. We must be
continually sacrificing our wills to the wills of others, bearing
without notice sights and sounds that annoy us, setting about this or
that task when we would rather be doing something else, persevering in
it often when we are very tired of it, keeping company for duty’s sake
when it would be a great joy to us to be by ourselves; and then there
are all the trifling and outward accidents of life, bodily pain and
weakness, it may be, long continued, losing what we value, missing what
we desire, deceit, ingratitude and treachery where we least expected
them; folly, rashness and willfulness in ourselves. All these little
worries which we meet each day may lie as stumbling blocks across our
way, or we may make of them, if we choose, stepping stones of grace.

I want all the little boys and girls who read this book to be
joy-makers, to be burden-bearers, to be among those who shall assist in
filling the whole world with good cheer. It is our duty to cheer and
comfort others; it is our duty to make the world not only better but
happier--happier because better--for our having lived in it. To all the
other beatitudes might well be added this one: Blessed are the cheerful
people, for they shall inherit the earth.


Boys and girls, I want to repeat to you now some words which were
delivered long ago by the Hon. Schuyler Colfax, a man who was once the
vice-president of the United States. These words are wholesome, and
should be read and considered by parents and school teachers and by
children themselves all over our land:

“Above all things, teach children what their life is. It is not
breathing, moving, playing, sleeping, simply. Life is a battle. All
thoughtful people see it so. A battle between good and evil from
childhood. Good influences, drawing us up toward the divine; bad
influences, drawing us down to the brute. Midway we stand, between the
divine and the brute. How to cultivate the good side of the nature is
the greatest lesson of life to teach. Teach children that they lead
these two lives: the life without and the life within; and that the
inside must be pure in the sight of God as well as the outside in the
sight of men.

“There are five means of learning. These are: Observation, reading,
conversation, memory, reflection.

“Educators sometimes, in their anxiety to secure a wide range of
studies, do not sufficiently impress upon their scholars the value of
memory. Now, our memory is one of the most valuable gifts God has
bestowed upon us, and one of the most mysterious. Take a tumbler and
pour water into it; by-and-by you can pour no more: it is full. It is
not so with the mind. You cannot fill it full of knowledge in a whole
lifetime. Pour in all you please, and it still thirsts for more.

“Remember this:

“Knowledge is not what you learn, but what you remember.

“It is not what you eat, but what you digest, that makes you grow.

“It is not the money you handle, but that you keep, that makes you rich.

“It is not what you study, but what you remember and reflect upon, that
makes you learned.

“One more suggestion:

“Above all things else, strive to fit the children in your charge to be
useful men and women; men and women you may be proud of in after-life.
While they are young teach them that far above physical courage, which
will lead them to face the cannon’s mouth; above wealth, which would
give them farms and houses and bank stocks and gold; is moral
courage--that courage by which they will stand fearlessly, frankly,
firmly for the right. Every man or woman who dares to stand for the
right when evil has its legions, is the true moral victor in this life
and in the land beyond the stars.”

These brave and true words were spoken by Mr. Colfax long years ago.
They were true then; they are no less true now. Every boy in America
should treasure them in his heart. Every girl in America should commit
them to memory and make them the rule of her life. Mothers and fathers,
school teachers and preachers, and all who have the care of the young in
any way would do well to study these wise counsels and reflect upon them
and strive to impress upon those for whom they are laboring.

If you would win the victory in the battle of life, my young friends,
you must watch the little things. It is said that there is a barn upon
the Alleghany Mountains so built that the rain which falls upon it
separates in such a manner that that which falls upon one side of the
roof runs into a little stream that flows into the Susquehanna and
thence into Chesapeake Bay and on into the Atlantic Ocean; that which
falls upon the other side is carried into the Alleghany River, thence
into the Ohio, and onward to the Gulf of Mexico. The point where the
waters divide is very small, but how different the course of these
waters! So it is with people, young or old. A very little thing changes
the channel of their lives. Much will depend upon the kinds of tempers
you have, boys and girls. If you are sour and cross and crabbed, no one
will love you. If you are kind and cheerful, you will have friends
wherever you go. Much will depend upon the way in which you improve your
school days; upon the kind of companions you have; and upon the kind of
habits you form. If you would win a great victory in fighting the battle
of life you must look well to the little things.



  An idle boy one idle day
  Played with a gun in an idle way:--
  And now the grasses idly wave
  Above his idle little grave.


A nicely dressed young man, fifteen or sixteen years old, who had just
finished his course in the high school, stepped into the office of the
president of the Smutville Short Line Railroad.

“Well,” said the president, looking up from a mass of correspondence,
“what can I do for you, sir?”

“I have just finished my course in the high school,” the young man began
nervously, “and I thought that I might be able to secure a desirable
position with your company. I came in to talk with you about it.”

The president asked the young man to have a seat.

“So,” said the president, “you want a desirable place, eh?”

“I do, sir,” said the young man, his heart beating high with hope.

“A place,” continued the president, “that would pay you something like a
hundred dollars a month?”

“Something like that,” said the young man eagerly.

“I guess you would like it very well, too, if I could arrange it so that
you could report for work at nine o’clock in the mornings and get off
every afternoon at three or four o’clock. In other words, you want
something easy. I can see by looking at you that you are not accustomed
to hard work, and you could not fill a place that required you to report
at six o’clock every morning and work until six every afternoon. Do I
size you up correctly?”

“I think so, sir,” was the reply.

“In plain English then, you are looking for a soft place with the Short

“I am, sir.”

“Well, sir,” said the president, smiling for the first time, “I regret
to inform you that there is only one such place on our railroad. I
occupy that place myself, and I am not thinking of resigning.”

The young man’s face flushed.


The president continued: “I hope you will not think that it is going
beyond what is right and proper for me to say, but I must tell you,
young man, that you have started out in life with the wrong notion. No
brave and strong young man is going about looking for an easy place. The
brave and true man asks only for work. And the men who are occupying
what you call the easy places in this life today are the men who have
climbed into them by hard work. You are very much mistaken if you think
that they have stepped into them from the high school. In fact, and
you’ll find it out soon enough for yourself, there are really no soft or
easy places in this world, and the man who goes about seeking such
places stamps himself at once as a failure. Nobody will ever employ such
a boy, and such a boy would be no good if he were employed. Let me, as a
friend, advise you, young man, that the next place you go to to apply
for a job, you ask for a chance to begin at the bottom. If it happens to
be a railroad, ask to be given a chance to do anything--firing an
engine, or cleaning cars, or laboring in the roundhouse. Be willing to
begin low down in the business, and, if you’re made out of the right
stuff, you will fight your way to the front. I started in with the Short
Line as a day laborer myself, and if I had not done so I would not be at
its head today. You advertise your own folly when you go and ask a
sensible business man to put you at the start at the head of something.
You must begin at the bottom and work up to the top. That is the rule
everywhere, and you will not, I am sure, prove an exception to it.”

Let us hope, boys and girls, that this young man left the president’s
office a wiser young man. Be sure not to follow his example. Don’t go
around hunting for easy places.


Father and son, making the rounds of the Zoological gardens, paused
before a cage containing a beautiful zebra.

“Oh, papa,” exclaimed the little boy, “see that donkey with a baseball
sweater on!”


One cold winter night, about midnight, my good wife called to me,

“Dan! Dan! Get up! Get up!”

“What’s the matter?” I asked, with much alarm.

“Somebody’s in the dining-room; I heard them rattling the dishes just a
minute ago.”

“I don’t hear anything, wife,” I said slowly.

“There’s somebody in these sure; I heard them myself. Do get up, Dan,
before they take everything we’ve got.”

“I haven’t got a gun or any kind of weapon,” I said, still fighting for

“Well, get up and make a noise--walk around heavy--that’s frighten ’em
and make ’em leave.”

I got up quietly, turned up the lamp, and looked about me with a sigh.

“Be quick,” said my wife.

“In a minute,” said I.

I tipped around to the wall on the side of the bed, and took down an old
iron sword, which had done duty in the Mexican war, and which we had
preserved as an heirloom.

“Hurry, hurry, Dan!” said my wife.

“All right,” I said with meekness.

I took the sword in one hand and the lamp in the other, and moved gently
toward the door, which opened from our bed-room into the dining-room.

Pausing at the door, I said,----

“Hallo! Hallo, in there!”

The response came from my wife in bed.

“Open the door, Dan; open the door!”

Humbly I placed the lamp on the floor close by the door, caught a tight
grip on my old war-piece, and then quickly shoved the door wide open. I
intended, of course, after getting my bearings, to pick up the lamp and
enter the dining-room on a tour of inspection. But, I assure you, there
was no time for any such careful procedure. As soon as the door was
opened and the light went streaming into the dining-room, something fell
to the floor with a terrible thud, and quicker than it takes to tell it
a great big black something, that looked to me like a buffalo or
elephant, came bounding toward me. It was all so sudden that it
surprised me, and I fell back trembling. Over went the lamp. It broke.
Out came the oil. It took fire, and pretty soon the Cambrequin close by
took fire. Down I snatched it. I reached for the first thing handy, and
tried to smother the fire on the floor. In doing so, I stepped on a
piece of glass and cut my foot. I burnt my hands terribly. My night
shirt caught on fire. I ran to the bed and sat down in order to quench
the blaze. This shows I still had some presence of mind left, although,
as a matter of fact, this new extinguishing process scorched my legs

[Illustration: HUNTING THE BURGLAR.]

When all was quiet again, and I lit another lamp in order to take an
inventory, my bedroom was a sight to behold! I found that in the
struggle, my old army sword had been plunged amidship into the handsome
mirror of our dresser, and had also made havoc of a reproduction of
Millets’ Angelus. I discovered, also, that I had used my brand-new $50
overcoat to extinguish the fire, and that many of the handsome photos of
our friends that stood on the mantle had been ruined. Altogether that
one night’s experience cost me in the neighborhood of $100, not to
mention my own personal injuries. It was a terrible night, I tell you.
And far off in one corner, I saw, crouching in abject fear, the cause of
all my troubles--the burly black burglar. And what do you think it was?
It was nothing in the world but an old black Tom Cat, who had been a
member of our family for many years!


Surely all young girls ought to know how to sew, and, not only sew, but
all girls, I think, ought to love the purely feminine occupation of
sewing. Since I am sure that many of the little girls who will read this
book know how to sew, I am going to tell you about some little sewing
that my wife did.

In 1913 the Ladies’ Home Journal, of Philadelphia, offered a prize of
fifty dollars for the best way to make pin-money at home. You know,
girls, that pin-money means pocket change or spending money. Many
hundreds of women all over the world sent in suggestions to the Ladies’
Home Journal, each one hoping, I am sure, that her suggestion would win
first prize. The following letter sent to my wife will tell you just how
her suggestion was received:


  “Philadelphia. February 5, 1913.

  “Dear Madam:

  “It gives me much pleasure to tell you that among the hundreds of
  letters received in response to the offer made in our January magazine
  in connection with The Editor’s Want-Box, Mr. Bok has chosen your
  offering as the one entitled to the first prize of fifty dollars. He
  congratulates you upon your success and thanks you for the interest
  you have shown.

  “Our Treasurer will send you a check within a week.

  Very truly yours,
  “Wm. V. Alexander,
  “Managing Editor.

  “Mrs. Ella Floyd.”

The check came all right, girls, and my wife thought, as she said to me,
that in winning the prize she had found a new way to make
pin-money--that is, by telling others how to make pin-money at home.

Two hundred of the little articles were afterwards published from time
to time in The Ladies’ Home Journal. The first article of the series
appeared in the magazine for January, 1914, and my wife’s little story,
which won first money, was at the head of the list. I am going to give
here the whole of the little article, as published in The Ladies’ Home
Journal. Of course, I am proud that she won the prize, and I hope other
young ladies by-and-by may be the happy winners in such contests. And
here is the article:

“When one’s pin-money is all gone but twenty-five cents the question
comes as to the way to replenish it. One day when I found that I had
only that amount I invested it as follows:

  1 yard of lawn     .10
  1 yard of lace     .10
  1 spool of cotton  .05

“The same day I made three baby caps as daintily as I could with these
materials. The next day I sold them for twenty-five cents each, and then
I had seventy-five cents. I then bought

  1  yard of lawn       .15
  2½ yards of lace      .25
  2  yards of ribbon    .25
  2  tiny buckles       .05
  1  spool of cotton    .05

“With these materials I made two baby caps, somewhat larger than the
first ones, and trimmed more prettily. I found no trouble in selling
them for $1.50. Straightway I invested the sum in lawn, lace, ribbon,
etc., and as I had done so well with the caps I thought I would try my
hand on little bonnets. I made two. A friend offered me $5 for them
before they were finished. I accepted her offer and from that day to
this I have never been troubled about pin-money.


“In four weeks’ time I made and sold twenty caps and eleven bonnets. The
material for the caps cost me $2.50--twelve and a half cents for each. I
sold them for twenty-five cents each. The material for the bonnets cost
me $8.25, or seventy-five cents each. I sold them for $2.50 each. So I
netted $21.75 for my work. The time which I devoted to this enterprise
was that which ordinarily I would have used in calling or in running up
bills for my husband to pay.

“Since the first four weeks of which I have spoken in detail I have made
more expensive caps and bonnets for babies from six months to about
three years old. The last one I made was of silk, beautifully trimmed,
tucked and hemstitched. I sold it for $6, making a clear profit of $3.
My husband says I’ll soon be in position to organize a trust.”



If there is one idea for which more than any other the public school
system should stand, it is the idea of self-help. Self-help is the best
kind of help in the world, and one cannot learn this lesson too early in
life. Even little children--three, four, five, six and eight years
old--should be taught to work. Any little child is just as capable of
doing the little things in work as he is in play. Why should not the
little girl be taught to trim and wash the dress of her doll? Why should
not the little children be taught to sweep up the dirt that they have
scattered in play? Why should they not be taught to remove the dishes
from the table, brush up the crumbs, set back the chairs, pick up chips,
put the kindling wood in its place, bring the potatoes in from the
garden, help to pick over the berries, and so forth? We might argue this
question from now until doom’s day, and nobody, I think, would be able
to give any good reason why children should not be taught to do the
little things. Little children who are accustomed to having everything
done for them by others are very soon beset with the rust of laziness
and the canker of pride. Whereas, on the other hand, if children are
taught to help themselves as soon as and as much as they are able, it
will tend to improve their faculties, and will, at the same time, have a
good influence upon their dispositions.

