Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

RESULTS OF LESSON NO. II.

263

[ocr errors]

For our purposes, however, the history of one night's reading will be sufficient, which must be told here, now we are on the subject, though it didn't happen till a year afterwards, and long after the events recorded in the next chapter of our story.

Arthur, Tom, and East were together one night, and read the story of Naaman coming to Elisha to be cured of his leprosy. When the chapter was finished, Tom shut his Bible with a slap.

“ I can't stand that fellow Naaman,” said he, " after what he'd seen and felt, going back and bowing himself down in the house of Rimmon, because his effeminate scoundrel of a master did it. I wonder Elisha took the trouble to heal him. How he must have despised him.”.

“ Yes, there you go off as usual, with a shell on your head,” struck in East, who always took the opposite side to Tom; half from love of argument, half from conviction. “How do you know he didn't think better of it? how do you know his master was a scoundrel ? His letter don't look like it, and the book don't say so."

“I don't care,” rejoined Tom; “why did Naaman talk about bowing down, then, if he didn't mean to do it? He wasn't likely to get more in earnest when he got back to court, and away from the prophet.”

6 Well but, Tom," said Arthur, “ look what Elisha says to him, 'Go in peace. He wouldn't have said that if Naaman had been in the wrong."

“ I don't see that that means more than saying, "You're not the man I took you for.'

“ No, no, that won't do at all,” said East; “ read

264

TOM IS STIFFNECKED.

the words fairly, and take men as you find them. I like Naaman, and think he was a very fine fellow.”

“I don't,” said Tom positively.

“ Well, I think East is right," said Arthur; “I can't see but what it's right to do the best you can, though it mayn't be the best absolutely. Every man isn't born to be a martyr.”

“Of course, of course," said East; “but he's on one of his pet hobbies. How often have I told you, Tom, that you must drive a nail where it'll go."

“ And how often have I told you,” rejoined Tom, “ that it'll always go where you want, if you only stick to it and hit hard enough. I hate half-measures and compromises.”

6 Yes, he's a whole-hog man, is Tom. Must have the whole animal, hair and teeth, claws and tail,” laughed East. “ Sooner have no bread any day, than half the loaf.”

“I don't know,' said Arthur, “it's rather puzzling; but ain't most right things got by proper compromises, I mean where the principle isn't given up?"

“ That's just the point,” said Tom; “I don't object to a compromise, where you don't give up your principle.”

“ Not you,” said East laughingly. “I know him of old, Arthur, and you'll find him out some day. There .sn't such a reasonable fellow in the world, to hear him talk. He never wants any thing but what's right and fair ; only when you come to settle what's right and fair, it's every thing that he wants, and nothing that you want. And that's his idea of a compromise. Give me the Brown compromise when I'm on his side.”

TOM PLEDGES HIMSELF.

265

“ Now, Harry," said Tom," no more chaff — I'm serious. Look here - this is what makes my blood tingle;” and he turned over the pages of his Bible and read, “ Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “0 Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.'” He read the last verse twice, emphasizing the 'not's, and dwelling on them as if they gave him actual pleasure, and were hard to part with.

They were silent a minute, and then Arthur said, “ Yes, that's a glorious story, but it don't prove your point, Tom, I think. There are times when there is only one way, and that the highest, and then the men are found to stand in the breach."

“ There's always a highest way, and it's always the right one,” said Tom. “ How many times has the Doctor told us that in his sermons in the last year, I should like to know ?"

“ Well, you ain't going to convince us, is he, Arthur? No Brown compromise to-night," said East, looking at his watch. “But it's past eight, and we must go to first lesson. What a bore.”

So they took down their books and fell to work ; but Arthur didn't forget, and thought long and often over the conversation.

23

CHAPTER III.

ARTHUR MAKES A FRIEND.

“Let Nature be your teacher,

Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things,
We murder to dissect -
Enough of Science and of Art;
Close up those barren leaves,
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives." - WORDSWORTH.

About six weeks after the beginning of the half, as Tom and Arthur were sitting one night before supper beginning their verses, Arthur suddenly stopped, and looked up, and said, “ Tom, do you know anything of Martin ?"

“ Yes," said Tom, taking his hand out of his back hair, and delighted to throw his Gradus ad Parnassum on to the sofa : “ I know him pretty well. He's a very good fellow, but as mad as a hatter. He's called Madman, you know. And never was such a fellow for getting all sorts of rum things about him. He tamed two snakes last half, and used to carry them about in his pocket, and I'll be bound he's got some hedgehogs and rats in his cupboard now, and no one knows what besides.”

“I should like very much to know him," said Arthur; "he was next to me in the form to-day, and

TROUBLES OF A BOY-PHILOSOPHER.

267

he'd lost his book and looked over mine, and he seemed so kind and gentle, that I liked him very much.”

“Ah, poor old madman, he's always losing his books," said Tom, " and getting called up and floored because he hasn't got them."

“ I like him all the better,” said Arthur.

“ Well, he's great fun, I can tell you,” said Tom, throwing himself back on the sofa and chuckling at the remembrance. “ We had such a game with him one day last half. He had been kicking up horrid stinks for some time in his study, till I suppose some fellow told Mary, and she told the Doctor. Any how, one day a little before dinner, when he came down from the library, the Doctor, instead of going home, came striding into the hall. East and I and five or six other fellows were at the fire, and preciously we stared, for he don't come in like that once a year, unless it's a wet day and there's a fight in the hall. 'East,' says he, just come and show me Martin's study: Oh, here's a game,' whispered the rest of us, and we all cut up stairs after the Doctor, East leading. As we got into the New Row, which was hardly wide enough to hold the Doctor and his gown, click, click, click, we heard in the old madman's den. Then that stopped all of a sudden, and the bolts went to like fun: the madman knew East's step, and thought there was going to be a siege.

666 It's the Doctor, Martin. He's here and wants to see you,' sings out East.

“ Then the bolts went back slowly, and the door

« VorigeDoorgaan »