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Page 126


I devoted my first leisure hour to a confidential visit to
Charley Rand. His smooth, amiable ways had done much
to make our intercourse closer than it ever had been at
school, though there was still something in his face which
led me occasionally to distrust him. His mottled gray
eyes, which could look at one steadily and sweetly, were
generally restless, and the mellowness of his voice sometimes
showed its want of perfect training by slipping into
a harsher natural tone. Besides, he was a little too demonstrative.
His habit of putting his hand on my shoulder
and commencing a remark with (emphasizing every word)
My — dear — friend,” made me feel uncomfortable.
Nevertheless, his presence in Reading was a satisfaction to
me, and I bestowed a great deal of friendly affection upon
him for the reason that there was no one else to whom I
could give it.

To him, then, I related all that had happened. The
habit of the future lawyer seemed to be already creeping
over him. He interrupted my narrative with an occasional
question, in order to make certain points clearer, and, when
I had finished, meditated a while in silence. “It 's a pity,”
he said at last, “that I 'm not already admitted to practice,
and sporting my own shingle. I should like to know your
uncle, anyhow: can't you introduce me?”

I felt a great repugnance to this proposal, and urged
Rand not to insist upon it.

“Oh, well,” said he, carelessly, “it 's of no consequence,


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except on your account. I 'm sure I have no inclination to
meet the old porpoise. But I 'd advise you to work along,
the best way you can, until you can get a better hook on
him than you have now.”

“No, Rand!” I interrupted, “my mind is made up. I
shall leave his house.”

In the course of the conversation Rand had managed to
extract from me the amount of my own little property, and
the disposition of the interest due the previous spring,
the greater part of which I had allowed my uncle to reinvest.
He also questioned me concerning the latter's fortune,
and seemed desirous to know a great many particulars
which had no apparent bearing on the present crisis
in my fortunes. Our talk ended, however, in my repeating
my determination to leave.

“I hoped, Rand,” I added, “that you could advise me
what to do. I can only think of two things, — teaching a
country school, or getting a situation in another store. Of
course, I should rather teach.”

“Then, if you are bent upon it, Godfrey, I think I can
help you. One of Mulford's clients, from Upper Samaria
township, — not far from Cardiff, you know, — was talking
about a teacher for their school, three or four days ago.
He 's a director, and has the most say, as he 's a rich old
fellow. I 'll tell Mulford to recommend you, if you 've a
mind to try it, and meanwhile you can write to Dr. Dymond
for a certificate of your fitness. If the plan succeeds —
and I don't see why it should n't — you may say good-bye
to the old porpoise in less than ten days.”

I seized Rand's hand and poured out my gratitude; here
was a way opened at once! I should have pleasant employment
for the winter, at least, and a little capital in the
spring to pursue my fortune further. The same evening I
wrote to Dr. Dymond, and in four days received a stiffly-worded
but very flattering testimony of my capacities. In
the beginning of the next week, Mulford's client, a Mr.


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Bratton, came again to Reading, and Rand was as good as
his word. He recommended me so strongly that Mr. B.
requested an interview, which was at once arranged. Rand
came for me, and we met in Mulford's back-office.

The director, upon whom my success mainly depended,
was a bluff, hearty man, with a pompous and patronizing
manner. “Ah, you are the young man,” he said, stretching
out his hand, and surveying me the while from head to
foot, — “should have liked a little more signs of authority,
— very necessary where there are big boys in the school.
However, Mine is not a rough neighborhood, — very much
in advance of Lower Samaria.”

I handed him Dr. Dymond's letter, which he ran through,
with audible comments; — “`promising scholar' — good,
but hardly enough for Me; — `thorough acquaintance with
grammar' — ah, very good — My own idee; — `talent for
composition,' `Latin,' — rather ornamental, ra-a-ther;
hem, `all branches of arithmetic' — that 's more like business.
A very good recommendation, upon the whole. How
much do you expect to be paid?”

I replied that I wanted no more than the usual remuneration,
admitting that I had never yet taught school, but
that I should make every effort to give satisfaction.