Childhood and youth are periods of life which materially influence all
of its following periods, and whether the earlier years of one’s life be
passed in idleness and indolence, or in well-directed industry, is a
point on which greatly depends the worth or the worthlessness of human
character. Where is the man who guides his affairs with discretion, or
the woman that looketh well to the ways of her household, and yet was
not in some measure imbued with industrious and provident habits in
early life? On the other hand, who that has been treated until the age
of fifteen or twenty like a helpless infant, and had every want supplied
without being put to the necessity of either mental or bodily exertion,
was ever good for anything afterwards?


The tendency of the age is by far too much in the direction of keeping
our young boys solely for the purpose of loafing about the streets, or
standing around the soda fountains on Sunday--and our young girls for
parties, social entertainments, picnics, excursions and the like. So
that by the time our boys and girls reach manhood and womanhood, they
despise honest labor and are afraid to engage in real hard work. A young
woman may know how to read and write--may understand grammar, history,
and geography--may sing sweetly and play the piano well; but, whatever
else she may know or may not know, if she does not know how to bake a
hoe-cake of bread, make her little brother or sister a pair of pants or
a plain dress, she is only half educated. In fact, every young woman
should not only know how to perform every duty connected with a
household, but every young woman should take some part in household
work. No girl need tell me that she really loves her mother if she is
willing to leave to her mother the work of washing the dishes, sweeping
and scouring the floors, caring for the little children, doing the
Monday washings, the house cleaning, and the like, while she devotes
herself to pleasure, novel reading, social calling, butterfly parties,
or playing rag-time music or singing rag-time songs.

The home and the public school are the two great agencies which are
jointly engaged, or which should be jointly engaged, in teaching
children to help themselves. If children are taught, as boys and girls,
to think for themselves, speak for themselves and act for themselves,
when they are old they will not forget the precious lesson, and will be
less likely to become burdens on the community. The highest ambition of
every American man and woman should be to be of some useful service to
the world; and the first step will be taken toward this noble end when
we have thoroughly learned the value and importance of the lesson of
self-help. First, learn to help yourself, and then you will be able to
see more clearly how to help others.


It is true, boys and girls, that it is what you hit, not what you aim
at, that counts; but, nevertheless, it is a very important thing to take
the right aim. The man who aims deliberately at the center of the target
stands a better chance, a hundred to one, than the man who shoots
without taking aim. So, in life, that boy or girl who has a purpose--who
is aiming at something--will be more successful than those boys and
girls who have no plans and who aim at nothing.

[Illustration: AIMING AT SOMETHING.]

It is not sufficient, in the moral world, to aim at something, but every
boy and girl should aim at the best things. The best and highest things
in this world are the unseen things, the eternal things, the things that
will last forever. Money is a good thing, but there is something higher
than money. A high position in the business or professional or political
world is a good thing, but there is something higher and better than
office and position. Character is the grandest, the highest and best
thing in this world. We include in this one little word “character” a
world of things. Honor, uprightness, speaking the truth, dealing fairly
with people, being willing to help the lowly and unfortunate, paying
your debts promptly, these things, and many other things like them, are
included in the one word “character.” And these are the things that are
worth while in this world. These are the things that every boy and girl
should aim at. It may not be possible for every boy and girl to become a
millionaire; it may not be possible for every boy and girl to fill high
offices in this world, or succeed in large business enterprises; but
one thing is certain: every boy can be a good and true boy, every girl
can be a noble and beautiful girl. Beautiful as to conduct, as to words
and deeds, I mean. Good boys are the fathers of good men. Pure girls are
the mothers of pure women. For, what, after all, is a boy? And what is a
girl? What is a man? What is a woman? I will tell you. A boy is a little
man--that’s all; and a man is a grown-up boy. A girl is a little
woman--that’s all; and a woman is a grown-up girl.

It is important, then, that boys and girls should aim at the right
things, the good, the true and noble things early in life. What boys and
girls aim at, in nine cases out of ten, they will reach as men and
women. And to help you in taking the proper aim early in life, I am
going to give you something to aim at. Let every boy and girl make this
little motto his rule of life:

  Know something--know it well;
  Do something--do it well;--
      And be Somebody!


Will Reynolds was “the black sheep” of the Reynolds family. He knew it
and felt it, because he had been frequently slighted and treated with
contempt by his relatives. The only person who never lost faith in him
was his mother. She always felt that there was something good in her
wayward son, and often said that it would show itself some day. But
Will’s mother died in the early stages of his backslidings. Will’s
father married the second time, and the boy, finding it impossible to
get along with his stepmother, left home. He went from bad to worse.
Being arrested on the charge of drunkenness and vagrancy, he sent to his
two brothers, who were prosperous brokers in D. St., asking them to pay
his fine. Word came back that they would not interfere in his behalf.
His brothers sent word that he had brought the trouble upon himself and
he must get out of it the best way he could. Will was sent to the Work
House for six months. And nobody’s hand was raised to help him.

While he was serving his time, his only sister, a young woman not yet
grown, died. He knew nothing of it until about a month after it
occurred, and then he read the account in an old newspaper which he had
borrowed from a fellow prisoner. The news of his sister’s death deeply
affected him. His sentence was shortened by one month on account of his
good behaviour. The first thing he did, on coming to the city, was to
visit the family lot in Myrtle Hill Cemetery. He carried with him some
wild flowers and green leaves, being too poor to purchase a floral
offering from the dealers in such things. With uncovered head, he knelt
and placed these tokens of respect on the graves of his mother and
sister. This done, he stood in silence for a moment, and then wept like
a little child. While riveted to the spot, he made a solemn vow that he
would quit the old life and make a man of himself. “It’s in me,” he said
to himself, “and I’m going to prove it.”


Slowly he turned away from the sacred place. He went directly to the
offices of his brothers. He had been furnished with a new suit of
clothes, according to custom, upon leaving prison, and so made quite a
decent appearance. He found his oldest brother, John B. Reynolds, seated
at a desk in the front office. He entered at once and said,--

“Well, John, I suppose sister is dead?”

“How dare you,” exclaimed John, rising to his feet,--“how dare you to
speak of Annie as your sister, you jailbird, you miserable convict! Get
out of here this minute! Leave this room at once, and never set foot in
it again!”

There was fire in the man’s eye as he spoke. Will attempted to speak,
but was not permitted. With tears streaming down his cheeks, he left the
room. He had gone to tell of his new determination and ask for another
chance, and this was the reception which he met. On his way down the
steps, he came face to face with his other brother, Thomas Reynolds.
Thomas tried to pass without speaking, but Will intercepted him.

“Tom,” he said, “I’m your brother still. I’m not asking help now; I only
came to tell you that I’m going to do better. I thought you would be
glad to hear it.”

“I want to hear nothing from you,” said Thomas. “You’ve disgraced us
forever, and you can go your way; we don’t want anything to do with you;
we don’t want to see you again!”

Will went forth into the street weeping.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thirty years have come and gone since Will was driven away from the
offices of his brothers. What changes have these years worked?

Soon after leaving prison Will was a constant visitor at the Railroad
Men’s Branch of the Y. M. C. A. Through the Secretary of the
Association, he soon secured a place as a day laborer in the machine
shops of the Big Bend Railroad. After securing regular employment, he
went to live in the Y. M. C. A. building. At the close of his first
year’s service with the railroad, he was promoted from a common laborer
and made an apprentice. After four or five years, he had learned the
trade and was receiving the daily wages of a machinist. After twelve
years with the company, he was made the Master Machinist. At the end of
fifteen years’ service, he was made Superintendent of Construction. Five
years later he was made a Division Superintendent. At the expiration of
more than twenty-five years of faithful service, Will Reynolds was able
to write after his name, “General Manager of the Big Bend Railroad.” He
had, also, been married for several years, and was the father of five

Will’s father and brothers lost sight of him for nearly twelve years, or
until the papers announced his appointment as Master Machinist of the
Big Bend Railroad. They suddenly awoke to find that their conclusions
that he had probably long since died a drunkard’s death, or had gone off
as a tramp and had been killed, or was again serving a sentence in
prison somewhere--were wrong.

The same week that Will was made Superintendent of Construction of the
Big Bend Railroad, the newspapers spread all over the country the news
that Col. Oliver P. Reynolds had committed suicide. According to their
way, the newspapers gave all the sickening details of the tragedy,
together with the whole family history. They said that Col. Reynolds had
been driven to suicide by his wife. They said that she was much younger
than he; that she was extravagant; that she was a leader in gay society;
they told how, on her account, Col. Reynolds had driven his son away
from home fifteen years before; they declared that the old man’s life
had been a hell to him; and that his wife had brought him almost to the
verge of bankruptcy, and, in order to escape facing open disgrace, he
had murdered himself.

When Will heard of his father’s death, he hastened at once to the city,
but was denied admission to the family residence, and had to attend the
funeral in the little church around the corner not as a member of the
family but merely as an outsider.

We are not concerned in this story with the fate of Will’s stepmother.
But, as to Will’s brothers,--well, the crash came eight or ten years
after the death of Col. Reynolds, or a short while before Will became
the General Manager of the Big Bend Railroad. John B. Reynolds and
Thomas Reynolds, members of the firm of John B. Reynolds & Bro., had
been arrested and placed in the Tombs, charged with misappropriating
$175,000 of trust funds. Again the family history was rehearsed in the
newspapers. The papers did not fail to recall the suicide of Col.
Reynolds, nor did they fail to tell how these two brothers had earlier
in life turned their backs on a younger brother.


Will read the papers, and, saying to his wife, “Well, Mary, perhaps
they’ll be glad to see me this trip,” he went immediately to offer his
services to his brothers.

He had prophesied correctly. John and Thomas were very glad to see him.
They had no friends among those high in financial circles because they
had for many years conducted their business in such a way that business
men had no confidence in them. They had no credit and could get nobody
to go on their bonds. Will took in the situation at a glance. He had
been thoughtful enough to bring along with him the leading attorney of
the Big Bend Railroad, and he put matters straightway into his hands.
Bail was arranged, the brothers were released, and the lawyer then
turned his attention to the prosecutors. It was discovered that almost
half of the amount stolen was the property of Simon B. Nesmith,
President of the Big Bend Railroad. When Will Reynolds and the lawyer
found that their own superior officer had been so heavily hit by John B.
Reynolds & Bro., they came near fainting. Fortunately Nesmith when he
heard the whole story agreed not to prosecute, and not only said that he
would be satisfied with any settlement that the Railroad’s Attorney
might arrange but also volunteered to see the others concerned and use
his influence in having them do likewise.

In a short time matters were adjusted, and John Reynolds and Thomas
Reynolds were saved from prison. But they lost all their earthly
possessions and their brother, “the black sheep” of the family, had to
secure them for the sum of $40,000 besides.

John B. Reynolds and Thomas Reynolds came to their senses. It was their
time to cry now. Amidst great sobs they said,----

“We treated you wrongly, brother Will; we ought to have helped you many
years ago; we are so sorry we didn’t; and it was such a small matter,

But Will said,----

“Don’t talk about the past: I’m your brother still. Go and do as I did.
Start over and make men of yourselves--you’ll have enough time. That’s
all I ask.”


I heard a minister say the other day that a mother had not necessarily
done much for her boy because she had bought him a nice Bible and put it
in his trunk, when he was about to leave home to seek his fortune in the
world. I think it wrong for anybody--minister or what not--to indulge in
such loose and flippant talk. The effect is bad--always bad, and no
hair splitting, and no higher criticism, and no curiously ingenious
explanations can mend the matter. As for me, give me the old-fashioned
mother who sends her son out into the world with a Bible in his trunk,
and give me the old-fashioned boy who reads that Bible every night with
tears in his eyes, as he thinks of the old folks at home and of their
simple lives devoted to Jesus Christ. Give me the man, woman or child,
whose hands touch the Bible reverently, instead of slinging it about as
a dictionary or some common dime novel. Give me the plain old fellow who
quickly takes leave of that circle in which critics are proceeding to
ably explain away certain chapters of the Bible.

As for me, I want no new theories about the Bible--no new versions--no
new criticisms. No man has a right to weaken the faith of others. No man
has a right to knock away the staff that supports the crippled wayfarer.
And no man has a right to tell an aged mother that it does no good to
give her boy a Bible unless he can suggest a better substitute. Destroy
the old-fashioned idea concerning the Bible, and we shall have a nation
of infidels defying God, defying the law, and repeating the
licentiousness and horrors of the French Revolution. We should make the
Bible first in all things. Make the Bible first in the family, in the
Sunday-school and church, make it first in state and society, and we
shall have a Republic that will grow brighter and brighter as the years
come and go, and then we “shall go out with joy, and be lead forth with
peace: and the mountains and the hills shall break forth before us into
singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”



  Andrew Carnegie, Greatest Philanthropist of the Age, who has climbed
  from the position of messenger boy and telegraph operator to become
  America’s richest steel manufacturer, a Multi-Millionaire, has given
  practically every large city that would accept it, a Library for the
  general public, averaging in value $500,000.00. His gifts have had
  enormous money value, but the value to humanity cannot be estimated.


“Do not make riches, but usefulness, your first aim, and let your chief
pride by that your daily occupation is in the line of progress and
development; that your work, in whatever capacity it may be, is useful
work, honestly conducted, and as such ennobles your life.

“Whatever your salary be, save a little; live within your means. The man
who saves a little from his income has given the surest indication of
the very qualities that every employer is seeking for.

“The great successes of life are made by concentration. Do not think you
have done your full duty when you have performed the work assigned you.
You will never rise if you only do this.

“You hear a good deal about poverty nowadays, and the cry goes up to
abolish poverty, but it will be the saddest day of civilization when
poverty is no longer with us. It is from the soil of poverty that all
the virtues spring. Without poverty, where will your inventor, your
artist, your philanthropist, come from?

“There are three classes of young men in the world. One starts out to be
a millionaire. Another seeks reputation, perhaps at the cannon’s mouth.
A third young man, who will be successful, is he who starts out in life
with self-respect and who is true to himself and his fellow-men. He
cannot fail to win.”


1. The essential part of good breeding is the practical desire to afford
pleasure and to avoid giving pain. Any boy possessing this desire
requires only opportunity and observation to become a little gentleman.

2. Never be guilty of what are called practical jokes; that is to say,
never place a pin in a chair so that somebody may come along and sit on
the pin’s point; never pull back a chair when a person is about to sit
down, and in that way cause such a person to fall on the floor. No
little gentleman will play such tricks.

