« PreviousContinue »
'But there are several shoe-stores in Chatham-street,' said Jeremiah.
'Do tell me if there are!' said the lady; 'I want to know! What a pretty creature that young man is!'. looking at our hero; 'I want to know if he is your brother!'
'No, madam,' replied Jeremiah.
'Well, I thought you did n't look much alike,' said the lady. 'Do tell me if his mother war n't dreadful sorry to let him leave her?' 'He has got no mother,' said Jeremiah.
'I want to know!' said the lady; precious soul! Huldah, bring out a currant pie. And do tell me if either of you has ever experienced religion?'
'I am afraid not,' replied Jeremiah.
'Do tell!' replied the querist; 'what a pity that such a sweet pretty creature should n't get religion! Huldah, bring out some ham and coffee, and give 'em. Precious souls!'
So our travellers made a hearty breakfast; and then the kindhearted landlady called our hero to her side, and having smoothed down his hair, she gave him a kiss; and begged him, for her sake, to try and get religion, which he promised to do; for he felt very grateful for his breakfast, and would have promised to undertake any thing that he might have been requested to.
Jeremiah met the gentleman, whom he had seen at the breakfast table, smoking a segar on the piazza after his breakfast, and he told the stranger of his mishap, and of the unpleasant situation in which he found himself in consequence.
'I see you have got a watch,' said the stranger; why don't you pledge it with the landlord, and then you will be under no obligation to him.'
'I would not do that upon any account,' said Jeremiah, 'because the watch is not my own; it is one that I borrowed from a fellow clerk.' Is it waluable?' inquired the gentleman.
'I believe it is,' replied Jeremiah, showing it to the stranger. 'Yes, it's very waluable,' said the stranger; 'too much so to put into the hands of such a rascal as the keeper of this house is, any how. But I will tell you what I will do for you. I am going to rousticate here with my wife some time, and I'll keep it for you, and come under obligation to the landlord for your expenses, until you get your remittance by mail.'
'I should be very thankful if you would,' said Jeremiah; 'and as I am going to take a ramble in the woods with my young companion, you would oblige me by taking care of it until I return, for I should be extremely sorry to injure it.'
'With the greatest pleasure in the world, Sir,' replied the stranger, ' and I will give you a receipt for it, to prevent accidents.'
That will be quite desirable,' said Jeremiah, as we are strangers to each other.'
Accordingly the gentleman took out his memorandum-book and wrote a receipt for the watch, and Jeremiah bade him a good morning, and went to look after our hero, who was having fine sport with a large watch-dog in the stable. And then they set out on a ramble in the woods, and a long way they rambled too, and much longer they
would have continued to do so, but they began to grow hungry, and were obliged to leave all the pleasant allurements of the woods, to return to the tavern for their dinner. But when they got there, dinner was over, and Jeremiah being too modest to make a bustle, especially as he was living upon credit, they had to wait a long time before they could get any thing to eat; and then it was given to them very grudgingly. The fat, good-natured landlady was taking her afternoon nap, and Jeremiah told the tavern-keeper that he need be under no apprehension about getting his pay for their board, as he had put abundant security into the hands of Mr. Washington Mortimer, who would be responsible for all charges.
'Wal, Mister,' said the tavern-keeper, 'I thought you said you was from the city?'
'So we are,' replied Jeremiah.
'Wal, I never knew before that any green-horns quite as green as you, ever came from there,' said the tavern-keeper.
What do you mean!' exclaimed Jeremiah, a sudden suspicion flashing on his mind; 'you don't mean to say that Mr. Mortimer has gone!'
Wal, I expect he has,' replied the tavern-keeper; he started off in his shay more than four hours ago.'
'And has he taken his baggage with him?' inquired Jeremiah. Wal, all the baggage he had was that she critter of his 'n, and he took her,' replied the tavern-keeper.
'O, oh!' groaned Jeremiah; he has taken my gold watch, that I borrowed from one of the clerks! What shall I say, or what can I do!'
'Never mind, Jeremiah,' said our hero, I will give you my watch in the place of it, when I get it from the watch-maker's.