“We pay from twenty to twenty-five dollars a month,”
said he; “but you could n't expect more than twenty at the
start. You 're a pig in a poke, you know.”

This was not very flattering; but as I saw that no offence
was intended, I took none. Nay, I even smiled good-humoredly
at Mr. Bratton's remark, and thereby won his
good-will. When we parted, the engagement was almost

“For form's sake,” said he, “I must consult the other
directors; but I venture to say that My recommendation
will be sufficient. If you come, I shall depend upon you
to justify My selection.”

I now judged it necessary to inform my uncle of the contemplated


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step. I presume the idea of it had never entered
his head; his surprise was so great that he seemed
at a loss what course to take. When he found that both
opposition and ridicule were of no avail, he tried persuasion,
and even went so far as to promise me immunity from
persecution in religious matters.

“We will let that rest for the present,” said he. “My
ways a'n't your'n, though I 've tried to bring you to a proper
knowledge of your soul, for your own good. I promised
your mother I 'd do my dooty by you, but you don't seem
to take it in a numble spirit. But now you 're acquainted
with business, in a measure, and likely to turn out well if
you stick to it. I 'd always reckoned on paying you a selery
after you come of age; it 's a sort of apprenticeship
till then. And you 've a little capital, and can make it
more. I don't say but what I could n't take you, in the
course of time, as a pardner in the concern.”

I tried to explain that my taste and ambition lay in a
totally opposite direction, — that I neither could nor would
devote my life to the mysteries of the grocery business. It
required some time to make my uncle comprehend my sincerity.
He looked upon the matter as the temporary whim
of a boy. When, at last, he saw that my determination
was inflexible, his anger returned, more violently than at

“Go, then!” he cried; “I wash my hands of you! But
this let me tell you — look out for yourself till you 're
twenty-one! Not a penny of your money will I advance
till the law tells me, — and more, not a penny of mine will
you get when I die!”

These words roused an equal anger in my heart. I felt
myself turning white, and my voice trembled in spite of
myself as I exclaimed, “Keep your accursed money! Do
you think I would soil my fingers with it? Holy as you
are, and sinful as I am, I look down upon you and thank
God no mean thoughts ever entered my heart!”


Page 130

The breach was now impassable. I had cut off the last
bridge to reconciliation. Nothing more was said, and I
quietly and speedily made my preparations for leaving the
house. Bolty, whose manner had become exceedingly
mild and subdued since his conversion, did not seem much
surprised by the catastrophe. Perhaps he regretted the
loss of a companion, but his personal emotions were too
shallow to give him much uneasiness. I watched, with
some curiosity, to see whether he would still recommend
his patent-medicines in the accustomed style; but even
here he was changed. With an air of quiet gravity, he
affirmed, “The pills is reckoned to be very good; we sell
a great many, ma'am. Them that cares for their perishin'
bodies is relieved by 'em.”

This mode of recommendation seemed to be just as effectual
as the former.

Two days afterwards a note arrived from Mr. Bratton
and I left my uncle's house. There were no touching farewells,
and no tears shed except Aunt Peggy's, as she exclaimed,
“I would n't have believed it of you; but you 'll
rue it! — ts, ts, ts, ts, — you 'll rue it, too late!” In spite
of this evil prediction, I think she must have felt a little
shame at seeing her sister's child leave her doors in the
way I did.

A rude mail-coach took me as far as Cardiff, where I
left my trunk at the tavern, and set out on foot for the residence
of Mr. Bratton. It was Friday; I was to be presented
to the directors on Saturday, and to open school on
Monday. Upper Samaria was only three miles from Cardiff,
— the latter place, a village of some four hundred inhabitants,
being the post-office for the region round about.