3. Whenever a lady enters a room, it is proper for boys to rise, if they
are seated, but you must never offer a lady a chair from which you have
just risen, if there is another chair in the room.

4. Never engage in conversation while a person is singing. It is an
insult not only to the singer but to the company.

5. Always take off your hat when assisting a lady to or from a carriage.

6. If in a public place, you pass and re-pass persons of your
acquaintance, it is only necessary to salute them on the first occasion.

7. Do not wear anything that is so conspicuous as to attract attention;
and, particularly, avoid the ruffian style.


8. Do not lose your temper. Particularly if you are playing innocent
games for amusement and happen to lose; avoid the exhibition of anxiety
or vexation at lack of success.

9. In all your associations, keep constantly in view the old adage, “too
much familiarity breeds contempt.”


The right to play is one of the divine rights of men and women, of boys
and girls, and is just as essential to the peace, happiness and
prosperity of the world as is the right to pray. Never be afraid or
ashamed, my young friends, of honest, vigorous, healthy play. Dominoes,
lawn tennis, baseball, football, ping-pong, golf, foot-racing, leaping
and jumping, boxing and wrestling, pole-vaulting, punching the bag,
swinging dumb-bells or Indian clubs, and a hundred other things are
perfectly sane and wholesome amusements for old or young. To refrain
from all forms of amusements is just as destructive of happiness and
injurious to character as is the other extreme of indulging too freely
in pleasures and pastimes. Puritan austerity and unrestrained excess are
alike to be condemned. But a certain amount of play--play of the right
kind and within proper limits--is a divine right of young people. Young
people must have fun and relaxation, and, if they do not find it in
their own homes, it will be sought in other and perhaps dangerous

For myself, I believe that anybody is an enemy to young people who
desires to repress and crush out the naturally buoyant spirits of
childhood and youth, and he is a benefactor of humanity who makes it a
part of his business to see that proper places of amusement are provided
for the young people. Aside from the physical advantages of play, there
are moral advantages also. A man who helps to keep his body in good
condition by regular exercise is, in that way, beyond a doubt, adding to
the number of his days; that is to say, he will live longer than the man
who doesn’t play. But beyond and above that, he is a happier man while
he lives; he gets more joy and satisfaction out of life than the other
fellow. Sane and healthy play tends to blot out the remembrance of cares
and hardship; it gives our minds something else to think about. But
young people must be careful not to become absorbed in these things. I
believe in play; I believe in pleasure, in fun. But when I see young
people, or old people for that matter, devoting all their time to
wheeling, footballing, card parties, the giddy whirl of the dance, the
bacchanalian hilarity of the dram shop, and so on, I am forced to say
that things which may be right when taken in moderation, and as a relief
from the overtaxing burdens of life, are wrong when they become the
chief object for which one lives.


A forsaken little kitten wandered up and down the street on the day
before Christmas. It had no home; it had no name; it had no ribbon
around its neck; and it had no saucer of nice milk in one corner.

It began to grow dark, and colder too, and the stars came peeping out,
and the first flakes of a real Christmas snowstorm began floating down
through the air. The kitten mewed a trembling little mew, which told as
plainly as it could that it was very hungry, and it fluffed out its fur
to keep itself warm.

Now, somewhere along that street, up on top of a house (hiding behind a
chimney where he couldn’t be seen), was Santa Claus, getting everything
in shape before starting on his evening round. When old Santa saw that
lonesome little kitten strolling around he smiled--yes, old Santa Claus
smiled. He smiled because he knew that two blocks up the street a little
girl was standing with her nose pressed against the window, looking out
into the deepening night.

He had seen her as he went by. And he had also seen the poor little
supper laid out for two on the table, and heard her say to her mother,
in a quavering voice:

“Not even one present, mamma--not the teeniest little one!”

“No, Susie,” her mother had answered, “I’m sorry I couldn’t get anything
for my little girl this year, but--you know there wasn’t any money,
dear.” And there was a tremble in her mother’s voice, too.


Susie wiped away the tears, and turned to look out of the window.
Perhaps she said to herself, “perhaps Santa Clause has something for me
after all!”

Now, the sad, really dreadful part about it was that Santa Clause didn’t
have one single thing for Susie in his pack. Perhaps it was because she
had moved into that house since last Christmas, or perhaps for once old
Santa had made a mistake. Anyway, he was just saying to himself: “Why,
bless me, what shall I do about it?” when he caught sight of that
shivering little kitten.

“The very thing!” he thought. “I’ll give them to each other!” and he
chuckled till his reindeer looked around to see what was the matter.

And what happened next? Well, that kitten never knew really. It only
seemed as if there was a sudden rush and jingle of bells, which
frightened it so that it flew up the street as fast as its four little
legs could carry it, until it saw a small friendly face at a window, and
rushed up some steps nearby. Then a door opened, and two soft little
arms picked it up gently from the cold snow and a voice cried:

“Oh, mamma, see the poor little kitten--it’s so cold--oh, we’ll keep it,
won’t we, mamma! The poor little thing. Do you think it would drink

Would it drink milk? What a question to ask about a little kitten. While
the little kitten was nearly choking itself trying to drink a saucerful
of milk and purr at the same time, there was a jingle of bells outside,
and Susie said:

“Mamma, I hear old Santa’s bells, and, of course, this is the present he


Deacon Hepworth kept a little fish market.

“Do you want a boy to help you?” asked Frank Shaw one day.

“Can you give good weight to my customers and take good care of my

“Yes, sir,” answered Frank.

Forthwith he took his place in the little store, weighed the fish and
kept the room in order.

“A whole day for fun, fireworks and noise tomorrow!” exclaimed Frank, as
he buttoned his white apron about him the day before the Fourth of July.
A great trout was thrown down on the counter by Ned Tant, one of Frank’s


“Here’s a royal trout, Frank. I caught it myself. You may have it for
ten cents. Just hand over the money, for I’m in a hurry to buy my
firecrackers,” said Ned hurriedly.

The deacon was out, but Frank had made purchases for him before, so the
dime spun across to Ned, who was off like a shot. Just then Mrs.
Sinclair appeared.

“I want a nice trout for my dinner tomorrow. This one will do; how much
is it?” she asked as she carefully examined it.

“A quarter, ma’am,” and the fish was transferred to the lady’s basket
and the silver piece to the money drawer.

But here Frank paused.

He thought to himself: “Ten cents was very cheap for that fish. If I
tell the deacon it cost fifteen cents he’ll be satisfied, and I shall
have five cents to invest in firecrackers.”

The deacon was pleased with Frank’s bargain, and when the market was
closed each went his way for the night.

But the nickel buried in Frank’s pocket burned like a coal. He could eat
no supper, and was cross and unhappy. At last he could stand it no
longer, but, walking rapidly, tapped at the door of Deacon Hepworth’s

The old man was seated at a table, reading the Bible. Frank’s heart
almost failed him, but he told the story and with tears of sorrow laid
the coin in the deacon’s hand.

Turning over the leaves of the Bible, the old man read:

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper, but whoso confesseth and
forsaketh them shall have mercy.”

“You have forgiveness, Frank,” he said. “Now go home and confess to the
Lord, and remember you must forsake as well as confess. Here, you may
keep this coin as long as you live to remind you of your first


In the city of Columbus, Georgia, there was erected in the year 1904 a
monument to the memory of a colored man named Bragg Smith. Mr. Smith
lost his life in the autumn of 1903 in an effort to save the life of the
city engineer of Columbus, who had been buried under an excavation in
the street. A large crowd of colored men was at work digging deep
trenches in which were to be placed pipes for running water about the
city. In some way the sides of the narrow trench had not been properly
supported by planks or otherwise, and by-and-by a great stretch of dirt
caved in. Unfortunately the city engineer, a white man, was caught
underneath the falling dirt. Bragg Smith did not stop to say: “Oh, it’s
a white man; let him die!” but at once jumped down into the ditch and
tried to pull the white man from under the heavy dirt. It was while he
was engaged in this work that the dirt fell from both sides a second
time, and Bragg Smith, in his effort to save the life of the white man,
lost his own life. The Bible says: “Greater love hath no man than this,
that a man will lay down his life for a friend.”

The city council at its first regular meeting after the accident voted
to erect a suitable monument to the memory of Mr. Smith. The monument
was dedicated in April, 1904. The monument is of Vermont and Georgia
marbles, and bears on one side this inscription:

“Erected by the City of Columbus to mark the last resting place of Bragg
Smith, who died on September 30, 1903, in the heroic but fruitless
effort to save the life of the city engineer.”

On the other side appears this quotation from Alexander Pope:

  “Honor and fame from no conditions rise;
  Act well your part; there all the honor lies.”


My dear children, I am happy to say that all boys who are called bad
boys are not bad boys. There is quite a difference between a bad boy and
a merely mischievous boy. A boy is not necessarily bad because he makes
unearthly noises about the house, or now and then twists the cat’s tail
just to hear her mew, or muddies his clothes in an effort to catch
crawfish. He is not bad just because he likes to “play fantastic” on the
fourth day of July. So many people complain of their boys being bad when
they are only mischievous--that is to say, when they are only full of
life. Some people think that a good boy is one that has a pale face and
looks sickly; one that wears a sanctimonious look and moves along
through the world as though he were afraid to put one foot in front of
the other. That isn’t my kind of a boy. I do not think that kind of a
fellow is a boy at all--he is ’most a girl! A boy who never enjoys a
romp in the woods, who never climbs the apple tree before or after the
apples are ripe, who never plays ball, who will not shoot marbles,
etc.--this sort of a boy usually dies young, or he grows up to be a
“male woman.” I mean by that, that he grows up to be a man who acts like
a woman; and that kind of man is hardly fit for anything.


But there are some bad boys, I am sorry to say--really bad boys, bad in
heart and in deed. I have seen some on the chain gangs; I have seen some
hanging around the street corners--especially on Sundays, with no clean
clothes on; I have seen them smoking cigarettes--and a cigarette is
something which no manly boy will use; I have seen them in saloons,
drinking, playing pool and playing cards; I have sometimes seen them
shooting dice in the street for money. There are probably one thousand
boys in the jails, reformatories and in the penitentiaries in the single
state of Georgia. To form anything like an adequate estimate of the
total number of bad boys in the South we must add to the above number
the boys imprisoned in the other states; and, also, that much larger
number who have never been imprisoned because they happen never to have
been arrested, or who have been arrested and have had their fines paid
in money; and, finally, we must add those who have already served their
time and are again at large. So, you see, there are many thousands and
thousands of bad boys in the world, and they are very easily found. Are
you a bad boy or a good boy? Isn’t it better to be a good boy than to be
a bad boy?


[Illustration: THE BAD BOY]

Almost anybody can make something out of a boy who is naturally good,
but it takes one of very Christlike power and patience to make anything
out of a really bad boy. Yet all boys may be reclaimed, reformed, saved;
at least so I believe. And the first step in making a good man out of a
bad boy has to do with the boy’s body. The Holy Bible tells us that our
bodies are the temples--the dwelling places--of the Holy Ghost, and
every boy, and every teacher of every boy, in the home or day school or
Sunday school, should give more time and attention to the body in order
to make it a fit place for such a holy being. It is as true now as of
old that plenty of soap and water will exert a wholesome influence in
making bad boys good. Some one has said that cleanliness is next to
godliness, and somebody has added that soap is a means of grace. A boy
who is taught to bathe regularly and who is taught to keep his clothing
neat and clean at all times will in that way learn the great lesson of
self-respect quicker than in any other way; and, in my judgment, the
shortest way to the purification of a boy’s habits, a boy’s morals, a
boy’s character, is to teach him first to keep his body pure. Keep it
pure not only by baths and clean clothes, but keep it pure and sweet by
keeping it free from whiskey and tobacco in every form. Exercise,
regular and systematic exercise, whether as work or play, will go a
great way towards keeping the body clean and healthy. Every boy is
mistaken, every parent is mistaken, who thinks that labor is unworthy,
or that any kind of honest work is degrading. The body needs to be kept
alive and vigorous by the frequent use of all its parts, and there is no
better way to keep the body vigorous than by doing some kind of
work--work that requires the use of the hands and legs and muscles, work
that stimulates the blood and makes it flow freely through the body.

Another step in the process of making a good man out of a bad boy has to
do with the mind. The body grows not alone by exercise, but the body
grows by what we put into it: the food we eat and the water we drink,
etc. We might say, I think, that the body grows on what it feeds on. It
is the same way with the mind: the mind grows on what it feeds on. If we
feed our minds on obscene pictures, on bad books, on vulgar stories,
told by ourselves or our associates, we cannot expect to have minds that
are keenly alive and active for good. Our thoughts control us, boys and
girls, whether we understand the process by which they control or not.
Our thoughts control us. If our thoughts are pure and sweet and noble,
we will be pure and sweet and noble. If our thoughts are impure, vile
and ignoble, we will be impure, vile and ignoble. Our thoughts rule us.
So every boy should guard well his thoughts; every boy should guard well
what he puts into his mind. Every boy’s mind feeds on what he puts into
it, and every boy’s mind grows on what it feeds. It goes without saying,
then, that a boy should not read “blood and thunder” detective stories,
stories about the “James Brothers” and other outlaws and bandits; nor
should a boy read filthy so-called “love stories.” All such literature
should be shunned, as a boy would shun deadly poison. A boy who desires
to become a good man should read only those things which will give him
confidence in himself that he can and may become a good man--good for
the service of God and the service of his fellow-men. Bad company must
also be left behind if a bad boy wants to become a good boy. Those boys
who tell smutty jokes and stories should not be allowed to associate
with that boy whose eyes have been opened and who wants to feed his mind
on good and wholesome food. Character, boys, in its last analysis
depends chiefly on three things: Heredity, environment and will. Now you
cannot do much to change your inherited tendencies--the tendencies you
receive from mother and father at birth, but you can do much in
offsetting, in overcoming these tendencies. You can also do much with
the aid of a generous and enlightened public to change your surroundings
if they happen to be bad. I confess that your mothers and fathers, your
teachers and pastors ought to do much more in this regard than you; but
if they will not exert themselves to get you out of evil surroundings,
then, as you value your own life and time and possibilities, by the help
of God, try to get out yourselves. The will is very largely influenced
by your surroundings. Hence you can see the importance of having good
books and good associates.

But whatever you do, boys, do not forget Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God,
who takes away the sin of the world. The highest part of your nature is
your spiritual nature, and, while you are building up the body and
building up the mind, do not forget to build up your soul. If others
will not assist you in this greater matter you can help yourselves. The
Master said: “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid
them not.”



