« PreviousContinue »
off work the evening before. 'I ask you,' said he, 'because I know he could not leave the mill without your seeing him.' Campbell was prepared for this question, and immediately replied, that Barton had said nothing to him about it: ' and for my part,' added he, 'I am sure I did not see him go out before his time, although I was close by the door all the afternoon.' With this answer Mr. Cowan was satisfied; for it was accompanied with a look and a manner which led him to believe that Campbell was sure Barton had been steady to his work.
"James Logan's mind, however, was not so easy on the subject. Campbell had spoken loud, and James had heard the last part of his answer. At the dinner hour, therefore, when he thought no one was near (although Mr. Cowan happened to be close behind the partition, and heard every word they said), he asked Robert how he could think of telling his master a lie. Campbell answered that he had told no lie; for Barton had never spoken to him about the nut-wood with his own mouth, and, you know,' added he, with a smile, when I shut my eyes, I could not see him going out: so, you know, I said nothing but the truth' 'Well, but,' answered James, 'you did not tell the whole truth. You concealed part of it on
purpose to deceive Mr. Cowan; and, as my poor aunt has often told me, whatever be the words you use, if you try to cheat anybody, you are every bit as wicked as if you told a downright lie.""
Here the farmer interrupted Mr. Meek. "It is very true, sir," said he, "that some ignorant people have strange notions of truth, and indeed of morality in general. I have known a man purposely cheating people by nods, and winks, and signs, and yet, because he used no false words, he has not seemed to be aware that he was doing a dishonest thing." "You are quite right,” replied Mr. Meek; "you may lie with your countenance and by your actions as well as with your lips. If a man, at the joining of the roads on the top of Errick-stanebrae, ask you the way to Glasgow, and you point to the Edinburgh road, on purpose to mislead him, though you should not utter a single syllable, you are in fact a liar. In short, the sin of lying consists, as James Logan said, in the intention to deceive." "And what did Robert Campbell say, when James told him this?" asked little Susan. "He was very much ashamed," answered Mr. Meek; "and said he saw that he had done wrong, but declared that he would not have spoken as he did if he had
known how wicked it was.
had no good aunt, like old Janet Logan, to tell him what was right and what was sinful. Oh, children!" added the good minister, “you can never be too thankful for parents who instruct you in your duty!
"Mr. Cowàn having come out of his room while the boys were together, Campbell seemed very much confused; and when Mr. Cowan said something which showed that he had heard their conversation, Robert begged his pardon for having deceived him. This Mr. Cowan readily granted, because he saw the poor boy was more to be pitied than blamed. He knew that his parents had shamefully neglected his education, and regarded his ignorance as a deplorable misfortune, rather than an inexcusable fault. I wish everybody was as ready to make allowances for his neighbour's failings!
"Although James discovered many errors in Campbell's conduct, he found him anxious to 'learn to do well! As the young man's heart was not totally corrupted, he improved rapidly, so that, in place of giving him up, James became more and more interested in his welfare. Mr. Cowan, too, kindly allowed both the lads to attend an evening school in the village, and
they made the best use of this indulgence by laying in a store of useful knowledge.
"One day, while James was busy at work, Mr. Cowan sent to tell him that two gentlemen in the house wished to speak with him. On entering the room, James found Mr. Hamilton and a stranger, of a genteel appearance, whom he had never seen before. 'Here is the young man whom I have so often mentioned to you,' said Mr. H. 'Had he not saved my life that stormy night, when I was on my way to visit you after your fall, you would, in all human probability, have died before morning.' By this introduction James found out that the stranger was Mr. Dunlop, of Laverock-know, in this parish. Mr. Dunlop kindly advanced and took James by the hand, saying, he had called on purpose to show his gratitude, and to ask if young Logan had any objection to go and live with him in the South. James thanked Mr. Dunlop for his offer, which he said he would instantly have accepted at Mr. Hamilton's recommendation, but that he could not think of leaving Mr. Cowan, to whom he was so much indebted. Well,' said Mr. Dunlop, 'I like to see you grateful to your benefactors, and shall not ask you to come against your will; but I am so much pleased with the account Mr.
Hamilton has given me of your obliging disposition, that I beg you may apply to me if you should ever wish to change your situation.'
"Soon after this," continued Mr. Meek, "James had it in his power to render his master a most essential service. He had gone to bed at the usual hour with Barton, and two other boys, and about midnight he awoke, and fancied he smelt fire. He called to his companions, but they were too sleepy to mind him. The smell became stronger. Come,' said he, jumping out of bed, 'let us see what is the meaning of this.' Barton began to bluster and swear, and the other boys declared they would not at the fash to stir a step ;—but before they had well time to turn themselves round to sleep again, James was half way down stairs. In short, he found that, by some accident, the paper in the drying-room had caught fire. He instantly gave the alarm, and by great exertions the flames were extinguished; but, had it not been for his activity, all the buildings, with their machinery, and the whole stock of goods, would certainly have been destroyed, and several lives would, in all probability, have been lost. Indeed, it was with great difficulty that Barton and his lazy companions were extricated from their perilous situation. Mr. Cowan said, he believ