It was a bright, cheery day. A bracing wind blew from
the northwest, shaking the chestnuts from their burrs and
the shell-barks from their split hulls. The farmers and
their men sat in the fields, each before his overturned
shock, and husked the long, yellow ears of corn. I passed


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a load of apples on their way to the cider-press, and the
sunburnt driver grinned with simple good-will as he tossed
me a ruddy “wine-sap.” Never before had I breathed so
exquisite an atmosphere of freedom. I stood at last on my
own independent feet, in the midst of the bright autumnal
world. Wind and sun, the rustling trees and the hastening
waters, the laborers looking up as I passed, and somewhere,
deep in the blue overhead, the Spirit that orders
and upholds every form of life, seemed to recognize me as
a creature competent to take charge of his own destiny.
On the hilltops I paused and stretched forth my arms like
a discoverer taking possession of new lands. The old continent
of dependence and subjection lay behind me, and I
saw the green shores of the free, virgin world.

Happy ignorance of youth that grasps life as a golden
bounty, not as a charge to be guarded with sleepless eyes
and weary heart! Surely some movement of Divine Pity
granted us that blindness of vision in which we only see
the bloom of blood on cheek and lip, not the dark roots
that branch below — the garlanded mask of joy hiding the
tragic mystery!

After a while the rolling upland over which I had been
wandering, sank gently towards the southeast into a broad,
softly outlined valley, watered by a considerable stream.
The landlord at Cardiff had given me minute directions,
so that when I saw a large mill-pond before me, with a race
leading to an old stone-mill, a white house behind two immense
weeping-willows on the left, and a massive brick
house on the right, across the stream, I knew that the latter
edifice must be the residence of Mr. (or “Squire”)
Septimus Bratton. The main highway followed the base
of some low, gradual hills on the left bank, and a furlong
beyond “Yule's Mill,” as the place was called, I noticed a
square, one-story hut, with pyramidal roof, which I was
sure must be the school-house. A little further, another
road came across the hills from the eastward, and at the


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junction there were a dozen buildings, comprising, as I
afterwards discovered, the store, blacksmith's and shoemaker's
shops, and the “Buck” Tavern, where, on electiondays,
the polls for Upper Samaria were held. Down the
stream, the view extended for two or three miles over rich
and admirably cultivated farm-land, interspersed with noble
tracts of wood, and with clumps of buttonwood- and ashtrees
along the course of the stream.

Mr. Bratton's house stood upon a knoll, commanding a
very agreeable view of the valley. It was a large cube of
red brick, with high double chimneys at each end, and a
veranda in front supported by white Ionic columns of
wood. A dense environment of Athenian poplars and silver-maples
buried the place in shade, while the enclosure
sloping down to the road was dotted with balsam-fir and
arbor-vitæ. The fact that this lawn — if it could be so
called — covered an acre of ground, and was grown with
irregular tufts of natural grass, instead of being devoted
to potatoes, indicated wealth. In the rear rose a huge
barn, with a stable-yard large enough to hold a hundred

I walked up a straight central path, trodden in the grass,
and ungravelled, to the front-door, and knocked. Footsteps
sounded somewhere within and then died away again.
After waiting ten minutes, I repeated the knocking, and
presently the door was opened. I beheld a lovely girl of
seventeen, in a pale green dress, which brought a faint rose-tint
to a face naturally colorless. Her light gray eyes rested
gently on mine, and I know that I blushed with surprise
and confusion. She did not seem to be in the least embarrassed,
but stood silently waiting for me to speak.

“Is Mr. Bratton at home?” I finally stammered.

“Pa and Ma have gone to Carterstown this afternoon,”
said she, in the smoothest, evenest, most delicious voice I
had ever heard. “They will be back soon; will you walk
in and wait?”


Page 133

“Yes, if you please,” I answered. “I think Mr. Bratton
expects me; my name is Godfrey.”

I am sure she had already guessed who I was. She betrayed
no sign of the fact, however, but demurely led the
way to a comfortable sitting-room, asked me to take a seat,
and retired, leaving me alone. I stole across the carpet to
a small mirror between the windows, straitened the bow of
my cravat, ran my fingers through my hair to give it a
graceful disposition, and examined my features one by one,
imagining how they would appear to a stranger's eye.