I suppose there is not a little colored girl or boy in America who has
not heard of the wonderful “Blind Tom,” one of the greatest musicians of
the world. I wish that every boy and girl might have seen him and heard
him give one of his remarkable performances with the piano. I had that
high favor and privilege myself. During his life on the stage, or for
more than forty years, “Blind Tom” was seen probably by more people in
the world than any one living being. His stage career was closed
somewhere in 1900. Everywhere, in this country and Europe, those who
observed him most closely, and attempted to understand him, pronounced
him a living miracle, unparalleled, incomprehensible, such as had not
been seen before in the world, and probably never would be seen again.

Thomas Greene Bethune, better known to the public as “Blind Tom,” was
born within a few miles of the city of Columbus, Georgia, on the
twenty-fifth day of May, 1849. He was of pure negro blood, and was born
blind. He was little less than four years old when a piano was brought
to the house of his master, for he was born a slave. As long as any one
was playing he was contented to stay in the yard and dance and caper to
the music. Sometimes he was permitted to indulge his curiosity by being
allowed to run his fingers over the keys. One night the parlor and piano
had been left open. Before day the young ladies of the family awoke and
were astounded to hear Blind Tom playing one of their pieces. The family
gathered around him to witness and wonder at his performance, which they
said was marvellously strange. Notwithstanding that this was his first
known effort at a tune, he played with both hands and used the black as
well as the white keys. Pretty soon he was allowed free access to the
piano, and began to play off-hand everything he heard. As young as he
was, he soon mastered all of that and began composing for himself. The
record of his public life is too long for me to give, but that Blind Tom
was known and honored around the world is known to everybody.

But feeling that every colored boy and girl should be justly proud of
Blind Tom’s record, I will give some words from the book of Hon. James
M. Trotter, himself a colored man. His book is called “Music and Some
Highly Musical People.” He says:

“Blind Tom is unquestionably the most wonderful musician the world has
ever known. He is an absolute master in the comprehension and retention
of all sound. You may sit down to the pianoforte and strike any note or
chord or discord, or a great number of them, and he will at once give
their proper names, and, taking your place, reproduce them. Complete
master of the pianoforte keyboard, he calls to his melodious uses, with
most consummate ease, all of its resources that are known to skillful
performers, as well as constantly discovers and applies those that are
new. Under his magnetic touch this instrument may become, at his will, a
music box, a hand organ, a harp, or a bagpipe, a “Scotch fiddle,” a
church organ, a guitar, or a banjo; it may imitate the “stump speaker”
as he delivers his glowing harangue; or, being brought back to its
legitimate tones, it may be made to sing two melodies at once, while the
performer, with his voice, delivers a third, all three in different time
and keys, all in perfect tune and time, and each one easily
distinguishable from the other! He remembers and plays fully seven
thousand pieces. Some persons, it is true, have had the temerity to say
that Blind Tom is an idiot. Out with the idea! Who ever heard of an
idiot possessing such power of memory, such fineness of musical
sensibility, such order, such method, as he displays? Let us call him
the embodiment of music, the soul of music, and there let our
investigations rest, for all else is vain speculation. No one lives, or,
so far as we know, has ever lived, that can at all be compared with


Susan and Mamie and Lillian and Marjorie were always close friends. They
usually went together and played together and it was very unusual to see
one of them without the others. At school they always made it a rule to
lunch together and play together. One day at recess they were standing
in a little group all by themselves when Frances joined them.

[Illustration: “FRANCES.”]

“What are you talking about, girls?” asked Frances in cheerful tones.

“I’m telling them a secret,” said Susie, “and we will let you know, too,
Frances, if you’ll promise not to tell any one.”

“I’ll promise you not to tell anybody but my mother,” said Frances, “for
I have made it a rule to tell my mother everything.”

“No; you can’t even tell your mother,” answered Susie; “you must not
tell any one in the world.”

“Well, then, I refuse to hear it,” said Frances, as she walked away,
“for what I can’t tell my mother is not fit for me to know.”

Don’t you think Frances was right, girls? I think so. As soon as little
boys and girls begin to listen to words and stories which they would be
ashamed to repeat to their mothers they are on the road to temptation,
and nobody can tell how soon they will reach the end, which is always
disgrace and death.

I wish all the boys and girls who will read this book would make the
reply of Frances their motto: “What I cannot tell my mother is not fit
to know.” Stick to this rule through thick and thin, and you will avoid
many of the snares and pitfalls by which many of your companions and
playmates sink into shame and sin. Don’t read a note that you would be
afraid to have your mother read. Don’t look at a picture that you would
be ashamed to have your mother see. Don’t speak any word, and don’t
allow any to be spoken to you, that you would not like to have your
mother hear. A girl’s best friend is her mother. A boy’s best friend is
his mother. And, boys and girls, be very sure that if a thing isn’t fit
for your mothers to know it isn’t fit for you to know.


Henry Oliphant always considered himself lucky whenever he was able to
get a ride on the street cars without paying for it, or get a glass of
soda water or be admitted to some public place, where an admission fee
was charged, without paying the price. He was bragging one day to some
of his boy friends that he had not paid anything to witness the school
exhibition the night before. Frank Sewall was brave enough to chide him
for having done so. Frank was a plain-spoken boy, and Henry didn’t like
what Frank had said. He thought what he had done was all right, while
Frank had said that it was all wrong. Anyhow, Henry decided to get his
father’s opinion on the matter.

“Father,” he said, when night had come, “I got in the hall last night
for nothing.”

“How was that?”

“I just walked by the doorkeeper and he didn’t ask me for any money.”

“Did the doorkeeper see you?”

“Well, father, that was his business; he was put there for that purpose;
he ought to have seen me.”

“But I asked you, Henry, whether the doorkeeper saw you. I want you to
answer that question.”

“I don’t know, sir.”

“Do you think he saw you?”

“I don’t know, sir.”

“Well, Henry, if he had seen you, don’t you think he would have asked
you for your money or a ticket?”


“I guess so, father; but he didn’t ask me for anything.”

“Well, now, Henry, you know that a charge of ten cents was made at the
door, and that no one had a right to enter who had not paid the ten
cents. You did go in without paying. Now, whether the doorkeeper saw you
or not, do you think that that was quite honest on your part? Was that
the right way for you to act?”

“Well, I would have paid him if he asked me. I wasn’t the doorkeeper.”

“I guess the man who stole our wood last week would have paid me if I
had seen him and asked him; but we called that stealing.”

“But, father, I did not take anything from the doorkeeper.”

“Who gave you the money with which to pay your admission?”


“Where is that money now?”

“I have it; but I didn’t take it from the doorkeeper.”

“But you kept it from him, Henry. It belongs to the doorkeeper. He gave
you its value. My son, the right way is, whenever you buy anything,
whether it be a ride or a glass of soda water or permission to see a
concert, whenever you buy anything you ought to pay for it. If you don’t
you are no better than a common robber. You must go today and give Mr.
Hall that ten cents.”



[Illustration: THE TWO PATHS.]

I sometimes think that boys and girls, and even old people, are often
careless in the matter of their friendships--not careless in the matter
of selecting friends, though I am sure there is room for improvement
along that line--but careless in trying to keep the good friendships we
have already formed. We ought to keep our friendships in repair. Perhaps
you think that our friendships are not things which need to be kept in
repair. How foolish it is to think so! Does a garden need to be weeded?
Does an old fence need to be kept in repair? Do we paint our houses only
once in a century? What about the musician--does he not need to keep in
practice? Supposing that you never kept your muscles in repair by
constant use or exercise--how long would you be strong or healthy? And
do you think that your friendships, because they are in a way
intangible--you cannot see them, handle them or taste them--do you think
that they grow and thrive of their own accord, and, therefore, do not
need to be kept in repair? Slights, snubs, angry words, unpleasant
conduct, long continued lack of association, long continued lack of
familiar intercourse, and coldness, even where the meetings are
periodic--these things, boys and girls, will kill the warmest
friendship and choke the tenderest love. So we ought to be careful to
keep our friendships in repair. If we had no friends in this world, no
playmates and companions, no kindred spirits into whose keenest sorrows
and highest joys we entered with deep and full sympathy, and who did not
enter into our sorrows and joys in the same way--if we had no friends in
this world, with all of its wealth and splendor, we should not desire to
live very much longer. But to have friends and to be friendly goes a
long way towards making the world a beautiful and blessed place to live

How, then, may we keep our friends? Easy enough--by cultivating them;
and we cannot keep them in any other way. We should take time to be
friendly. Little notes, little presents, little visits, little social
entertainments, little kindnesses--these things, and things like them,
go a great way in cementing our friendships, in tying people to us, as
it were, with hooks of steel. We should not neglect these means of
keeping our friendships in repair. Always give your friends a cordial
welcome in your homes, and at your little children’s parties; let them
feel, make them feel, that their coming adds to your pleasure without
increasing your burdens. Don’t be selfish and narrow; be broad-minded
and liberal. Keep your friendships in repair, and then see if you do not
find your horizon broadened, your life sweetened, and the weary weight
of this sad old world lightened.


Christmas morning came.

Daylight was just peeping into the room.

Poor little Annie, the cripple, awoke and turned her eyes towards the
corner where she had hung her stocking the night before.

Surely, she thought, as she watched it, there could not be very much in
it, because it didn’t seem to be any larger than it was when she had
hung it up. After awhile she crept slowly to where it was.

She did not take her crutches, for fear she would disturb her mother,
who slept in the same bed with her. It was hard for her to move around
without her crutches, but she persevered and finally she reached her


She put out her thin little hand and felt it. Yes, there was something
in it! Then she put her hand inside and took out something which seemed
round and soft. She took it out and looked at it. It was a little cake.
Poor little Annie smiled, and put her hand back into the stocking. This
time she found something which was done up in paper. She opened the
paper and found a whole dozen of gumdrops. How brightly her little eyes
flashed! She was only six years old and she had never had so much candy
at one time in all her life.

By-and-by her mother awoke. She raised her head and saw Annie’s happy
face. “Poor girl,” she thought, “how happy I would have been to have
bought something else for her, but I wasn’t able. I hope she will be
happy with what she has.”

“See, mother,” cried Annie, “I have twelve gumdrops and a cake. We will
eat half of the gumdrops today and save the other half for to-morrow.
You’ll eat three and I will eat three.”

“No, Annie,” said her mother, “you must eat every one by yourself.”

Annie smiled, but did not say anything.

Little Annie’s mother was a widow, and she was very, very poor; there
were many times when they had only a little dry bread and water for the
day’s food. For this bright Christmas season there were many things
besides food which she would like to have bought for her poor little
crippled child; but she did not have any money to pay for playthings or

After breakfast on this Christmas day Johnny Ray came to see them. He
brought with him a good thick shawl for Annie’s mother and four pairs of
warm stockings which his mother had sent for Annie, and, also, a large
package of nice candy.

Little Annie’s mother cried for joy.

Little Annie was too happy to speak. She had never dreamed of having so
much candy at one time!


One bright day Archibald mounted his velocipede and rode out into the
long green lane, where he could ride for a long distance without
interruption. He had left his coat in the house because he knew that
riding would make him very warm.

When he reached the lane the velocipede moved along so smoothly that
Archibald was very happy. By the time he had gone nearly a half mile he
was tired and stopped for a rest.

Pretty soon he heard a noise coming from behind, and he wondered what
rider it might be on the same track that beautiful spring morning. He
looked up and saw John Smith coming, riding a large velocipede and going
as fast as he could.

Archibald quickly mounted his wheel and started on a swift run, trying
to overtake the flying John. Before they reached the end of the road
they saw Clara Hempton, standing by the fence with her little
velocipede. Clara watched the boys as they flitted past. She thought
that she could keep up with John, but she was not sure that she could
ride as fast as Archibald.

[Illustration: THE VELOCIPEDE RACE.]

While she was meditating Archibald cried out:

“Clara, you wait until we finish this race, and then we three will go
back together.”

Archibald reached the end first, but John was not very far behind.

When Clara reached them Archibald said:

“Now we will all have a fair start and see who will reach the other end

So they all started on a line. Archibald knew that he was the largest
and could go the fastest, but, as he had won the other race, he did not
ride this time as fast as he could. He thought this was the right way to
give the others a fair chance.

Clara and John reached the other end of the lane at exactly the same
time, with Archibald a short distance behind them.

John and Clara were greatly delighted because they had won the race from
the big boy, Archibald. Archibald was pleased because they were pleased.
This was not the only time that Archibald had proved that he was a good
and kind boy, and that he was thoughtful of little children younger than

From this little story of the velocipede race many other little boys and
girls may learn a good lesson, I hope, that will do them good all
through life.


[Illustration: FAULT FINDING.]

Faults are the easiest things to find in all this world. A fault is
something that can be found without looking for it. And I guess no
little boy or girl in all the world knows anything that is easier to
find than something that he or she doesn’t have to look for. Well,
faults are things that we can find without looking for them; so faults
are the easiest things to find in all the world. Yet, boys and girls,
the habit of fault-finding, or the habit of finding fault, is one of the
worst habits that anybody could form. It stamps the person who is so
easy to find fault with everything and everybody as being a mean, low,
envious, evil-hearted person. It is better to look for something to
praise, than it is to look for something to blame. Yet there are some
people who are so constituted that they do not see any good in anything.
When it is cold, it is too cold. When it is hot, it is too hot. They
don’t like “vici kid” shoes; they want patent leathers. The singing at
church or Sunday school last Sunday was just horrid. Old Mary Jones
ought to be taken out of the choir. The preacher preaches too long, or
the deacon prays too loud. The school teacher isn’t any good. So they go
on from day to day, finding fault with everything and everybody.
Nothing pleases them; nothing delights them. If by any chance or
mischance they should get to heaven they would, I believe, find fault
with the way the Lord has arranged things up there. They are miserable
people to have around--these good-for-nothing, lazy and trifling
fault-finders. If you try real hard, boys and girls, you can find
something good in everything and in everybody. That is one reason why we
do not always see the good in people or things--we don’t look for it. We
can find out what is bad--can find out the bad things without looking
for them, but if we want to see the good things we must be on the
lookout for them. If we are on the lookout--if we make up our minds that
we are going to see the good, and only the good, we are always sure to
find it.

