Brighter Hours

Copy of “Pilgrim's Progress”—His Surprise—Æsop's Fables—A Treasure and its Influence—Books Interfere with Work—His Father's Reproof—Writing Name on the Earth—Charged with Laziness—The Charge repelled—Common to call Students Lazy—None Lazy who Improve every Moment—At Baldwin's Shop—Seeking Entertainment—Ramsay's “Life of Washington” read—“Robinson Crusoe” his Delight

Abraham deeply felt the change that death had wrought in his cabin home, and for weeks his mind was absorbed in his loss. Perhaps his oppressive sense of loneliness and his grief would have continued, but for an unexpected blessing that came to him in the shape of a book. His father met with a copy of The Pilgrim’s Progress at the house of an acquaintance, twenty miles away or more, and he borrowed it for Abraham. The boy was never more happily surprised than he was when his father, on his return, said:

“Look here, Abe, I’ve found somethin’ for you,” at the same time exhibiting the book.

“Found it!” exclaimed Abraham, supposing that his father meant that he picked it up in the woods or fields.

“No, no; you don’t understand me. I meant that I came across it at Pierson’s house, and I borrowed it for you.”

“Pilgrim’s Progress,” said Abraham, taking the book and reading the title; “that will be good, I should think.” He knew nothing about the book; he had never heard of it before.

“I shall want to hear it,” said his father. “I heard about that book many years ago, but I never heard it read.”

“What is it about?” asked Abraham.

“You’ll find that out by readin’ it,” answered his father.

“And I won’t be long about it neither,” continued Abraham. “I know I shall like it.”

“I know you will, too.”

“I don’t see how you know, if you never heard it read.”

“On account of what I’ve heard about it.”

And it turned out to be so. Abraham sat down to read the volume very much as some other boys would sit down to a good dinner. He found it better even than he expected. It was the first volume that he was provided with after the spelling-book, Catechism, and Bible, and a better one could not have been found. He read it through once, and was half-way through it a second time, when he received a present of another volume, in which he became deeply interested. It was Æsop’s Fables, presented to him, partly on account of his love of books, and partly because it would serve to occupy his mind and lighten his sorrow.

He read the fables over and over until he could repeat almost the entire contents of the volume. He was thoroughly interested in the moral lesson that each fable taught, and derived therefrom many valuable hints that he carried with him through life. On the whole, he spent more time over Æsop’s Fables than he did over The Pilgrim’s Progress, although he was really charmed by the latter. But there was a practical turn to the fables that interested him, and he could easily recollect the stories. Perhaps his early familiarity with this book laid the foundation for that facility at apt story-telling that distinguished him through life. It is easy to see how such a volume might beget and foster a taste in this direction. Single volumes have moulded the reader’s character and decided his destiny more than once, and that, too, when far less absorbing interest was manifested in the book. It is probable, then, that Æsop’s Fables exerted a decided

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