I had scarcely resumed my seat before Miss Bratton returned,
with a blue pitcher in one hand and a tumbler in
the other.

“Will you have a glass of new cider, Mr. Godfrey?”
she asked, dropping her eyes an instant. “It 's sweet,”
she added; “you can take it without breaking the pledge.”

“Oh, of course,” I answered; for, although I was not a
member of a Temperance Society, I thought she might be.
She stood near me, holding the pitcher while I drank, and
it seemed to me that there was a noise of deglutition in my
throat which might be heard all over the house.

She took a seat near the opposite window, with some sort
of net-work in her hand. I felt that it was incumbent on
me to commence the conversation, which I did awkwardly
enough, I suppose, her slow, even, liquid words forming a
remarkable contrast to my rapid and random utterances.
At length, however, I got so far as to inform her that I
hoped to teach in the neighboring school-house during the
coming winter.

“Ind-e-e-ed!” she exclaimed, in an accent of polite,
subdued interest. “Then we shall be neighbors; for I
suppose you will board at Yule's. All the schoolmasters

“The white house with the willows?”

“Yes. Mr. Yule is Pa's miller. He has been there
twenty years, I think Pa said. I 'm sure it was long before


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I was born. They are very respectable people, and it 's
nicer there than to board at `The Buck.' ”

I was about to reply that the choice of the directors
must be made before I could engage board anywhere, when
she interrupted me with, “Oh, there 's Pa's carriage just
turning the corner. Excuse me!” and walked from the
room with a swift, graceful step.

In a few minutes I heard a heavy foot, followed by a
rustling, along the veranda, and Mr. and Mrs. Septimus
Bratton entered the room. The former greeted me with
stately cordiality. “I see,” said he, “that you have already
made my daughter's acquaintance. My dear, this is Mr.
Godfrey, whom I have recommended as our teacher this

Mrs. Bratton, a sharp-featured little woman, swathed in
an immense white crape shawl, advanced and gave me her
hand. “How d' ye do, sir?” she piped, in a shrill voice;
“hope you 've not been kept long a-waiting?”

Then she and the daughter retired, and Mr. Bratton
flung his hat upon the table and sat down. “I guess
there 'll be no difficulty to-morrow,” he remarked; “I 've
seen Bailey, one of the directors, and he 's willing to abide
by Me. As for Carter, he thinks something of his learning,
and always has a few questions to ask; but we had a
poor shoat last winter, of his choosing, and so you 'll have
the better chance. You 'll board at Yule's, but you may as
well stay here till to-morrow, after we meet. 'T is n't good
luck to give a baby its name before it 's christened. You
can send up to Cardiff for your things when the matter is

We were presently summoned to the early tea-table of
the country. When Mrs. Bratton was about to take her
seat, her daughter murmured — oh, so musically! — “Let
me pour out, Ma — you must be tired.”

“Well, have your own way, 'Manda,” said the mother;
“you 'll be getting your hand in, betimes.”


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I was first served, the lovely Amanda kindly asking me,
“Shall I season your tea for you, Mr. Godfrey?”

It was the sweetest cup I had ever tasted.

“Where 's Sep?” suddenly asked Mr. Bratton.

“I 've sent out to the barn and down to the mill, but
they don't seem to find him,” his wife remarked.

“I 'll go to `The Buck,' then; but I won't go much

I saw wife and daughter suddenly glance at him, and he
said no more. But he was in a visible ill-humor. There
was a lack of lively conversation during the evening, yet to
me the time passed delightfully. Miss Bratton, I discovered,
had just returned from the celebrated School for
Young Ladies at Bethlehem, and was considered, in Upper
Samaria, as a model of female accomplishment. She had
learned to write Italian hand, to paint tulips and roses on
white velvet, to make wax-flowers, and even to play the
piano; and an instrument ordered by her father, at the immense
price of two hundred dollars, was then on its way
from Philadelphia. These particulars I learned afterwards
from Mrs. Yule. During that evening, however, I saw and
admired the brilliant bouquets in mahogany frames which
adorned the parlor-walls.