There was an old woman once who was noted for being able to say
something good about everything and everybody. She was never heard to
speak evil of anything or anybody. Once upon a time a gambler died in
the city where she lived. He was a miserable sinner, and nobody liked
him and nobody had a good word to say for him, even after he was dead.
Aunt Maria, the good old lady, went to see him after he had been put
into his coffin. The people who were present wondered what good thing
Aunt Maria could possibly say about the dead sinner. Aunt Maria entered
the room and walked around on tiptoe. After awhile she raised her head
and said:

“Friends, I tell you, he makes a mighty nice looking corpse.”


  Wistfully down the street she strolled,
  From side to side her eyes she rolled,
  Till far away her eyes she cast
  On the grateful form of a man at last.

  She smoothed her hair and she quickened her pace,
  Hoping she’d meet him face to face;
  But when she reached him she felt awful sore:
  ’Twas a figure of wax in front of a store!


In the olden times parents used to rule their children, but in these
days and times there are many people who believe that the children rule
their parents. So many misguided parents in these days and times believe
in sparing the rod and spoiling the child. Boys don’t get many whippings
at home nowadays, and if a boy happens to get a good flogging at school
it will cause a big row, and sometimes cause the teacher to be
threatened with arrest. Whenever my teacher used to whip me I was always
afraid to mention it at home for fear of getting another. I heard a man
say the other day: “Never whip a child; raise your boy on love and
kindness and reason!” Yes; and when that boy is twelve or thirteen years
old somebody will have to go to him and talk to him and try to persuade
him not to whip his father or mother.


I was at church the other day and I saw two boys about ten or eleven
years old. After service they lit their cigarettes and went marching
off as big as Trip. A man of the old school looked at them for awhile,
and then, turning away, he said:

“I just wish I could have my way with those boys for about two minutes.”

I didn’t say anything, but deep down in my heart I sympathized with the
old man, and felt that both of the youngsters ought to have had a good

Some girls are almost as bad as some boys. Girls are most too fast in
these days. As soon as they get their dresses to their shoetops they are
gone. They go crazy over their clothes, for they think that they must
keep in the fashion. They read too much trash, for they think that is
the way refined and cultured people do. Old-fashioned modesty is at a
discount. The girls don’t wait for the boys to come now--that is, many
of them don’t; they go after them. I have seen some girls running around
in these new-fashioned night gowns, and they call it a Mother Hubbard
party. If their mothers don’t allow them to go with the boys they will
slip around and meet them somewhere anyhow. And where they are allowed
to go with the boys they generally go to extremes. What business has a
little girl--ten or twelve or fourteen years old--to be locked-arms with
a little stripling of a boy, going home at night from church or some
social entertainment. It always disgusts me whenever I see it. Worse
than a mannish boy is a womanish girl. What business has a little girl,
or a larger one, to allow a man to throw his arm around her waist in
the round dance? It is immodest, to say the least, and there is not a
good mother in the land who approves it. A girl who goes to a
promiscuous ball and waltzes around with promiscuous fellows puts
herself in a promiscuous fix to be talked about by the dudes and rakes
and fast young fellows who have encircled her waist. Slander is very
common, I know, especially slander of young ladies; there are not many
young ladies who escape it; but the trouble about it is that it is not
all slander--some of it is the truth.

In the olden times when folks got married they stayed married, but
nowadays the courts are full of divorce cases. The land is spotted with
what are called “grass widows,” and in many a household there is hidden
grief over a daughter’s shame. Why is it? What causes it? Lack of proper
training and care of the young. Habits are great things--good habits or
bad habits. If girls are reared to clean their teeth and keep their
fingernails clean they will keep them clean all their lives. If boys are
reared to chew tobacco and smoke they will never quit. The same about
loving and courting and getting married. Much depends upon training,
upon habits. Young flirts make old flirts. Young devils make old


The little colored boys and girls of America should be proud to know, as
I suppose the little white boys and girls will be surprised to learn,
that the first clock of which every portion was made in America was made
by a colored man.

The colored children will also be glad to know, I think, that among the
earliest almanacs prepared for general use in this country were those
which were published for several years by this same colored man. His
name was Benjamin Banneker. I have found a good and true account of this
wonderful man in The Atlantic Monthly for January, 1863. I am going to
give a good portion of that account in this book, because I believe
every colored person in America should be acquainted with that man’s
history. The account says:

“Benjamin Banneker was born in Baltimore County, Maryland, near the
village of Ellicott’s Mills, in the year 1732. There was not a drop of
white man’s blood in his veins. His father was born in Africa, and his
mother’s parents were both natives of Africa. What genius he had, then,
must be credited to that race. When he was approaching manhood he went,
in the intervals of toil, to an obscure and remote country school. At
this school Benjamin acquired a knowledge of reading and writing, and
advanced in arithmetic as far as ‘Double position.’ Beyond these
rudiments he was his own teacher. Young Banneker had no books at all,
but in the midst of labor for a living he so improved upon what he had
gained in arithmetic that his intelligence became a matter of general
observation. He was such an acute observer of the natural world and had
so diligently observed the signs of the times in society that it is very
doubtful whether at forty years of age this African had his superior in

“Perhaps the first wonder amongst his comparatively illiterate neighbors
was excited, when, about the thirtieth year of his age, Benjamin made a
clock. It is probable that this was the first clock of which every
portion was made in America; it is certain that it was purely his own
invention as if none had ever been made before. He had seen a watch, but
never a clock, such an article not being within fifty miles of him. He
used the watch as a model for his clock. He was a long time at work on
the clock,--his chief difficulty, as he used often to relate, being to
make the hour, minute, and second hands correspond in their motion. But
at last the work was completed, and raised the admiration for Banneker
to quite a high pitch among his few neighbors.

“The making of the clock proved to be of great importance in assisting
the young man to fulfill his destiny. It attracted the attention of the
Ellicott family, who had just begun a settlement at Ellicott’s Mills.
They were well-educated men, with much mechanical knowledge, and some of
them Quakers. They sought out the ingenious negro, and he could not have
fallen into better hands. In 1787 Mr. George Ellicott gave him Mayer’s
“Tables,” Ferguson’s “Astronomy,” and Leadbetter’s “Lunar Tables.” From
this time astronomy became the great object of Banneker’s life, and in
its study he almost disappeared from the sight of his neighbors. He
slept much during the day, that he might the more devotedly observe at
night the heavenly bodies whose laws he was slowly, but surely,

“Very soon after the possession of the books already mentioned, Banneker
determined to compile an almanac, that being the most familiar use that
occurred to him of the information he had acquired. To make an almanac
then was a very different thing from what it would be now, when there is
an abundance of accurate tables and rules. Banneker had no aid whatever
from men or rules; and Mr. George Ellicott, who procured some tables and
took them to him, states that he had already advanced very far in the
preparation of the logarithms necessary for the purpose.

“The first almanac prepared by Banneker for publication was for the year
1792. By this time his acquirements had become generally known, and
among those who were attracted by them was Mr. James McHenry. Mr.
McHenry wrote to Goddard and Angell, then the almanac-publishers of
Baltimore, and procured the publication of this work, which contained
from the pen of Mr. McHenry, a brief notice of Banneker. When his first
almanac was published, Banneker was fifty-nine years old, and had
received tokens of respect from all the scientific men of the country.
Among others, Thomas Jefferson, then Secretary of State under George
Washington, wrote him a most flattering and complimentary letter. In his
letter Jefferson said, ‘Nobody wishes more than I do to see such proofs
as you exhibit, that Nature has given to our black brethren talents
equal to those of other colors of men, and that the appearance of a want
of them is owing only to the degraded condition of their existence both
in Africa and America.’

“Banneker continued to calculate and publish almanacs until 1802.

“Mr. Benjamin H. Ellicott, who was a true friend of Banneker, and
collected from various sources all the facts concerning him, wrote in a
letter as follows: ‘During the whole of his long life he lived
respectably and much esteemed by all who became acquainted with him, but
more especially by those who could fully appreciate his genius and the
extent of his acquirements.’

“Banneker’s head was covered with a thick mass of white hair, which gave
him a very dignified and venerable appearance. His dress was invariably
of superfine drab broadcloth, made in the old style of a plain coat,
with straight collar and long waistcoat, and a broad-brimmed hat. His
color was not jet black, but decidedly negro. In size and personal
appearance, the statue of Franklin at the library in Philadelphia, as
seen from the street, is a perfect likeness of him.

“Banneker died in the year 1804, beloved and respected by all who knew
him. Though no monument marks the spot where he was born and lived a
true and high life, and was buried, yet history must record that the
most original scientific intellect which the South has yet produced was
that of the pure African, Benjamin Banneker.”

The above is the story of that wonderful black man told in splendid
terms of high and well-deserved praise by a white man. Every little
black boy in America may well be fired with inspiration to do something
beyond the ordinary by reading the story of Banneker’s life.


It is truly astonishing what a boy can do when once he has made up his
mind to do his best. Dr. Len. G. Broughton, the famous pastor of the
Tabernacle Baptist church, Atlanta, Ga., in a little book, which he
calls “The Modern Prodigal,” has told a very pathetic story about a
little boy. It is so true to life, and so typical of what a black or
white boy may do under similar circumstances, if he only decides for the
true and the right, that I have decided to reproduce the little story in
this book. It is well worth reading. Dr. Broughton says:

“Not long after I entered the ministry, I went to a certain town to hold
a series of meetings. It was one of these good old Southern towns, the
inhabitants of which banked on aristocracy and fed their souls upon the
glory of departed days. They had never known what it was to be
spiritually warm. The first night I was there I preached to a great
audience. It was in my early ministry, when I made many propositions.
The first one I made that night was for any one to stand who wanted
prayers offered for their friends. As soon as I made it a little boy got
up and walked out in the aisle, where he stood looking me square in the
face. I said, ‘God bless you, little man,’ and he sat down. I then asked
any one who wanted the prayers of God’s people to rise. That boy got out
in the aisle again and looked me in the face, and again I said, ‘God
bless you.’ I asked if there was anybody present who was willing to
accept Jesus. That boy stood up again and looked me in the face, and
again I said, ‘God bless you.’ Nobody else stood up that night, and I
began to think I had struck about the hardest and coldest crowd I had
ever run up against.

“The next night I preached as hard as I knew how to sinners, and when I
finished, I asked anybody who wanted to be prayed for to stand up. The
same little rascal popped out into the aisle, as he had done the night
before, and stood looking at me until I saw him and said, ‘God bless
you.’ I thought I’d vary the thing a little, so I asked if anybody
present was willing to come forward and give me his hand as an
indication that he would accept Jesus. That same boy came shuffling out
of his seat, straight down the aisle and gave me his hand. I saw smiles
on the faces of some in the congregation. Nobody but the boy showed any
interest, and I went off somewhat disheartened. The third night I
preached, and when I asked all who wanted prayer to rise, that boy
popped out into the aisle. The people had begun to regard it as a joke,
and they nudged each other with their elbows, while a broad smile flared
from one side of the house to the other. When I asked anybody who was
willing to accept Jesus to come and give me his hand, that boy came, and
the congregation smiled broader than before. After the meeting the
deacons came to me and told me that the boy must be stopped, as he was a
half-idiot, and was throwing a damper on the meeting. I said: ‘Stop
nothing! How are you going to throw a damper on an ice-house?’

“For the whole of that week that boy was the only person in the house
who showed any interest in the meeting. Then he wanted to join the
church. The pastor was absent, and I was to open the doors of the
church. The deacons came to me and said I must not receive that boy, as
he didn’t have sense enough to join the church. I said: ‘Look here,
brethren, I won’t take this responsibility on my hands. I’m going to put
that boy on you, and if you choose to reject him, his blood be upon your
hands.’ At the conclusion of the morning service, I invited all who
wanted to unite with the church to come forward. That boy came. I asked
him if he had accepted Christ for his personal Saviour. That’s all I
ever ask. He said he had. ‘Brethren,’ I said, ‘you hear what this boy
has to say. What will you do with him?’ An ominous silence fell on the
congregation. After a time, from ’way back by the door, I heard a
muffled and rather surly, ‘I move he be received.’ Another painful
silence followed, and then, from the middle of the church, I heard a
muffled, ‘I second the motion.’ When I put the motion, about a half
dozen members voted ‘aye’ in a tone so low that it seemed as if they
were scared. I gave the boy the right hand of Christian welcome awaiting
baptism, and then dismissed the congregation.

“The next day the boy went out to see his old grandfather, a man whose
whitened head was blossoming for the grave, and whose feet were taking
hold upon the shifting sands of eternity. ‘Grandfather,’ said he, ‘won’t
you go to church with me to-night and hear that preacher?’ We always
feel kindly towards those who are afflicted, you know, and are willing
to please them; so the old man agreed to go.

“That night I saw the boy and the old man sitting away back by the door.
When the sermon was finished, one of the members of the church arose and
said: ‘I have a request to make. We have with us tonight, Mr. Blank, one
of our oldest and most respected citizens, but he is out of Christ. I
want special prayer offered for this my special friend.’ With that he
laid his hand upon the head of the old man, down whose furrowed cheeks
the tears were streaming. The next night I saw the old man sitting about
half-way down the aisle. When all who wanted to accept Jesus were
invited to come forward and give me their hands, I saw the half-idiot
boy coming down the aisle leading the old man by the hand.

“That little boy’s father kept a saloon. The following day the child
went there, and climbing up over the high counter, he peeped down upon
his father and said: ‘Papa, won’t you go to church with me to-night to
hear that preacher?’ ‘You get out of here, child,’ said the father; ‘go
out of here; don’t you know you mustn’t come in here?’ Strange, strange,
how fathers will keep places where their children cannot go! ‘But,
papa,’ continued the boy, ‘won’t you go to church with me to-night?’
‘Yes; I’ll go, but you get out of here.’

“That night the man came with the half-idiot boy, and sat about where
the old man had sat the night before. When I asked all who would accept
Jesus to come forward, he walked down the aisle and gave me his hand. He
asked if he could make a statement, and when I said ‘Yes,’ he faced the
congregation and said: ‘My friends, you all know me, and I want to say
that so long as I live I will never sell another drop of whiskey, for I
have given my heart to God to-night, and from this day forward I propose
to serve him.’

“The meeting warmed up at last, the town was set on fire for God. Every
saloon keeper was converted and every saloon was closed. The feeling
spread and a saloon seven miles in the country was closed and the keeper
was converted to God.

“At the close of the meeting I sat on the front seat and saw the pastor
lead three generations into the baptismal waters, the old man in front,
his son behind him, and last in line the little half-idiot boy. The only
mistake that was made, to my mind, was that the boy who had led the
others to Christ should not have been first in line. Where is the little
half-idiot boy now? He has grown much brighter within the last few
years, and is now going to school. He says he wants to be and will be a

“What a lesson for the young to-day. Persistent self-surrender, ever
doing the best we can, is a never failing way that leads to victory.”