But Jeremiah was so much overcome at this intelligence, and at the recollection of his want of discretion, that he could not eat his dinner, and he left our hero and went away by himself; and when John saw him again, his eyes were red, as though he had been crying. That night the tavern keeper gave them a bed, but the next day he was so cross and surly, that Jeremiah told our hero he would not stop another hour in the tavern, but that he would travel on foot to Willowmead Academy, and send a conveyance back for him. But John would not listen to such a proposition; he insisted on accompanying Jeremiah, and accordingly they set out on their journey toward Willowmead, which was forty miles distant. As their road lay through a pleasant country, the time passed swiftly, and they travelled a long distance without feeling at all weary. Sometimes they would stop to slake their thirst in a clear running brook, and sometimes they would stretch themselves out on the dry leaves, beneath the shade of a sycamore or a walnut tree, until they were refreshed, and then they would continue their journey again. At last, however, they were driven by hunger to beg for something to eat at a farm-house door. The farmer's wife civilly asked them to walk in, and then placed before them, on a nice white table, a piece of cold veal, some brown bread and cheese, and a pitcher of hard cider, of which they partook heartily, and having thanked the good woman for her kindness, they continued on their way; but night overtook them at a desolate-looking
place. It was on the summit of a bleak hill, with but few signs of civilization around them. There were no farm-houses near; and to add to their uncomfortable prospects, the sky became suddenly overcast with heavy clouds, and sudden gusts of wind seemed to forewarn them of an approaching storm. Jeremiah now bethought himself that they had done a very foolish thing in leaving the tavern, as he had directed Mr. Tremlett to write to him at that place, and it was probable that a letter with money would arrive there for him that very evening. But it was too late for them to return, and they had no other alternative but to push ahead, until they should arrive at a farmhouse or a tavern. Having looked about them in vain for some signs of a dwelling-house, they began to descend the hill, which was very rugged, although it was a gradual slope. By the time they reached. the bottom, it was pitch dark, and the rain had begun to pour down in torrents; and notwithstanding it was in the summer time, the weather was very cold, the wind blew fiercely from the north-east, and the big drops of rain struck upon the flesh of our travellers with such force that they thought it was hail.
'Poor Jack!' exclaimed Jeremiah, ‘I am afraid you will not be able to bear up under this pelting storm. I do not care for myself; this cold rain and these rough roads do not make me feel half as uncomfortable and wretched as I have often felt, when under the warm shelter of a roof, at the harsh replies I have received from a brutal employer. Indeed I do not know, Jack, that I should feel very bad, even though I were certain that I should never see the sun's light again, for there are none who would shed a tear over me when they heard of my death. But there is one, at least, who would weep for you, and for his sake as well as your own, I hope we may soon find a shelter.'
'And there is one that would weep for you, Jeremiah,' said John; 'for I should cry very hard if any thing should happen to you. So cheer up, and do n't be cast down on my account, for I do love you, indeed I do.'
By this time they had reached the foot of the hill, when they soon came to a wooden bridge which crossed a mill-stream, that foamed and fretted over its rocky bottom, and made a much louder noise than does many a deeper river. As soon as they crossed the bridge, they discovered a mill, and a little farther on they perceived a small but bright light glimmering through the darkness. They ran toward it, and very happy they felt when they discovered that it proceeded from the kitchen-window of a large farm-house. The numerous outhouses and a large barn gave promise of good quarters, and our travellers entered the house with great confidence of a kind reception. As they opened the door, a truly pleasant sight met their eyes. long table was spread on the floor, and a bright, cheerful fire, of good stout hickory sticks, burned in the capacious fire place; a steaming tea-kettle and a frying pan, full of thick slices of ham, which sputtered merrily, gave assurance that supper was nearly ready. And long shelves full of tin pans and pewter dishes, as bright as silver, reflected back the bright light which the hickory fire threw out. A buxom, rosy-cheeked girl, with a blue-striped long-short, and arms bared to her elbow, was busied around the fire-place, while an elderly woman,
with three or four young children, were seated on one side of the chimney corner.
Jeremiah took off his hat, and related his necessities in a few words; and the woman told him and his companion to draw up to the fire and dry themselves. The preparations for supper were carried on with great spirit by the buxom young woman in the striped longshort, and John thought he had never seen a comelier looking young lady. Presently three or four young men came in, apparently the farmer's sons, and shortly after the master of the house himself made his appearance. He was a very saintly-seeming personage, and Jeremiah, with his accustomed ingenuousness, inwardly congratulated himself upon falling into the hands of such a pious-looking individual; for he never could learn to put a just estimate upon outward appearances. But a keener sighted man than Jeremiah might have been deceived by the very smooth exterior of the farmer. He wore a very plain coat, with horn buttons, which seemed to indicate that he was a Friend, and his glossy hair, cut with mathematical precision, and his plain language, left no doubt in the minds of our travellers that such was the fact. Upon hearing Jeremiah's story, Friend Hogshart, for that was the farmer's name, smoothed down his hair, and hemmed two or three times portentously.