At nine o'clock, Mr. Bratton, who had already several
times yawned with a loud, bellowing noise, rose, took a candle,
and showed me to a large and very gorgeous chamber. The
bedstead had pillars of carved mahogany, supporting a canopy
with curtains, and I sank into the huge mass of feathers
as into a sun-warmed cloud. I stretched myself out in
all directions, with the luxurious certainty of not encountering
Bolty Himpel's legs, composed my mind to an unspoken
prayer, and floated into dreams where Aunt Peggy and
Miss Amanda Bratton had provokingly changed voices.

The next morning, at ten o'clock, the directors met at
the school-house. Mr. Bratton, who had charge of the key,
opened the shutters and let out the peculiar musty smell,


Page 136
suggestive of mould, bread and butter, and greasy spelling-books,
which had accumulated. He then took his seat at
the master's desk, and laid the proposal before Messrs.
Bailey and Carter. He read Dr. Dymond's letter of recommendation,
and finished by saying, “Mr. Godfrey, I believe,
is ready for any examination you may wish to make.”

Mr. Bailey remarked, in a sleepy voice, “I guess that 'll
do;” but Mr. Carter, a wiry, nervous little man, pricked
up his ears, stroked his chin, and said, “I 've got a few
questions to put. Spell `inooendo.'”

I spelled in succession the words “innuendo,” “exhilarate,”
“peddler,” and “pony,” to the gentleman's satisfaction,
and gave, moreover, the case of the noun “disobedience,”
in the first line of “Paradise Lost,” and the verb
which governed it. Then I calculated the number of
boards ten feet long, thirteen inches wide, and one inch
thick, which could be sawed out of a pine log three feet in
diameter and seventy feet long; then the value of a hundred
dollars, at compound interest, six per cent., for twenty
years; and, finally, the length of time it would take a man
to walk a mile, supposing he made ten steps, two feet long,
in a minute, and for every two steps forward took one step,
one foot long, backwards. I think Mr. Carter would have
been vexed if I had not made a mistake of three cents on
the compound interest question. Furthermore, I wrote on
a sheet of paper, “Avoid haughtiness of behavior and affectation
of manners,
” as a specimen of my penmanship, and
read aloud parts of a speech of Patrick Henry, from the
“Columbian Orator.” Geography and the various branches
of natural philosophy were passed over in silence, and I
was a little surprised that the fact of my never having
taught school before was not brought forward in objection.
After Mr. Carter had exhausted his budget of questions, I
was requested to step outside for a few minutes while the
directors consulted.

When Mr. Bratton called me, I saw by his slightly increased


Page 137
pomposity that I was accepted. His choice was
confirmed; and as the “poor shoat” of the previous winter
had been taken on Carter's recommendation, it was
now my patron's turn to triumph. My salary was fixed
at twenty-five dollars a month, and I was gratified to find
that my board and washing at Yule's would cost me but a
dollar and a half per week. This secured me the prospect
of a capital of some fifty or sixty dollars in the spring.

Mr. Bratton completed his patronage by presenting me
to the Yule family. The plain, honest face of the old miller
made a fatherly impression upon me, and Mrs. Yule, a
bustling, talkative woman, — a chronicle of all the past and
present gossip of the neighborhood, — accepted me as a
predestined member of the family. She had already put
“the master's room” in order, she said; it never went by
any other name in the house, and she allowed a fire in cold
weather, only “the master” always carried up his own
wood, and kindled it, and raked the ashes carefully before
going to bed; and Daniel was going to Cardiff that very
night for the paper, and he should take the light cart and
bring my trunk, — so I could stop then and there, while I
was about it. Which I did.

“Daniel” was the older son, — a tall, lusty fellow of
twenty-four. There was a younger, Isaac, about my own
age, and a daughter, Susan, between the two. I met the
whole family at dinner, and, before the meal was over, felt
that I was fast becoming an Upper Samaritan.