1. A little lady always says, “I thank you” whenever anybody assists her
in any way, and always says, “If you please,” whenever she makes any
kind of request.

2. A little lady is never loud and boisterous on the streets, in public
places, or at home. Sometimes girls are so rough that they are called
“Tom-Boys.” No Tom-Boy ever was a true little lady.

3. A true little lady will always see that her linen is clean and
spotless--collars and cuffs, aprons and dresses, handkerchiefs, and all
articles of clothing. Every true little lady hates dirt.

4. A little lady will not be guilty of idle gossip. She will not tattle;
will not go around hunting all the evil things that are said or known
about other little ladies. She closes her ears tight against the
slanderers of the town.

5. A little lady will love the Sunday-school and the church. She will
love the society of good people and the society of good books. She will
have higher notions of life than that life is something to be spent in a
merry round of pleasure.

6. A true little lady loves her mother, and she will show that she loves
her mother in various ways. She will help her about the housework. She
will be fond of going out in company with her mother often. She will not
think that anybody else’s mother is or can be better than her own


7. Every true little lady will be a Christian. She will early give
herself to Jesus. She will delight to help the poor; to visit the sick,
carrying the cheer and comfort and something good to eat and flowers and
many other things. She will love everybody. Do you?


The first word is, Be true. The second word is, Be trustworthy. The
third word is, Dare to do right.

First: Be true! Be what you seem to be or what you pretend to be; do not
be a hypocrite; be firm and steady in adhering to friends, promises or
principles. Be a true boy; be a true girl.

Secondly: Be trustworthy! Be worthy of trust; be reliable; make your
word your bond. Conduct yourself in such a way that people can depend on

Thirdly: Dare to do right! Whatever comes or doesn’t come, stand by what
you believe to be right, even if you have to stand alone. Be honest,
upright, faithful, sincere, abhor that which is evil, cleave to that
which is good.

True boys and girls are scarce; they are not easily found; they do not
grow on trees. But, to tell you the truth, we need good boys and girls,
true boys and girls, much more than we do educated boys and girls. All
education without character is a dead weight!

Let me give you one or two reasons why you should be true, trustworthy,
and brave for the right. In the first place, for the sake of your
influence. Every boy and girl in this world has some influence. Every
boy in this world, white or black, rich or poor, high or low, is helping
his friends and playmates to grow better or worse, higher or lower in
the scale of being. Every girl in this world is likewise helping or
hindering others. If we are harsh and unkind, cruel and unjust--in every
wrong, every baseness, meanness, selfishness, we are harming not
ourselves alone but the whole great family of man. On the other hand,
when we speak fearlessly a brave, true word, when we perform cheerfully
a hard and trying task, whenever we are faithful, honest, earnest,
patient, pure, trustworthy, whether we know it or not, we are
strengthening the unseen impulses which make for nobility and higher
manhood and womanhood throughout the world. In the economy of God, by
his infinite wisdom, the humblest life reaches forward to the highest
and the highest life reaches backward to the lowest.

But perhaps you are saying that I am taking too much for granted.
Perhaps you think that it is not true that there is not one of the very
least of the great human family who is not every day exercising some
personal influence for good or evil upon the world. If you think so,
boys and girls, or older people, you are mistaken. No human being can
escape from the world’s atmosphere. Though you fly to the uttermost
parts of the sea or hide in the depths of the dense city, some life is
affected by your life. Not only some life is affected by your life, but
many lives are affected by your life. It is a thought of this kind that
Charles Dickens beautifully expresses in his story called “David
Copperfield.” He says:

“There is nothing--no, nothing--beautiful and good that dies and is
forgotten. An infant, a prattling child, dying in his cradle, will live
again in the better thoughts of those who loved it, and plays its part,
though its body be burned to ashes or drowned in the deepest sea. There
is not an angel added to the hosts of heaven but does its blessed work
on earth in those who loved it here. Dead! Oh, if the good deeds of
human creatures could be traced to their source, how beautiful would
even death appear. For how much charity, mercy, and purified affection
would be seen to have their growth in dusty graves!”

No, children, it is no idle dream, no fancy story that I tell when I say
that the humblest member of the human family, as well as the highest, is
exercising daily, whether he is conscious of it or not, some influence
for good or evil upon the world. Viewed in this light who can measure
the possibilities--the divine possibilities--that are wrapped up in
little boys and girls? Viewed in this light, how the slightest action,
the smallest of our little duties, takes on new importance! It was with
this thought in mind that James A. Garfield said: “I feel a profounder
reverence for a boy than a man. I never meet a ragged boy on the street
without feeling that I owe him a salute, for I know not what
possibilities may be buttoned up under his shabby coat.” Yes, boys and
girls, by every brave and cheerful effort that we put forth we are
reforming, uplifting, renewing, inspiring, hearts and souls we never
heard of, never knew, the whole world becoming stronger for every bit of
moral courage we create, sweeter for every kindly look we give, and
holier for every good deed we do. And, of course, the contrary is true.
When we fail, when we come short, when we sin, the consequences are not
ours alone--they extend to all humanity. We are all, white and black,
rich and poor, old and young, male and female, children of one family.
Just as the quivering circles from a pebble thrown into a lake stretch
on and on from shore to shore, so the silent impulse of a single life
thrills from heart to heart until the very edges of humanity are

There is another reason still why we should be true, trustworthy, brave.
That reason is that somebody else takes us as his ideal--his standard.
Poor as we are, weak as we are, as unworthy as we are, somebody else is
looking up to us--especially those of us who have been favored with
educational advantages and opportunities. And you know that the failure
of one who is invested in another’s mind with ideal qualities is a
failure beyond the actual. That is one reason why people say that, as a
rule, a preacher’s children are the worst children in the world. As a
matter of fact, they are not the worst children in the world; but, being
the children of preachers, everybody expects more of them than of
others,--they are taken as ideals, as standards--that’s all. And what
might be excused in others will not be excused in one who is taken as an
ideal. Nathaniel Hawthorne, one of America’s greatest writers, in
speaking of this truth says in his story called “The Marble Faun:”

“The character of an individual beloved one having invested itself with
all the attributes of right--that one friend being to us the symbol and
representative of whatever is good and true,--when he falls, the effect
is almost as if the sky fell with him, bringing down in chaotic ruin the
columns that upheld our faith. We struggle forth again, no doubt bruised
and bewildered. We stare wildly about us, and discover--or it may be we
never make the discovery--that it was not actually the sky that has
tumbled down but merely a frail structure of our own rearing, which
never rose higher than the housetops, and has fallen because we founded
it on nothing. But the crash, and the affright and trouble are as
overwhelming, for the time, as if the catastrophe involved the whole
moral world. Remembering these things, let them suggest one generous
motive for walking heedfully amid the defilement of earthly ways. Let
us reflect that the highest path is pointed out by the pure ideal of
those who look up to us, and who, if we tread less loftily, may never
look so high again.”

Now, I have said my three words. You see they have stretched themselves
out to a great length, but I hope the boys and girls who read this book
may profit by them. Strive to be true, strive to be trustworthy, strive
to be brave. In the long run the prizes of this world, and of that which
is to come, are won by boys and girls of strong moral character, not by
those who are merely learned or rich. But, of course, I believe in
education and I believe in money. I think you ought to strive to obtain
both--both are useful, and both are necessary; but, with all your
getting, boys and girls, be sure to get those things which will reach
beyond this world and which will count for more than money or good looks
or education or any such thing when the world is on fire, when the moon
shall be turned into blood, when the trumpet sounds, and all must go to
stand before the Great King to give an account of the deeds done in the


Once upon a time, so it is said, a little ragged boy was carefully
printing these words with a stick upon the ground, “Thy word is a lamp
unto my feet.”

On looking up from his work, the little fellow was surprised to find a
kind-looking old man watching him.

“Where did you learn that, my boy?” asked the man.

“At Sunday-school, sir.”

“What’s your name?”


“So, Crawford, you learned that text at Sunday-school. Do you know what
it means?”

“No, sir.”

“What is a lamp?”

“A lamp? Why, sir, a lamp is a thing that gives light!”

“That’s correct. Well, what is the word that the text speaks of?”

“The Bible, sir.”

“That’s right. Now, how can the Bible be a lamp and give light?”

“I don’t know,” said the boy, “unless you light it and set it on fire.”

“There’s a better way than that, my lad. Suppose you were going down
some lonely lane on a dark night with an unlighted lantern in your hand,
and a box of matches in your pocket, what would you do?”

“Why, I’d light the lantern.”

“Why would you light it?”

“To show me the road, sir.”

[Illustration: “A LAMP UNTO MY FEET.”]

“Very well. Now, suppose you were walking behind me some day, and saw me
drop a quarter; what would you do?”

“Pick it up and give it to you, sir.”

“Wouldn’t you want to keep it yourself?”

Crawford hesitated; but he saw a smile on the old gentleman’s face,
and, smiling himself, he finally said:

“I should want to, sir; but I shouldn’t do it.”

“Why not?”

“Because it would be stealing.”

“How do you know?”

“It would be taking what wasn’t my own, and the Bible says we are not to

“Ah!” said the old man, “so it’s the Bible that makes you honest, is

“Yes, sir.”

“If you had not heard of the Bible you would steal, I suppose?”

“Lots of boys do,” said Crawford, hanging his head.

“The Bible, then,” continued the old man, “shows you the right and safe
path--the path of honesty, does it?”

“Like the lamp!” exclaimed Crawford, seeing now what all the old man’s
questions meant. “Is that what the text means?”

“Yes, my boy,” the man answered, “there is always light in the Bible to
show us where to go and what to do. Don’t you think it would be a good
thing to take the Bible, the good old lamp, and let it light you right
through life?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Do you think you will be safer with it?”

“Yes, sir.”


“Because if I’m honest I will never go to prison.”

“And what else?” asked the man.

Crawford thought awhile. By-and-by he said,--

“If I mind the Bible I shall go to heaven when I die.”

“Yes, and that’s the best reason for taking the lamp. It will light you
right into heaven.”


There are three brigades, or three little companies, which I think ought
to be organized among the boys and girls in every Sunday-school in
America. Can’t you form them in your Sunday-school? It is a very simple
matter. It will not cost any money: only a little time and forethought,
and a will to do. One brigade is called the Rainy-Weather Brigade, and
all the little boys and girls who join this company pledge themselves to
go to Sunday-school every Sunday, when they are not sick, even if it is
raining. The second brigade is called the Front Seat Brigade, and all
the members of this company pledge themselves to occupy front seats in
the Sunday school during the opening exercises before they pass to their
classes. The third brigade is called the On-Timers’ Brigade, and the
children in this brigade pledge themselves to be present on time at the
opening hour.


You can see at once how helpful these little brigades are in every
Sunday school (where they exist) to the officers and teachers. Some
children will not go to Sunday school when it is raining or when it
threatens to rain; some will not go forward and occupy front seats when
they do go; and there are others who are always tardy. What a blessing
it would be if all the little children would organize these brigades at
once in their schools, and try to get every scholar to join each one of


Go with me, boys and girls, to the gay streets and gilded saloons of the
great city of Paris far across the sea. Here is said to be the centre of
all the world’s follies and pleasures. It is at night.

An American, who has left his home and native land to view the splendors
of the wicked city, is passing along the street. He has beheld with
delight its paintings, its sculpture, and the grand and graceful
proportions of its buildings. In the midst of his keenest happiness,
when he was rejoicing most over the privileges which he possessed,
temptation assailed him. Sin was presented to him in one of its most
bewitching garbs, and he yielded to the voice of the siren. He drank
wildly and deeply of the intoxicating cup, and his draught brought
madness. Reason was overthrown and he rushed out, all his scruples
overcome, careless of what he did or how deeply he became immersed in
the hitherto unknown sea of guilt.

The cool night air settled damp and heavy upon his heated brow. Walking
on and on, not knowing or caring where he went, by-and-by strains of
music from a distance met his ear. Pretty soon, following in the
direction from which the sounds came, he was able to distinguish the
words and air of the piece. The song was well remembered. It was “Home,
Sweet Home.” Clear and sweet the voice of some singer, using his native
tongue, rose and fell on the air; and the poor wild man stopped and
listened to the soft cadences of that beloved melody.

[Illustration: HOME, SWEET HOME.]

Motionless he stood until the last note floated away, and he could hear
nothing but the ceaseless murmur of the great city. Then he turned away
slowly, with no feeling that his manhood was shamed by the tear which
fell as a bright evidence of the power of song, and also as an evidence
that he, the guilty sinner, was not yet absolutely lost beyond recall.

The demon of the wine cup had fled, and reason once more asserted her
right to control. As the soft strains of “Home, Sweet Home” had floated
to his ear, memory brought up before him the picture of his own “sweet
home.” He saw his gentle mother and heard her speak, while honest pride
beamed from her eye; she seemed to speak again of her son, in whose
nobleness and honor she could always trust. His heart smote him as he
thought how little he deserved such confidence. He remembered her last
words of love and counsel, and the tearful farewell of all those dear
ones who gladdened that far-away home with their presence. The tide of
remorse swept over his soul as he thought of what the sorrow of those at
home would have been could they have seen him but an hour before.
Subdued and penitent he retraced his steps, and with his vow never to
taste of the terrible stuff that could so excite him to madness there
was mingled a deep sense of thankfulness for his escape from further
degradation. The influence of home had protected and shielded him,
although the sea rolled between.

How strong such memories are to prevent the commission of crime! How
powerful is the spell of home! How important, then, is it to make home
pleasant and lovable! Many a time a cheerful home and smiling face will
do more to make good men and good women than all the learning and
eloquence that can be used. It has been said that the sweetest words in
our language are “Mother, Home and Heaven”; and one might almost say
that the word “Home” included the others. Who can think of home without
remembering the gentle mother who sanctified it by her presence? And is
not “Home” the dearest name for heaven? Oh, then, may our homes on earth
be as green spots in the desert, to which we can retire when weary of
the cares of life and drink the clear waters of a love which we know to
be sincere and always unfailing.

  “Mid pleasures and palaces
  Though far we may roam,
  Be it ever so humble
  There’s no place like Home.”

[Illustration: LITTLE SOLDIER BOYS.]


