influence upon Abrahams character and life. The fact that he read the volume so much as to commit the larger part of it to memory adds force to this opinion.
With two new books of such absorbing interest, it was not strange that Abraham was disposed to neglect his daily labour. His father could readily discover that Æsop had more attractions for him than axe or hoe. Nor was he inclined to break the spell that bound him, until he actually feared that the books would make him lazy.
Come, Abe, you mustnt neglect your work; weve lots to do, and books must not interfere, was his fathers gentle rebuke.
In a minute, answered the boy, just like most other boys of that age who are book-worms.
Thats what makes boys lazy, waitin to play or read when they ought to be at work, continued his father. All study and no work is most as bad as all work and no study.
Only a minute, and Ill go, added Abraham, so absorbed in his book that he scarcely knew what answer he made.
It must be a short minute, retorted his father, in a tone of injured authority.
Ill work hard enough to make it up when I get at it, said Abraham, still delaying.
I dont know about that. Im feared that your thoughts will be somewhere else; so put down the book and come on.
With evident reluctance the young reader laid down his book, preliminary to obeying orders.
Good boys obey at once, continued his father; dont have to drive em like cattle.
I only wanted to read a minute longer, answered Abraham, by way of palliating his offence.
And I only wanted you shouldnt, exclaimed his father angrily. I know what is best for you. Im willin you should read and write, but you must work when work drives.
It was altogether new for Abraham to exhibit so much disobedience as he did after he became enthusiastic over The Pilgrims Progress and Æsops Fables. Nor was he conscious of possessing a disobedient spirit, for no such spirit was in his heart. He was simply infatuated with the new books.
We must not conceal the fact that his father had been somewhat annoyed by the boys method of improving his penmanship by writing with chalk or a charred stick upon almost any surface that came in his way. But for his paternal pride over this acquisition of his boy he might have checked him in this singular way of improvement. One incident occurred that served to reconcile his father in the main to his scrawls here and there, although he may have thought still that Abraham was carrying the matter too far.
An acquaintance came into the field where father and son were at work, when his eye was arrested by letters cut in the mellow soil.
Whats that? he inquired.
Abraham smiled, and let his father answer.
Why, this writing,it looks as if somebody had been writing on the ground.
Abes work, I spose.