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with the pale pink of some vegetable coloring-matter that he had found in the woods.
* Upon my word !” said the stranger, glancing at the box, as it was being filled and set aside to cool by its ingenious and free-hearted little owner, upon my word, Master Locke, you seem to have a genius for every thing. That is one of the neatest specimens of mechanical skill, considering your means of making it here in the woods, which I have seen this long while. My daughter, I think, will feel quite proud of her present."
“O, the boy knows enough," said Amsden with affected indifference, as he, with the pail of new sugar, and his son, with the box, having filled up the kettles with sap, and replenished the fires, now started with their guest for the house, “he knows enough, no doubt; and if he would only turn his mind on business to some account, he might mako considerable of a man."
On reaching and entering the house, our young hero sent a sheepish and inquiring glance around the room in search of the object on which he had promised himself the pleasure of bestowing his sweet and pretty gift; but when that fair object met his admiring gaze, with her brightly blue eyes and sweetly expressive countenance, his courage suddenly failed him, and he found himself unable to approach and make the offering, till her father, interposing, directed her attention to the present, which he told her his young friend, Master Locke, had generously proposed to make her; when, feeling that there was now no retreat for him, he timidly advanced, and silently presented the box to the smiling girl, who received it, at first, with a playful “thank’ee,” and then, as she drew out the cover, and ascertained the contents, with lively expressions of grateful delight. This breaking the ice of his bashfulness, Locke soon found himself engaged with his fair friend in a sociable conversation, which was main.
tained on her part with that sort of unconscious frankness, or forwardness, perhaps we might say, which characterizes the manners of the sex at the age of the one in question.
The company were now summoned to the excellent dinner, which the provident and ambitious mistress of the house had prepared for the occasion. The meal, which she had spread on her best cherry table, covered with a cloth of snowy whiteness, the workmanship of her own hands from distaff to hemming and marking, consisted, in the first place, of ham, eggs, and other varieties of the substantial food usually found upon the farmer's table. Then came the fine meal Indian Johnny-cake, mixed with cream, eggs, and sugar, and forming, when rightly made, perhaps the most delectable esculent of the bread kind, that ever gratified an epicure's palate. This last, and the light, hot biscuit, for those who chose them, together with pies, both apple and minced, stewed fruit, gooseberry preserves, honey, and new sugar, constituted the desert, —- the whole making a repast which gave proof that the farmer has ample materials of his own raising, if he has but a wife of competent skill in cookery to manage them, to furnish a table which may be made to rival the boasted banquet-boards of princes.
As soon as the dinner, which had passed off with great sociability and good feeling, was finished, the travellers, pleading the necessity of diligence on their way, immediately commenced preparations for resuming their journey. The horse, which, in the mean time, had been returned and well cared for by the boy who had taken him in charge, was now, by the same active little groom, speedily cleaned, harnessed, and brought up with the carriage to the door. And, the next moment, the gentleman, with the sprightly little Mary (for such, it appeared, was the girl's name,) emerged from the house, followed by the family, who now gathered round the carriage to witness the departure of those who seemed to
have succeeded, in two brief hours, in awakening an interest which is usually created only by a long and intimate acquaintance.
“ Now, Mr. Amsden," said the stranger, turning to his host, after placing his daughter in her seat, "now, I will settle with you for the shoeing of the horse, our dinners, and all other trouble, to say nothing of the hospitable kindness with which you all have made us feel so much at home. What, sir, will be your bill ?”
Ben, what did Mr. Dighton say he should charge ? " asked the other, turning to his boy.
“ Forty cents, sir,” was the prompt reply.
will allow me to direct the manner of payment.”
Very well, sir; speak on.”
Why, when you get settled down in life again, give some other traveller a dinner, if he is as good company as you have been, and that shall square the account between us.”
“I will, however, make your boys a present." “ Better see whether they will take any thing first, sir.”
“O, no, no, sir," quickly interposed Locke, as the gentlemen was opening his purse.
“ Not a cent for me, Mister ; that aint the way I get my living,” chimed in the spirited and proud little Ben.
“Ah, I see you are all determined to have your way at this time,” smilingly remarked the stranger : "however, all may come right hereafter, perhaps. But as the matter now stands, I have only to express my sense of obligation to each and all of you. And one thing more, before we part, Mr.
Amsden - let me repeat to you my advice, to give this elder son of yours the chance for a good education.”
“Do you think he has capacities which would warrant such a step, sir ?” asked the gratified mother of the boy.
“ Indeed, I certainly do, Madam; even to sending him to a college,” replied the other.
“That would be impossible in my circumstances, provided I thought as you do on the subject,” remarked Mr. Amsden.
“Let him go to a good academy, then," rejoined the stranger.
“ Well, now, I don't exactly know about that,” replied the other. “ He may go winters to our district schools as long as he pleases; and I think, for the present, at least, that he should, and will be, quite satisfied with that. Is it not so, Locke?”
“Why," answered the boy diffidently, “I should be satisfied to go to our district masters, if they could tell me the reasons of things, which I always wish to know.”
“ That is right, Master Locke, responded the stranger; “you have expressed, in almost a word, the great aim and essence of all true knowledge and philosophy —'to know the reason of things. Yes, my young friend, let that still be your ambition; and, if your father will give you the opportunity, I doubt not you will do honor to the motto you have chosen."
“ Well, I would be a scholar, Locke, if I was you,” added Mary, with charming naïveté ; and if you will, and come and keep school where I live, I will go to school to you, and become a great scholar too, if I can.”
The travellers now took their leave of the family, and drove from the yard, attended by the repeatedly expressed good wishes of the good-hearted farmer, and his equally kind and more high-minded companion. And, in these wishes, they
were joined by another, who, though he had uttered less, yet felt more than they had expressed! That was our young hero; who, as the rest of the family returned into the house, stood mutely gazing after the receding carriage, till its last traces were lost to his sight; when he slowly turned away, the big drops of tears standing in his eyes, and his lip quivering with emotions which had been awakened by this briet, but to him, as will appear in the sequel, important visit of these interesting strangers.