Never think yourself, whoever you are, of small importance. Never think
that it is of little account whether you are good or bad, or what your
example is to others. Each mere particle of dust, every tiny grain of
sand, the minutest atom, is an active agent in the whole universe. So
each one of us is of importance in our sphere, however isolated and
insignificant that sphere may appear to be.

A few particles of dust in a watch will stop its motion; small barnacles
on a ship’s bottom will hinder its journey; and a little shifting sand
in the great river will change its current. So, little boys and girls
exercise their influence for weal or woe upon the world. Don’t you
believe for once that the world is moved only by the great forces, the
great men and the great enterprises. Little folks and little things
likewise help to move the world along. Great generals are necessary; but
what would they be without the soldiers behind them?

Every boy has his part to do in the great work of the world, and every
girl has her part to do. Every boy and girl is of importance; how
important nobody knows, and perhaps never shall know until eternity
reveals it. There ought to be in this truth great encouragement and
great comfort to all who think that they are insignificant and have no
work to do in this busy world. Perhaps in the distant future many a man
who estimated himself great shall be found to have been insignificant,
because of unfaithfulness to his trust; and many another man who perhaps
thought himself of little worth will find himself glorified because he
did what he could.

[Illustration: THE POETRY OF LIFE]

Poetry is more than verse-making, more than the jingle of words, more
than the sing-song of meter.

Sunshine and flowers, brightness and joyousness, the harmonies of the
passions and the inspiration of love-these are the poetry of life.

Without poetry, life is a tread-mill; a veil of tears; a dreary waste.
Even religion is only a crucifixion--a death to sin--if we have not the
resurrection into the new life of joy.

Many of us make hard work of life by bending our backs too much. We get
dirt in our eyes by keeping them too near the dust, and we get
narrow-minded and selfish by our narrow radius of vision.

To become truly rich we must stand in the dignity of our manhood; walk
in the integrity of our calling; and run in the rhythm of a poetic
nature. Out of harmony is out of sphere. The dignity, integrity and
poetry of life are all lost by inharmony; only the ashes of
disappointment are left; but with these we can dance at our work, and
turn irksome duties into joyous privileges. Instead of moping in the
valley of the shadow of death, we may live in the sunshine, where
beautiful flowers and luscious fruits and delicious sweets grow.

Yes; yes; we might as well live in light as in darkness; make life a
joyful song as a funeral dirge; live amid glory as shame. With a radiant
countenance, a beaming eye, and a loving hand, we can do more work and
have more to do; we can get more out of life and have more life to
enjoy; we can scatter more sunshine and have more left for ourselves.

Christ came to bring to every toiler, heaven. Let us get into it
quickly. It is here--and here only--that we find the poetry of life.


Of ten men who fail in life, nine men fail for want of zeal,
earnestness, courage, where one man fails for want of ability. This
half-heartedness, this lack of zeal, this timidity, this shrinking from
duty and hard tasks is seen on all sides and among all classes. But I
tell you, boys and girls, that the least enviable people in all the
world are those who think that nothing is particularly worth while, that
it does not matter much how a thing is done if it is only done with; who
dwaddle along in a shabby sort of a way, considering only their own
ease, with little sense of responsibility, and with no shame in being
shirks. Every boy should make up his mind to live a round, full,
earnest, intense life. Every girl should do the same. Don’t be
satisfied, boys and girls, to be jellyfishes, with only a capacity for
drawing in nourishment and lingering on until your time comes to die. Be
vertebrates, people of backbone, purpose, aim, enthusiasm, earnestness.

At a public dinner President Roosevelt asked Governor Odell of New York
if he knew anything worth doing that was not hard in the doing, and the
governor could think of nothing. As a rule perhaps there is nothing, and
yet things once hard in the doing become easy as skill is gained by
repetition. Be in earnest, be faithful and resolute, and it will act
like a tonic, giving light to the eyes, springiness to the step, and
buoyancy to the heart.

[Illustration: BEING IN EARNEST.]

Don’t be overcome by your circumstances. No matter how distracting a
man’s surroundings may be, he may yet be able to focus his powers
completely and to marshal them with certainty if he makes up his mind to
do it. If things go hard with the self-mastered man or boy, he will be
able to trample upon difficulties and to use his stumbling-blocks as
stepping-stones. If a great misfortune overtake him he will simply use
it as a starting point for a new departure, a turning point for more
determined effort. He may be weighed down with sorrow and suffering, but
he always starts anew with redoubled determination to do the thing he
has set his heart upon doing. He will not be discouraged; he will not
give up; he will fight it out to the end. Put him in prison, and he will
write the “Pilgrim’s Progress.” Deprive him of his eyesight and he will
write the “Paradise Lost.”

It was the spirit of earnestness which fired the soul of Martin Luther
at the Diet of Worms, who, after being urged to recant, said: “Here I
stand; I can do no other; God help me!” It was this spirit which
characterized William Lloyd Garrison, the champion of the abolition of
slavery, who, when he was urged to stop fighting slavery, exclaimed: “I
will not equivocate, I will not retract, I will not be moved one inch,
and I will be heard.” So be in earnest, boys and girls, at home, at
school, at work and at play. It will help you a thousand-fold.


Every little boy and girl, and, of course, every man and woman, of the
colored race in America should carry a life insurance policy of some
kind in some reliable company. In this matter the old people, as in some
other things, ought to set the example for the young, but there are some
reasons, growing chiefly out of their previous condition of slavery, why
our mothers and fathers have not, as a rule, taken very largely to the
business of having their lives insured. But because our parents have
been negligent in this matter there is no reason why the younger
generation should be. Life insurance is a good thing, boys and
girls--one of the best things in the world. American life insurance
companies alone pay to policy-holders or estates of policy-holders over
one hundred million dollars annually. Only a very small and almost
insignificant portion of this vast sum goes into the hands of colored
people, and for the reason that very few colored people carry life
insurance policies.

[Illustration: TAKING OUT A POLICY.]

Now use a little common sense about this matter. Whatever is good in
life insurance for other races is good for our race; whatever in life
insurance benefits other races will benefit our race. In business as in
education, whatever is good for a white man is good for a black man. I
would, therefore, urge every boy and girl to join a life insurance
company, and where your mothers and fathers are not insured I would urge
you to do your utmost to persuade them to join at once.

For one reason, a life insurance policy is not expensive. You might as
well talk of the expense of buying bank stock, or the expense of putting
your money into a savings bank or any other safe place as to speak of
the expense of keeping up a life insurance policy. It is accumulation
and not expense. Every dollar put into life insurance is a dollar saved
to yourself or your estate.

For another reason life insurance is a good business investment.
Carefully collected statistics on file in Washington City prove that
investments in life insurance are much safer and yield much larger
returns than money placed in a savings bank. When you are older you will
perhaps be able to make these comparisons for yourself. For the present
you can take my word for it.

A third reason, life insurance is cheap. You can in an instant create a
capital of $1,000, though you may be ever so poor, by laying aside only
a few cents a week. Young people chew up and drink up and smoke up and
frolic up more money every week than would be sufficient to protect them
against the rainy days that must come to everybody.

And, then, life insurance has a character value. It makes a young man a
better man; it makes a young woman a better woman; that is to say, it
makes them more economical, more business-like, happier, and, I believe,
it will make them live longer.

It is high time that black boys and girls were learning these things and
acting upon them. When God commanded us not to serve money as a false
god He did not say that money could not serve us, and I beseech the boys
and girls, and the old people too, to exercise the same foresight and
the same good sense about life insurance that other races exercise.


In September, 1893, grouped on the Fall River Line pier at the foot of
Warren Street, New York, there stood a party of twenty-three sailors
waiting for the Puritan to take them on to Boston. The central figure in
the group--a short, thickset man, with bronzed and grizzled
moustache--stood erect with arms folded over his chest. Upon the solid
foundation thus made nestled a little white kitten. The man and the
kitten were the Boston contingent of the crew of the steamship City of
Savannah, which had been wrecked the week before on Hunting Island, off
the South Carolina coast.

[Illustration: THE LITTLE SAILOR CAT.]

The story of the beaching of the steamship and of the taking off of her
crew by the City of Birmingham had been told in all the newspapers, but
nothing had been said about the cat, so the Boston Herald said. Before
the shipwreck the cat was nothing more than an ordinary ship’s cat, and
the captain had named him Mascot; but that was the end of his
distinction. After the disaster, nevertheless, all the sailors swore
that the kitten was as good a sailor as any of them.

“He’s a wonder,” said the short, thickset man, surveying the cat
proudly; “nobody thought of him in the rush, but he got there just the
same. He climbed the rigging in that gale like an old tar and held on
for hours. He wasn’t a bit frightened either. Only he would ‘caterwaul’
when he got hungry. We were on board of the boat fifty hours after she
struck before the sea was such that we could be taken off in boats. At
night the captain ordered all the crew into the rigging and made us stay
there. We each took a piece of rope and lashed ourselves on, so as to
keep from falling off when asleep. That’s what the captain said the
string was for, but I never slept at all. I don’t think many others did.
The cat got along without any rope, and she was there in the morning all
right. When we got away at last, nearly crazy with thirst and so faint
that we could hardly climb down the ‘Jacob’s ladder’ into the
Birmingham’s boats, that little fellow climbed out of his nest in the
rigging and wanted to go too. We were glad to take him.”

[Illustration: Advice to Little Christians]

1. Be punctual and regular at all the services of your church.

2. Give close attention to the pastor in the public service. Good
hearers make good preachers.

3. Whenever you are aided by a sermon tell the pastor about it. In this
way you will help him more than you think possible.

4. Do not neglect morning and evening prayer at home. Pray daily for
God’s blessing upon the preaching and other labors of the pastor.

5. In the world let your light so shine before others that they may be
led to glorify your Father which is in heaven. Let your light shine.

6. Invite your friends to attend divine services. A drawing congregation
is as good as a drawing preacher. Call for your friends often.

7. Remember day by day that you are not your own, but have been “bought
with a price,” and that you are Christ’s servant. Watch and pray.

8. If any service is required of you in the church or in the Sunday
school, do not shirk it; always say: “I will try for Jesus’ sake.”

9. In the prayer meeting speak briefly and to the point. If you pray,
ask only for what you want. Be short and direct. “Ask and ye shall

10. Never subscribe more than you are able to pay, and be sure to pay
whatever you promise. Whether much or little, give it cheerfully. “God
loveth a cheerful giver.”

11. Having found eternal life, use all appropriate means to develop
Christian character. Prayer, reading the Bible, attending church and
Sunday school, reading good books and Christian newspapers, keeping the
best company--all these will help you.


[Illustration: “THE DRUMMER BOY AND HIS DOG.”]

Children are a gift from God. Children are a heritage from the Lord. It
depends largely on parents whether they become a heritage of honor and
delight or of sorrow and shame. It is not simply incumbent upon parents
that their children be well cared for, fed and clothed, properly
educated and so forth; but more than this, they are to be brought up “in
the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” This being true, then, the
highest aim of rearing children is not simply that they may win success
and command respect in the world. Respect and success are greatly to be
desired and sought, but beyond them and beyond everything else is the
highest and chiefest aim of parental love and care; that their children
may honor and command the righteousness of God in the life that now is
and magnify the glory of God in the life that is to be. This is the mark
and prize of their high calling.


Admitting this, then, the early conversion of children is all-important.
But if they are to be early converted, is it not wise--nay, absolutely
essential--that mothers and fathers prepare the way by restricting their
natural impulses by which they are led to desire indulgence in the gay
vanities of life? Is it not positively wrong for parents to indulge that
pernicious and destructive delusion, which some allow, of permitting
their children to have their own evil way in the hope that in due time
they will in some way see their error and turn to the right path of
their own accord? Father, you are a Christian. Mother, you are a
Christian. Now, in your home, in the management of your children, are
you doing the best you can to show what a Christian family should be?
How is it, my friends? I leave that question with you.


Carl Brickermann, a collection clerk in an uptown bank, in his
accustomed daily routine found it necessary, among other things, to call
by telephone the downtown brokerage firm of Hopegood & Co. One day he
missed the familiar feminine voice which had usually responded to his
calls. But the new voice seemed sweeter and much more passionately
penetrating. For two or three days Brickermann was puzzled, not only
because of the change at the other end of the ’phone, but also because
of the strange and unaccountable fascination which the new voice
possessed for him. At length one day, almost in desperation, he turned
aside from his regular business inquiries to ask:

“Where’s the other girl?”

“Which other girl?” asked the mellifluous voice over the articulate

“The one who used to answer the ’phone for the Hopegoods,” explained

“Promoted,” came the response, with a merry little laugh.

“And you have her old place?” asked Brickermann, somewhat encouraged.

“Yes; for awhile,” said the same still, small voice at the other end,
and it sounded more and more sweetly to the would-be masher.

“Well,” said Brickermann, laughing the while, “I used to know her quite
well, and I should like to meet you face to face, if you don’t mind, I
am so charmed with the music of your voice I am sure I should be
perfectly entranced with the magic of your face.”

[Illustration: “IS ER-ER-MR. HOPEGOOD IN?”]

A merry peal of laughter from the other end greeted this sally. The
young man continued:

“I used to come down some days about four o’clock to see Margie. Will
you, my Unseen Charmer, grant me the same high favor?”

“Why, certainly! Come any day,” answered the sweet voice which had so
strangely bewitched the young man. In ecstasy Brickermann shouted back:

“I’ll be down this afternoon.”

Brickermann hung up the receiver, and, chuckling with delight, he turned
to his other duties with the alacrity that a young spring chicken
displays when it suddenly discovers a big fat worm.

By three-thirty o’clock he had arranged his toilet, and stood before the
mirror giving the finishing twirl to his budding moustache. He brushed
his clothing the second time, brushed his hat, and, figuratively
speaking, arrayed in purple and fine linen, he sallied forth. He boarded
an elevated train bound for the downtown district. On his way down he
tried to picture to himself the kind of a girl he should meet at the
Hopegoods. Would she be tall or short of stature? Blonde or brunette?
Above twenty-one years of age or only sweet sixteen? The quick arrival
of the train at Park Place put a period to Brickermann’s reverie. He
went tripping across a few blocks to the place where all of his hopes
had been centered during the past few hours--in fact, days. Arrived
there, he stepped into the front office where “Margie” had formerly
presided. It was the same snug and cosy room, but he failed to behold
there the eagerly expected young lady. Instead he ran amuck a chubby
little boy, with a ruddy face and curly hair, and perhaps not more than
fourteen or fifteen years old, sitting in “Margie’s” place.

