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boy of yours, as long as I can remember him, has been a young adventurer. There is no wild prank of childhood that he has not indulged in, and that he has arrived at his present age without broken bones, is to me a marvel. Any one can see that a quiet life, every day the same, would be to him very wretched; and if he has been out poaching, as you seem to think, it is just the spirit of adventure that has tempted him, and nothing worse.”
The man looked wonderingly, but gratefully, at Mr. Marsden, for this merciful judg. ment of his transgressing child.
“Don't mistake me now. If the boy goes on in this course, he will be ruined, he must be; but if he were mine, I would place him in a line of life where he should have full swing for his roving spirit, where he might spend all those stirring energies in his country's service, which, if he is pent up here, will all be turned against her."
"But how, sir ? would you send him to
“Ay, that I would, if I could; and I would do it willingly, not grudgingly, and let the boy go with the love and affection of his family to hang like a talisman round his neck. Don't wait till you are obliged to send him from you, with a character damaged, and nothing left in life worth striving for; but let him feel that you are anxious for his happi. ness, and consult with him, and act with one mind and one intent.”
“But, sir, a sailor's life is but a wild life at the best."
“I grant you it is, and yet if all were to shrink from it on that account, how would our navy be manned, think you? Why, my friend, our country looks to her seamen as to her best friends and protectors, and verily she has never looked in vain. They are, as a body, a noble set of men, and why should not your son rank with the best of them ?"
"Well, sir, I don't know but you may be right. 'Tis a whole year now since we talked
r now since
about it, and the boy is no better about the farming-I think he's worse.”
“Well, I'll tell you what I will do. I will call upon Captain Masham if you like, and ask him whether he can get him a berth; you know I have neither power nor interest, but he has, and when I get his answer I will let you know. In the meantime don't look coldly upon the boy for what is passed ; don't put a stumbling-block between him and you, by any unkindness, and trust me, if you act wisely and gently towards him now, he will turn out a credit and a comfort to you yet."
“Sir, I thank you very heartily. Shall I tell the boy what we are thinking of ?"
“You had better do as you find it best; perhaps it would be as well, for it would give you an opportunity of mentioning your fears about last night. But let me give you one caution, we are all sinners together, and in reproving our children, we need to remember, that their faults are only our own in another form, and we must be tender and sympathizing, not harsh and stern towards them.”
“Sir, I'll take your advice ; I'll not say one cross word to the boy; he's been avoiding me all the morning, but I'll go and find him, and put matters right between us. God bless him ! if he must leave us, it shall never be with a sore heart," and the man turned round to brush away a tear, as he wished Mr. Marsden good morning, and passed out of the room.
The next time the door opened, Mrs. Mars. den appeared. “ Can you admit me, my dear, or do you expect any more visitors ?”
“No more to-day, my dear Mary, I think,” and he pulled out his watch as he spoke; “it is nearly twelve o'clock; come and sit down."
"I want to ask you one or two things before I go out into the village. Are those allowances to be continued any longer to those two men, Jones and Brook ?”
“I think they must be. They are not half well yet, and when you do discontinue them, you must do it by degrees. But, dear wise, a: e you well enough to go out to-day? You have been complaining of headache this morning.”
"Oh, yes, quite well enough, thank you. You know my ailments do not usually admit of nursing--they are apt to take advantage, if I give way to them at all; the fresh air will do me good. Now, about little Dick Maple. The neighbours all look coldly on him since he was detected stealing that firewood, and no one will employ him; but the poor boy is heartily sorry, and I for one have no fears about him. Don't you think we could employ him for a time in the garden and field, and let him earn a character again ?"
“Yes, my dear, I am sure we can, and it is a very kind and wise suggestion; make any arrangement you like about it.”
“Very well, I shall be glad to do that; and now there is one thing more-Have you seen that young widow yet who came from London? because, if not, I should like you to do so. I don't feel that my visits are of any use to her."
“Why, my dear?"