How Nick Learned
"Hallo, Doc! Where'd you get that horse?" called Nick Hammond as he
approached his father and Dr. Morris, as they were talking at the gate one
"Why, halloo, little man! I got this horse over the river. Ever see him
before?" answered the old doctor, genially, little thinking that he was
somewhat to blame for Nick's lack of good manners in thus accosting an
When the doctor had gone, Mr. Hammond called Nick to him and said, "Nick,
did not your mother tell you last evening not to say, 'Halloo,' when you
Nick's eyes fell, for he remembered, and he said, "Yes, sir."
"Then why did you say it to Dr. Morris this evening?"
"O, I don't think he cares what I say to him!"
"No, I do not suppose he does care; but I do, and I think if your mother
had heard you address the doctor as Doc, she would have been very much
ashamed; for she has tried very hard to teach you good manners."
"Well, everybody says 'Halloo,' papa, and I can't help it, and I'm sure Mr.
Evans said 'Doc' when he was talking out there this evening."
"It is true that a great many people do use both those words, but that is
no reason why you should use them, when you have been told not to do so.
There is also some difference, I think, between the age of Mr. Evans and
yourself. Men can say things to one another that would be quite improper
for a boy to say to a man. Now I want you to be more careful, and speak
respectfully to every one you meet."
Nick went to his play, but he took up a string of reasoning like this:
"Because I am the only boy mama has set out to make me as good as Mabel,
and she doesn't allow me to use slang nor anything of the kind. I know if
there were half a dozen boys here, it would be different. I suppose it is
all right for girls and women, but, bah! I can't be a goody-goody. I am
only a boy. I guess it won't pay to bother about good manners, like a girl.
I am too busy these days, when there is no school, to learn manners or
anything else, anyway," and he went off with his goat, to forget everything
Time after time Nick failed to heed what he had been told, and each time he
had to suffer a just penalty; but it seemed as if he never could learn
manners. The real reason was that he had no desire to have good manners.
One morning Mrs. Hammond said: "Now, Nick, I am expecting your Aunt Ella
and Uncle Alfred today, and I want you to be on your guard while they are
here, and not act as if you were a backwoods boy who does not know
anything. I especially want you to be gentlemanly; for Uncle Alfred is such
a stranger to us yet that he will not understand you, and will think less
of your papa and myself for seeing you rude and ill-mannered. You see, you
owe it to yourself to make every one like you as much as possible. They
live so far away that it may be a long time before they will see you
"Well, I should like to see my new Uncle Alf. I hope they won't stay long;
for I do hate to be afraid to halloo and do things."
"Now, don't say Uncle Alf, Nick. You know better than that. Say Uncle
Alfred, but don't say it too often. As for making a noise, you can relieve
yourself when away from the house, but I do not want you to talk when
others are talking, and, above all, do not contradict them, no matter what
"All right, mama, I'll try," promised Nick.
But, alas for his promise! It belonged to the large family of promises that
Nick had been making for many months. It was as easily broken as a broom
straw. Aunt Ella and her husband, who was president of a great Western
college, were not long in seeing the worst side of little Nick. He
repeatedly did the very things his mama had urged him not to do, and was
recklessly disobedient in general.
The last day of the visit was to be spent with some distinguished friends
of Uncle Alfred's at the Lake House, nine miles away. Mr. and Mrs. Hammond
were going with them, and Nick was determined to go, too. When his mama
went to her room to get ready, Nick followed her and begged her to take
him. "No, Nick," she said, in a positive way, "I shall not take you
anywhere until you learn to behave as a boy of your age should. Go to the
dining-room and wait there until we are ready to start, and then you can
come down to Grandma Hammond's and stay until four o'clock."
He knew that it was no use to tease, so he went to the couch in the
dining-room. He felt very sullen and bitter, and threw himself down on the
friendly pillows to indulge in a few tears. In a few moments he heard
subdued voices on the veranda just outside the window. Aunt Ella was
saying, "I know they would both enjoy the drive this lovely day." "Of
course they would," said Uncle Alfred, "and I would like to have them with
us, but what would Dr. and Mrs. Watson think of Nick? He surely is the
rudest child I have ever known. I am sorry to cheat Mabel out of pleasure,
for she is a dear little girl, but really Ella, I should be ashamed of
Nick's behavior, shouldn't you?"
Nick waited to hear no more. He slipped out quickly, and said to the cook
in the kitchen, "Please tell mama I didn't wait; I've gone to grandma's."
He was so quiet and gentle all day that Grandma Hammond worried a great
deal, saying: "I never saw the like of it. The boy is either sick or
something is going to happen to him."
That something had already happened to him, but grandma was not aware of
it. For the first time in his life, Nick felt ashamed of himself. During
that long, long day he made a strong resolution, which he never purposely
broke, never to do anything to make himself or anybody else
ashamed.—Atwood Miller, in Youth's Evangelist.
* * * * *
"O! There are many actors who can play
Greatly great parts, but rare indeed the soul
Who can be great when cast for some small role;
Yet that is what the world most needs,—big hearts
That will shine forth and glorify poor parts
In this strange drama, Life."