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The venerable Pritchard, for a thousand years, more
or less, head of the firm of Pritchard, Smead, & Raikes,
merchants, had finished his business on a pleasant
Saturday evening, in the summer before the beginning
of the present century, and retired to his old home-stead,
which he had occupied for a great number of
years, and which, like himself, was apparently strong
and good for many years to come. He had lived so
long in this house that it seemed as if he were a part of
it, and was in complete sympathy with its brick and
mortar components, though to all else it was a stupid
old pile enough, — a ghostly and ghoulish thing, — that
the timid heard strange sounds issue from, and hastened
by with all celerity. It was brimful of odd closets
and odd traps, the uses of which had outlived their
generation; and it was said that a secret communication
existed inside, with underground passages, conducting
to the garden behind the house, and that the house had,
in its day, served as the head-quarters of an expert
smuggler, who drove a lucrative business through the
medium of the viaduct aforesaid; though this was
merely a supposition, as, when the old house was pulled
down, to make way for a new block of granite stores,
no trace of the secret passage was to be found.

Mr. Pritchard entered his house, swinging the heavy
oaken door to behind him, which awakened dull echoes


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through the ancient fabric, hung his three-cornered hat
on a peg in the entry, and deposited his cane in its
accustomed corner. After which, he turned the brass
knob of the old parlor-door, and entered, his feet
making scarcely any sound upon the sand-strewn floor.
He seated himself in his arm-chair, to which he had
been long accustomed, and, laying back, seemed deep
in thought.

Mr. Pritchard had been what the world understands
by the term, a good man. He had been as honest as
circumstances would permit; had never been detected
in any flagrant violation of law or equity; his word had
long been law among the merchants of his day, and, at
the close of a long mercantile career, marked by some
shrewd speculations, including the purchase and sale of
a large amount of continental money, he was said to be
worth several hundred thousand dollars. He had not
wasted his substance in riotous living, nor in extensive
charities, though he gave freely at times to objects connected
with public benefit; and when collections were
taken in the church where he attended, the return of
the contribution-box from over the door of the faded
blue-lined wall-pew where he sat disclosed always a
bill lovingly hovering over the heads of the coppers
that lay at the bottom of it, the admiration of all who
saw it. Some said he was pharisaical about this; but
we know there are envious and slanderous people in
the world, and the very best of us are liable to
feel the force of their malignant and depreciating
remarks. With our statement of Mr. Pritchard's position
and acts, we leave him in the hands of the reader.
He has gone, long ago, with his faults and his virtues,
and the opinion of men cannot affect him one way or
the other.


Page 73

He had been several years a widower, his wife having
died in giving birth to his youngest child, who, at the
time of which we write, was about twelve years old, a
fair and sensitive boy, with a heart full of loving feeling
for every one, but especially for his father, who was
very dear to him, and who bestowed upon this, his
youngest born, as much love as a man absorbed by
business and the world can feel. The boy resembled
his mother, and in the old man's tender moments the
thoughts of her would stream down into his heart with
a touching influence, and invest her child with new
claims to his regard.

It was in one of these moods that Mr. Pritchard made
a will. He had drawn it up himself, and had it witnessed
by two men of substance, one of whom had
died, and had placed it away carefully, in a nook which
he knew, where it was to rest until called for, at his
death. There was nothing unusual in this mode of
proceeding; but those who witnessed his signature —
those to whom he necessarily confided the secret of his
making the instrument — had not the most remote idea
of the character of its provisions, or who were to be
benefited thereby. But the angel that prompted the
will, and was looking over his shoulder when he wrote
it, one dark night, saw the pleased smile that mantled
his face as he recorded the name of his youngest son,
Henry — named for himself.

The two other boys, James and Thomas, were of a different
character from the youngest. James, the oldest,
possessed all his father's shrewdness and much of his own,
and he early showed a disposition to pursue a course
likely to make him a leading mind in the community.
He was ambitious and persistent, and not too regardful
of the rights of others; a disposition that had revealed


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itself in many acts of youthful littleness towards his
companions and playmates, which now, at twenty-one,
gave him the reputation of being the sharpest young
man in town. He had been with his father since he
had left school, and had become conversant with all the
modes of making money then existing. His only affection
for any one was through their money, and his
father formed no exception to the rule. The second
boy was a dreamer, and exhibited no business proclivities:
better content with a book and quiet, at sixteen,
than with all that the mart could afford, obtained
through strife and endeavor.

The only one of his sons to whom Mr. Pritchard made
any mention concerning a will was to his youngest, as
he stood by his knee the morning after.

“How shall I name you in my will?” said the old
man to him, patting him upon his head. “Shall I leave
you enough, so that when I die you will be rich, and
never have to work any, and will have plenty of servants,
and coaches, and pretty things, as you wish for

The boy looked up in his father's face, and his eyes
filled with tears, as he said he would rather work and
forego all that had been named, so that his father might
live; and the old man let the will remain where he had
placed it, and never referred to it again.

We left him in his arm-chair, with the house hushed
and still; and he was sitting with his head laid back,
deeply thinking, perhaps, of past times, and perhaps,
thinking of the future, towards which he was hastening.
His two boys were at school, his eldest son at the store,
and the housekeeper, who had filled that position for
many years, was in her chamber, in a remote part of the
old pile. Was Mr. Pritchard asleep, that he sat there


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so still? It was unusual for him to sleep thus;
but the weather was warm, and the cool air blew in
from the garden, freighted with the odor of flowers,
and imparted somniferous influences. He slept well
after the fatigues of the day, and his breathing was so
gentle that the ear was pained by the effort to catch the
tone of its rise and fall. His eyes were open, as if the
outward senses were still awake, though his weary
spirit was steeped in forgetfulness. Still he sat there
in the venerable chair, saved from other generations,
and moved not, though hour after hour crept by, and
the stroke of the old clock on the stairs proclaimed
the passing time. It was a waste of time for Mr. Pritchard
to sit thus, when there were many papers to adjust
before bed-time, and a letter upon the table, involving a
sale of many goods, must be answered before the morning

“Father!” cried a joyful voice, breaking the silence,

Mr. Pritchard moved not, though the voice was one
that he loved to hear when awake. How soundly he
slept, not to hear it!

“Father!” and Henry Pritchard, awed by the
silence, moved towards his father's chair, and placed his
hand upon the arm that lay extended upon the velvet
covering. A moment more, and his cries rang through
the house, and “Father is dead!” reverberated through
the still rooms like a voice in a tomb. Mr. Pritchard
slept the long sleep of death!

There was a great parade at the funeral. The bells
were tolled, and the flags upon the shipping were
hoisted at half-staff, and a long train of respectable
mourners followed the remains to their last resting-place.
A funeral sermon was preached upon the virtues


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of the deceased, and the papers of the day were
full of eulogies upon the great man fallen in Israel, and
elegiac poets sang his praises in the most approved
verse. His death pointed a moral for many discourses
for a long time, and was used beneficially to illustrate
the fact that the rich and the great must die as well as
the poor; and a superb monument was erected to his
memory, bearing upon its tablet the inscription, “An
honest man 's the noblest work of God.” Mr. Pritchard