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Tip Lewis and His Lamp

CHAPTER XXIII.

"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver."

Behold Tip, now in Albany, far away from home and friends, from every one that he had ever seen before, save Mr. Howard Minturn, young Howard's uncle. But he had been there some time, and was growing into a settled-at-home feeling. It had been a wonderful change to him. Mr. Minturn did not board his clerks; but for some reason, best known to himself, he had taken Tip home with him. For a few days the boy felt as though the roses on the carpets were made of glass, and would smash if he stepped on them. But he was getting used to it all; he could sit squarely on his chair at the table instead of on the edge, spread his napkin over his lap as the others did, and eat his pie with a silver fork under the light of the sparkling gas.

"Mother," said little Alice Minturn, "why does father have Edward board here, and sit at the table with us?"

"Because, Alice, your father wants to help him in every way; your uncle Minturn thinks he is an unusually good, smart boy."

"I think so too," said Alice, and was satisfied.

And Tip Lewis was Tip no longer; no one knew him by that name; every one there said "Edward," save the store clerks, and they called him "Ed."

He had a queer feeling sometimes that he was somebody else, and that Tip Lewis, whom he used to know so well, would be very much astonished if he could see him now.

He went into Sabbath school, and became a member of Mr. Minturn's Bible class; but teachers were scarce, and before he had been there three weeks Mr. Minturn sent him to take charge of a class of very little boys, who called him "Mr. Lewis," and made him feel strange and tall. He began to realize that he was almost sixteen years old, and growing very fast.

He was leading a very busy life now-a-days; at work all day, in and for the store, and in the evening doing all he could with his books. Those books and his love for them were a great safeguard to him, kept him away from many a temptation to go astray; and yet it was hard work to accomplish much in the little time he had, and with no helper. Sometimes he sighed wearily, and felt as though the road was full of stones.

"I pity you, old fellow," one of the younger clerks said to him one evening, as they were leaving the store.

"I don't know for what," was the good-natured answer.

"Why, Mr. Minturn's pink of a perfect and wonderful and altogether amazing son Ray has just got home from the University; saw him pass the store not an hour ago, leaning back in the carriage like a prince."

"What's he?" asked Edward.

"He's a prig; that's what he is."

"What's a prig?"

"Ho! you're a greeney, if you don't know what a prig is. Wait till he snubs you and lords it over you awhile; then I guess you'll know. He'll have a good chance, seeing you're right there at the house all the while. I wouldn't be in your shoes for a penny."

Spite of its making him a great greeney, Edward did not know what a prig was; but, judging from his companion's tone, he decided that it must be something very disagreeable. He went home feeling cross and uncomfortable, wishing that Ray were anybody in the world rather than Mr. Minturn's son, or anywhere else rather than at home. He was beginning to have such a nice time there; they were all so kind to him, and really seemed to like him. It was too bad to have it all spoiled.

"I know what kind of a fellow he is," he muttered to himself; "he's like that Mr. Symonds who comes to the store twice a week or so after kid gloves, and acts as if he thought he was a great deal too good to ask me a decent question. My! I wish he was in Texas."

The dining-room was a blaze of light when he peeped in, soon after the family were gathered waiting for Mr. Minturn. The newcomer sat on the sofa, one arm a-round little Alice, and the other resting gently on his mother's lap. Edward guessed, by his mother's face, that she did not wish he was in Texas. Mr. Minturn came in presently, and Edward stole into the room just behind him; but Alice called him eagerly:

"Edward, Ray has come! Come over here and see him."

"Go ahead," said Mr. Minturn, as Edward stood still, with very red cheeks; and Ray sat up and held out his hand.

"How do you do, Edward? Alice has been making me acquainted with you this afternoon, so you're not a stranger."

How very clear and kind his tones were! Edward was astonished. That same evening he was more astonished. He was in the library, at work over his books; Mr. Minturn had to go to a committee meeting, expecting to be detained late; as he arose from the dinner-table, he said,—

"How am I to get in to-night? Here's my night-key in two pieces."

"I'll be night-key, sir," said Edward promptly.

"Well, you may; you can take your books to the library, and have a long evening to pore over them."

So he was there, poring over them with all his might, when the door opened gently, and Ray Minturn came in.

"Are you hard at work?" he asked kindly.

"Yes, sir," said Edward, wishing he would go out again. But he didn't seem in a hurry to do so; he took a book from the case, and glanced over it a moment, then came towards Edward.

"What are you studying?"

"Fractions," answered Edward briefly.

"Do you have any trouble?"

"Yes, lots," speaking a little crossly, for he wanted to go on with his work; "I can't get this one I'm at, to save my head."

"Suppose I see what is the matter." And Bay drew a chair to the table and sat down, glancing his eye over the slate.

"Rather, suppose you see for yourself," he said in a few moments. "Just run over that multiplication at the top of the slate."

"Oh, bother!" Edward said, after he had obeyed orders; "that figure three has made me all this trouble."

"Smaller things than figure threes make trouble. Have you been to school lately?"

"Always, till I came here; but I might just as well have been out until last winter."

"What happened last winter?"

"Lots of things," answered Edward, with brightening eyes. But he didn't seem disposed to state any of them; so, after waiting a little, Ray asked,—

"Wouldn't you get on faster with your books if you had a teacher?"

"Think likely I should; but I haven't got any, so I'll have to get on as fast as I can."

"How would it do if I should play teacher while I am at home, and give you the hour from nine till ten?"

Edward laid down his pencil, turned his eyes for the first time full upon Kay, and looked at him in silent astonishment.

"Do you mean it?" he asked at last.

"Certainly I do; I shouldn't say so if I didn't. Don't you think you would like it?"

"Like it! I guess I would. But I don't know—What do you do it for?"

"Because I am glad to help a boy who seems to be trying to help himself. We will consider it settled, then. It is ten o'clock; will you come out to prayers now?"

And at this the astonished look on Edward's face deepened.

"Is Mr. Minturn here?" he asked.

"No; but his son is. Are you so surprised that I should have prayers in my father's absence?"

"Yes," said Edward; "I didn't know—I mean I didn't think"—

"You didn't think I had learned to pray, perhaps. Thank God, I have." Then he laid his hand kindly on Edward's shoulder. "Have you learned that precious lesson yet, my friend?"

"Yes," said Edward softly; "a good while ago."

"I am very glad; you will never learn anything else that is quite so important. What is all the study for, by the way? Have you any plans.'"

"Yes," said Edward, astonished at what he was about to tell to a stranger; "I want to get an education, and then, if I possibly can do that, I want to be a minister."

Ray's hand fell from his shoulder, and when he answered this, his voice was low and a little sad:

"God bless you, and help you. I hope you will never have to give it up."

Edward made up his mind that night that a prig meant the best and kindest,—yes, and the wisest young man in the world.

 

 

 

 


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