Brickermann was visibly embarrassed. He did not know where to begin or
what to say. He twitched nervously at the glove which he carried in his
hand, and finally he stammered:

“Is--er--Mr. Hopegood in?”

“No, sir,” said the boy. “Can I be of any service to you?”

Brickermann’s face turned blood red, and great drops of perspiration
stood out upon his forehead. The accents of the little boy startled him,
for they were the same that had been wafted to him almost daily along
the wire and with which he thought he had been enamored. In the midst of
his confusion he managed to say, hoping almost against hope that his
identity had not been discovered:

“Well, er--er--I’ll call again.”

And, without waiting to hear the Unseen Charmer speak again, he hastily
retired with as good grace as was possible under the circumstances.


Boys and girls, we are all American citizens, the last one of us. This
is our country, as much as it is the country of any other race, and we
should love it and fight for it as our fathers have loved, fought and
died for it on many a battlefield. We may be the descendants of
Africans, but we are citizens of the United States. This is our
home--our country. Let us believe it, in spite of what some foolish
people say. Therefore I am going to give you one or two sentiments which
you should learn early in life in order to stimulate your patriotism.

1. May the honor of our country be without stain.

2. May the glory of America never cease to shine.

3. May every American manfully withstand corruption.

4. May reverence for the laws ever predominate in the hearts of the
American people.

5. The sons and daughters of America, may their union be cemented by
love and affection, and their offspring adorn the stations they are
destined to fill.

6. May the growth of the American union never be prevented by party

7. The boys of America, may they be strong and virtuous, manly and

8. The girls of America, may they prove to be such in heart and life as
will make them worthy mothers of a strong and noble race.

9. Health to our president, prosperity to our people, and may Congress
direct its endeavors to the public good.


  May Peace o’er America spread her wing,
    And Commerce fill her ports with gold;
  May Arts and Science comfort bring,
    And Liberty her sons enfold.


About the worst girl in all this world is the girl who doesn’t care what
people think or say about her conduct; the girl who goes to every “hop,”
to every party, who stays out late at night with the boys, who hangs
over the gate and talks to them, and who cuts a number of foolish
capers, and then when any one speaks to her, shoots her head ’way up in
the air, and turns up her nose, if she can, and says boldly: “Oh, I
don’t care; nobody has anything to do with me!” She is the worst girl in
the world, and she will never come to any good end. Every girl who is a
law unto herself in regard to all that she says or does is certain not
only to bring upon herself the condemnation of those whose good opinion
it is worth while to have, but she will most certainly incur the
punishment of a just God. And sometimes, I am sorry to say, I think that
when a girl proudly declares that she doesn’t care for the good opinion
of others she does so because she knows that she has already lost all
right to that good opinion.

[Illustration: THE “DON’T-CARE” GIRL.]

It is wrong, boys and girls, to undertake to run roughshod over the
so-called prejudices of the public. It is a foolish thing to take
delight in trying to shock people by your boisterous and unladylike and
unbecoming conduct. Every really wise and nice girl does care a good
deal for the good opinion of others, and particularly for the good
opinion of persons older than she is. She recognizes the fact that the
laws of conventionality and of good society are based upon what is right
and what is proper, and that no girl can with propriety set them at

Some girls go so far as to say that they “don’t care” what their own
fathers and mothers think. The wild girl who says this is setting at
defiance not only the human parental law, but also the law of God, which
plainly commands children to obey their parents.

Haven’t you ever seen a “don’t-care” girl? She is nearly always reckless
in manner and speech; she is bold and defiant; she is impudent beyond
mention; and she is very fond of ridiculing girls who do care a great
deal what others think about them.

No matter whose children they are--no matter what schools they have
attended--these “don’t-care” girls are no good, and good girls ought not
to associate with them. Every day such flippant girls are treading on
dangerous ground, and some day, unless a merciful God prevents it, she
will come to open disgrace and die and go to torment. I am hoping to see
the day when all the “don’t-care” girls will have passed out of
existence, and then all our girls will be of the refined and womanly
kind who do care a great deal about their conduct, their manners and
their morals. I don’t want my daughter to associate with any other


  As the potter moulds the clay,
  Slowly, gently, day by day,
  Till at length he brings to pass
  Beauty from a shapeless mass;

  So, dear Lord, with patient art,
  Take Thou, now, my forward heart,
  And, O Lord, in love divine,
  Mould and make me wholly thine.


Shortly before he died Frederick Douglass made a tour through the South.
Among other places he visited Atlanta University. At that place he made
an address to the young people. It is so full of hope and help that I
wanted to place it where every ambitious black boy and girl in America
can see it. It has never been published before, except in the Bulletin
of Atlanta University. Mr. Douglass said:


“My young friends: I see before me an assemblage of young people, full
of the blood of youth, just entering upon the voyage of life. It is an
interesting spectacle to me, as to us all, to meet such an assembly as I
see before me this morning in an institution of learning, of knowledge,
and of ethics and of Christian graces. I experience great pleasure in
what I see to-day. There is no language to describe my feelings. It was
no mere image that John saw and described in the apocalypse. It was a
new heaven and a new earth indeed. When I look back upon the time when I
was a fugitive slave I recollect the evils and cruelty of
slave-hunting. No mountain was so high, no valley was so deep, no glen
so secluded, no place so sacred to liberty that I could put my foot upon
it and say I was free! But now I am free! Contrasting my condition then
and now the change exceeds what John saw upon the isle of Patmos. A
change vast and wonderful, that came by the fulfilling of laws. We got
freed by laws, marvellous in our eyes. Men, brave men, good men, who had
the courage of their convictions, were arrested and subjected to
persecutions, mobs, lawlessness, violence. They had the conviction of
truth. Simple truth lasts forever!

“Be not discouraged. There is a future for you and a future for me. The
resistance encountered now predicates hope. The negro degraded,
indolent, lazy, indifferent to progress, is not objectionable to the
average public mind. Only as we rise in the scale of proficiency do we
encounter opposition. When we see a ship that lies rotting in the
harbor, its seams yawning, its sides broken in, taking water and
sinking, it meets with no opposition; but when its sails are spread to
the breeze, its top-sails and its royals flying, then there is
resistance. The resistance is in proportion to its speed. In Memphis
three negro men were lynched, not because they were low and degraded,
but because they knew their business and other men wanted their

“I am delighted to see you all. Don’t be despondent. Don’t measure
yourselves from the white man’s standpoint; but measure yourselves by
the depths from which you have come. I measure from these depths, and I
see what Providence has done. Daniel Webster said in his speech at the
dedication of Bunker Hill monument: ‘Bunker Hill monument is completed.
There it stands, a memorial of the past, a monitor of the present, a
hope of the future. It looks, speaks, acts!’ So this assembly is a
monitor of the present, a memorial of the past, a hope of the future. I
see boys and girls around me. Boys, you will be men some day. Girls, you
will be women some day. May you become good men and women, intelligent
men and women, a credit to yourselves and your country.

“I thank you for what I have experienced to-day and I leave you
reluctantly, and shall always carry with me the pleasantest impressions
of this occasion.”


He was a good fellow.

He spent his money like a Prince.

There was nothing too good for him to do for those with whom he kept

He lived rapidly, and had no thought of to-morrow. He burned the candle
of life at both ends.

To-day he is dead,--and those vampires who sucked his life’s blood and
helped him to spend his money have no time to give him one thought.

Ah, how insincere and empty is the title of “good fellow” when it is
applied to the man whose money is always on tap for those who are
desirous of having a good time! And how corrupt and undesirable are the
so-called friendships which spring from a lavish expenditure of money!
Boys, the roof over your heads covers the best friends you could
possibly have on earth. Those who slap you on the shoulder and say
hilariously, “Good boy!” are seldom ever worth their salt. They like you
for what they can get out of you--that’s all!

Real happiness in this world comes, if at all, from living right and
doing right. If you are a good fellow in the sense of giving everybody a
“good time” with your hard-earned means, I warn you that, when your
money gives out, all your friends will desert you, and when you die
they will be the last ones to come near you, and may even laugh at what
a fool you made of yourself!


My dear boys and girls, I have written nearly one hundred stories for
this book and I have not said one word about the so-called Race Problem.
I have done this on purpose. I believe that the less you think about the
troubles of the race and the less you talk about them and the more time
you spend in hard and honest work, believing in God and trusting him for
the future, the better it will be for all concerned. I know, of course,
that the sufferings which are inflicted upon the colored people in this
country are many and grievous. I know that we are discriminated against
in many ways--on common carriers, in public resorts and even in private
life. The right to vote is being taken away from us in nearly all the
Southern states. Lynchings are on the increase. Not only our men but our
women also are being burned at the stake. What shall we do? There are
those who say that we must strike back--use fire and torch and sword and
shotgun ourselves. But I tell you plainly that we cannot afford to do
that. The white people have all the courts, all the railroads, all the
newspapers, all the telegraph wires, all the arms and ammunition and
double the men that we have. In every race riot the negro would get the
worst of it finally. But there is a higher reason than that. We cannot
afford to do wrong. We cannot afford to lose our decency, our
self-respect, our character. No man will ever be the superior of the man
he robs; no man will ever be the superior of the man he steals from. I
would rather be a victim than a victimizer. I would rather be wronged
than to do wrong. And no race is superior to the race it tramples upon,
robs, maltreats and murders. In spite of prejudice; in spite of
proscription; in spite of nameless insults and injuries, we cannot as a
race, afford to do wrong. But we can afford to be patient. God is not
dead. His chariots are not unwheeled. It is ordained of God that races,
as well as individuals, shall rise through tribulations. And during this
period of stress and strain through which we are passing in this country
I believe that there are unseen forces marshalled in the defense of our
long-suffering and much-oppressed people. “They that be with us are more
than they that be with them.” What should we care, then, though all the
lowlands be filled with threats, if the mountains of our hope and
courage and patience are filled with horses and chariots of Divine


My last words shall be to parents. Many parents neglect the training of
their children until the boys and girls have grown to be almost men and
women, and then they expect all at once to develop them into
well-rounded characters, as if by magic. Others fix upon a definite time
in life--say, ten or twelve years old--before which time they say it is
unnecessary to seek to make lasting impressions upon the minds of
children, all unconscious of the fact that the character may have been
long before that period biased for good or evil.

I say it deliberately--it is a deep and abiding conviction with me, that
the time to begin to shape the character of children is as soon as they
begin to know their own mothers from other mothers, or as soon as they,
become awake to the events which are taking place around them. The
farmer who has the notion that his child can wait, does not dare to let
his corn and cotton wait. He has observed that there are noxious weeds
which spring up side by side with the seed he has planted, and,
marvelous to say, the weeds outgrow the plants. They must, therefore, be
cut down and kept down, or else they will ruin the crop.

Side by side with your tender babe in arms there are growing now, dear
mothers, the poisonous tares. They are rooted already in the child’s
heart, and, unless they are stricken down pretty soon, they will
dominate the child’s life. And, of course, there is only one way to
destroy evil--that is, to plant good in its stead. If there is one
untenanted chamber in your child’s heart, inhabit it, I pray you, with
nobler and purer thoughts which before long shall bring forth fruit unto
God. Satan does not wait, I assure you; he never allows a vacancy to
remain unoccupied in anybody’s heart, old or young. He rushes into empty
hearts and idle lives and sows tares thicker than the strewn leaves of
autumn. It is an old and senseless and barbarian custom which has taught
us that the child can wait or must wait. If anybody must wait at table
to be served, it is usually the little child, who may be the hungriest
of all; if some one must remain away from church or Sunday-school, it is
often the youngest child, who perhaps needs most to go; if some one must
be kept out of the day-school, it is the smallest child, of course; and
during the year that he remains idle he may receive impressions and
learn lessons that will mar his whole future life. Let us have done with
this barbaric practice. Make room for the children; give them not only
the first place but the best place.

In almost any city in the South any Sunday in the year you will find
more children--more boys and girls--outside of the Sunday-schools than
you will find inside. There is a loud and crying call sounding from the
past and from the future and bidding mothers and fathers to be more
diligent in the matter of having their children embrace opportunities of
growth and spiritual culture which are almost within a stone’s throw. If
mothers and fathers will not hear and obey this clarion call I believe
that they will be brought to account for it in the day of judgment. Not
only so, but in the years to come they will be compelled to wail out
their sorrow over prodigal sons and daughters who might have proven to
be ornaments to society and to the church if their parents had devoted
half the care upon them that they expended upon colts and calves,
kittens and puppies that grew up with them!

In all earnestness I implore those to whom God has given winsome little
children to begin early, as early as thy find it possible, to train
their young lives for God and heaven. Let their little voices learn
early to lisp the precious name of Jesus and be attuned to sing His
praise. If you leave them this legacy--than which there is none
greater--there will come peace and joy to your old age, and the light of
heaven, like the golden glow of a radiant sunset, will rest on your
dying bed.

And now, as I close these stories, there comes to me across the
intervening space of silence and of tears fond memories of a sweet and
patient mother. I cannot remember when she began to talk to me of Jesus
nor read to me the word of God. I remember well when she taught me how
to read, and the old-fashioned blue back spelling book is as plainly
before me now as in those long past days. But, long before that, I had
heard her read the Bible and raise her voice in prayer for all whom she
loved. And to-day those memories live when a thousand busy scenes of
after life lie dead. And when old age comes on--if God should spare me
to be old--the memory of my mother’s words and her reverential prayers
will be the brightest of all the joys that shall light up the evening of
my life.


  Transcriber’s Notes

  The language of the original publication has been retained, including
  unusual and inconsistent spelling, except as listed below.

  The cover image (the dust jacket of the source publication) and
  possibly some of the illustrations are for a combined edition of two
  different books; this e-text only contains the Short Stories for
  Colored People Both Old and Young.

  Depending on the hard- and software used not all elements may display
  as intended.

  Title page, The Gospel of Serv’ce and other Sermons: as printed in the
  source document.

  Page 31, ... that there were something ...: as printed in the source

  Page 65, Uncle Ned and the Insurance Solicitor: the source document
  has a footnote marker on this page, but no footnote. Possibly the
  footnote refers to an earlier, slightly different, publication of this
  story in Lippincott’s Magazine.

  Page 133, Henry Holt and David Oliver appear to be the same person.

  Changes made

  Footnotes have been moved to directly under the story in which they
  occur; illustrations have been moved out of text paragraphs.

  Some obvious minor typographical errors have been corrected silently.

  Page 216, the verse Gross Deception has been treated as a separate

  Page 263: illustration caption changed to small capitals as other

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