A NEW KIND OF FUN
A certain German nobleman provided his son with a tutor whose duty it was to cultivate the mind and morals of the youth.
One day as the tutor and his pupil were taking a walk in the country, they came to the edge of a wood, where they observed a half-felled tree, and saw lying by it a pair of wooden shoes. The day being warm, the workman, resting from his toil, was cooling his feet in a neighboring brook. The young nobleman, in a spirit of fun, picked up a few small rounded pebbles and said: “I’ll put these in the old fellow’s shoes, and we’ll enjoy his grimaces when he tries to put them on. It will be great fun.”
“Well,” said the tutor, “I doubt if you will get much fun out of that. He must be a poor man. No doubt his lot is a hard one. Would there be fun in adding to his troubles? I can’t help thinking that if you were to surprise him in a different way, say by putting a little money in each shoe, you would enjoy his grimaces better. You have plenty of money. What do you say? Is it worth trying?”
The boy who, though mischievous, was very kind-hearted and generous, caught quickly at the proposal of the tutor, and slipped a silver coin into each shoe. Then they hid behind a tree to watch the outcome of their innocent prank. They had not very long to wait. An elderly man came back to his work—hard work it was, too hard for a man of his years—and slipped his right foot into his shoe.
Feeling something hard in the shoe he withdrew his foot and looked to see what the object might be, when lo! he discovered the coin. A look of puzzled amazement came over his sad face, which made the two watchers chuckle with amusement. He turned the coin over and over in his hand, and gazed at it in astonishment.
As he looked at it he felt with his foot for the other shoe, and slipped that one on. To his great surprise that shoe, too, held a coin. Holding up both silver pieces, and staring at them in silence, he made a most impressive picture, which was by no means lost upon the two beholders. Then suddenly clasping his hands together he fell upon his knees and gave thanks for the blessing that had come upon him.
As he prayed, the boy and his tutor learned from his words that his poor wife was sick and helpless at home, and that his orphaned grandchildren were suffering for food, while he, old and feeble, was striving by heavy toil to earn a crust. The old man invoked the blessing of Heaven upon the unknown but generous soul who had pitied his poverty—the kind heart, whosoever it might be, that could thus beat warm in charity and kindness for the hungry and the poor.
“He has gone,” said the old man, “without even waiting to be thanked. But go where he may, far as he may, the earth is not wide enough but that the blessing of an old man shall seek him out and find him. The blessing of the poor flies fast,” he cried; “it will overtake him and abide with him to the end of life.
“May the charity of God and the care of His angels go with him, keep him from poverty, shield him from sickness, guard him from evil, and ever fill his heart with warmth and joy, as he has filled mine this day! I’ll work no more today. I’ll go home to my wife and children, and they shall join me in calling for blessings upon their kind helper.” He put on his shoes, shouldered his ax, and departed.
Then the two watchers had a little dialogue.
“Now I call this the best kind of fun,” said the tutor. “Why, boy, what are you sniveling at?”
“You are sniveling, too,” said the boy.
“Well, then, both of us are sniveling,” said the tutor. “So, you see, fun may lead to sniveling as well as to laughing. Of all the pleasures of life, those are the most blessed which are expressed by tears rather than laughter.”
“Come on!” said the boy.
“Where next?” asked the tutor.
“Why, to follow him, to be sure. I want to know where they live and who they are. Do you think I will let his wife be sick and his grandchildren be hungry if I can help it? I have learned a new kind of fun, and I want more of it.”
“My dear boy, I don’t for a moment think you will stop with one good joke of this kind. Youth, with a heart like yours, never does things by halves.”
So they followed the subject of their joke to his home, and the young nobleman, by means of his well-filled purse, found means to enjoy much more of his new-found variety of fun.
DEFINITIONS:—Tutor, teacher. Grimace, distortion of the face. Impressive, touching. Invoked, called down.
TWO WAYS OF TELLING A STORY
By Henry K. Oliver
In one of the most populous cities of New England, a few years ago, a party of lads, all members of the same school, got up a grand sleigh ride. The sleigh was a very large one, drawn by six gray horses.
On the following day, as the teacher entered the schoolroom, he found his pupils in high glee, as they chattered about the fun and frolic of their excursion. In answer to some inquiries, one of the lads gave him an account of their trip and its various incidents.
As he drew near the end of his story, he exclaimed: “Oh, sir! there was one thing I had almost forgotten. As we were coming home, we saw ahead of us a queer-looking affair in the road. It proved to be a rusty old sleigh, fastened behind a covered wagon, proceeding at a very slow rate, and taking up the whole road.
“Finding that the owner was not disposed to turn out, we determined upon a volley of snowballs and a good hurrah. They produced the right effect, for the crazy machine turned out into the deep snow, and the skinny old pony started on a full trot.
“As we passed, some one gave the horse a good crack, which made him run faster than he ever did before, I’ll warrant.
“With that, an old fellow in the wagon, who was buried up under an old hat, bawled out, ‘Why do you frighten my horse?’ ‘Why don’t you turn out, then?’ says the driver. So we gave him three rousing cheers more. His horse was frightened again, and ran up against a loaded wagon, and, I believe, almost capsized the old creature—and so we left him.”
“Well, boys,” replied the teacher, “take your seats, and I will tell you a story, and all about a sleigh ride, too. Yesterday afternoon a very venerable old clergyman was on his way from Boston to Salem, to pass the rest of the winter at the house of his son. That he might be prepared for journeying in the following spring he took with him his wagon, and for the winter his sleigh, which he fastened behind the wagon.
“His sight and hearing were somewhat blunted by age, and he was proceeding very slowly; for his horse was old and feeble, like its owner. He was suddenly disturbed by loud hurrahs from behind, and by a furious pelting of balls of snow and ice upon the top of his wagon.
“In his alarm he dropped his reins, and his horse began to run away. In the midst of the old man’s trouble, there rushed by him, with loud shouts, a large party of boys, in a sleigh drawn by six horses. ‘Turn out! turn out, old fellow!’ ‘Give us the road!’ ‘What will you take for your pony?’ ‘What’s the price of oats, old man?’ were the various cries that met his ears.
“‘Pray, do not frighten my horse!’ exclaimed the infirm driver. ‘Turn out, then! turn out!’ was the answer, which was followed by repeated cracks and blows front the long whip of the ‘grand sleigh,’ with showers of snowballs, and three tremendous hurrahs from the boys.
“The terror of the old man and his horse was increased, and the latter ran away with him, to the great danger of his life. He contrived, however, to stop his horse just in season prevent his being dashed against a loaded wagon. A short distance brought him to the house of his son. That son, boys, is your instructor, and that ‘old fellow’ was your teacher’s father!”
When the boys perceived how rude and unkind their conduct appeared from another point of view, they were very much ashamed of their thoughtlessness, and most of them had the manliness to apologize to their teacher for what they had done.
DEFINITIONS:—Populous, full of inhabitants. Excursion, a pleasure trip. Incidents, things that happens, events. Warrant, to declare with assurance. Capsized, upset. Venerable, deserving of honor and respect. Blunted, dulled.
EXERCISES.—Repeat the boy’s story of the sleigh ride. The teacher’s story. Were the boys ill-natured or only thoughtless? Is thoughtlessness any excuse for rudeness or unkindness?