'Although we are without money now,' said Jeremiah; yet we shall have it in our power very shortly to pay you well, if you will allow us to sleep here to-night.'
'Doubtless thee will,' said the Friend, 'but we do not keep a house of entertainment except for Friends at yearly meeting; and then the discipline of our society does not allow us to receive money.'
It is a generous discipline,' replied Jeremiah; but I hope it will not debar you from taking money from us, for we should be loth to enjoy your hospitalities without discharging the obligation you would lay us under, with such means as were in our power.'
Thee is very kind,' said friend Hogshart,' but we have got no spare beds in the house, and it is not in conformity with our customs to entertain strangers.'
'I would not ask you to do so,' said Jeremiah, but we are strangers upon the road, and the night is so inclement that I am apprehensive my young companion would not survive until morning, if he should be exposed to the weather.'
Yes, that would be bad, I suppose,' said the Friend; 'but thee does not expect us to depart from our established customs, because the night is stormy ? Thee sees that it would be very destructive of discipline, if we were to break one of our own rules because it happens to be raining hard.'
'I have no right to insist on remaining here,' said Jeremiah, ‘but you will have the kindness to allow my young companion to sit by the kitchen-fire until morning, I will very cheerfully sleep in your barn myself.'
Thee is very plausible, my friend,' said the farmer, but if thee did not understand what I have been saying, I will repeat it again.' 'I understood perfectly,' replied Jeremiah; but I hoped that you might be induced to alter your determination.'
I perceive thee is a stranger to Friends,' said the farmer; but as
supper is waiting for us, I will not detain thee from the prosecution of thy journey any longer: thee will find a house kept by world's people about two miles farther on; probably they may be disposed to entertain thee.'
Even Jeremiah's gentle temper began to grow a little excited, and he put his hat on rather hastily, and taking hold of our hero's hand, drew him out into the pelting rain again. Friend Hogshart accompanied them to the door; and as they emerged into the darkness, he said: Farewell, friends; I wish thee good night; farewell!'
Jeremiah's heart was too full to say farewell; he could not speak ; but John said, 'I do n't care about the rain, Jeremiah; let us walk as fast as we can, until we get to the house where the world's people live; it is only two miles, and we can soon get there.'
'Ah! John,' said Jeremiah, 'what can we expect of world's ple, when these conscientious Quakers turn us out of doors, on such a night as this! It has never been my lot to meet with aught but unkindness from the world, and I fear I never shall.'
'I should n't have cared at all about being turned out of doors,' said John, 'if that man had not bade us farewell so kindly.'
'We certainly ought to feel ourselves under obligations to him for civil language,' said Jeremiah; it was certainly kind in him not to talk rudely to us.'
The wind now blew so fiercely in their faces, and the roads had become so bad, that they were obliged to stop and take breath: they could scarcely move ahead at all.
The blustering little river that they had crossed, was swollen to double its usual width, and the ricketty wooden bridge threatened every moment to give way to the torrent. Fearful of losing them
selves on the road, Jeremiah and John had retreated to the mill, and now stood under the lee of it, wet to the skin, and shivering with cold, when their attention was suddenly aroused by the sound of a carriage coming down the hill. Although they could distinctly hear the feet of the horses, and the rattling of the carriage-wheels, they could not see the carriage, it was so dark. But it approached them very rapidly, and the horses' hoofs were soon heard upon the hollow sounding bridge, and then a loud cry and a crash was heard, and Jeremiah and John perceived that the bridge had fallen, and that the carriage was precipitated into the stream. The white foam of the turbulent water enabled them to see the horses' heads and the body of the carriage, as they were hurried along toward the edge of the dam. John ran to the house, shouting for help with all his might, while Jeremiah ran down the stream, with the hope of being able to render some assistance; but all he could do was, to encourage the driver, who still clung to his box, and bid him hold on, as help was at hand. John soon returned with Friend Hogshart, his two sons, and a lantern: the carriage had fortunately caught against some obstruction in the stream, and the driver was calling to them to hurry, for God's sake, as a gentleman inside would be drowned if they did not. The mill was a saw-mill, and there was a large pile of boards near at hand, with which they soon formed a raft, and reached the carriage, and having cut the horses loose, they broke open the door, and took out the gentleman, who proved to be the only passenger. He was almost