Press enter after choosing selection

The Silver Tankard

The Silver Tankard image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

Oí) a slope of land opening to the scmtii, in a now thickly-settledtown in the state of Maine, some hundred and more yeais ago, stood a ïarmhouse to which the epithet "comfortable" might be applied. The oíd forest carne down to the back of it; in front were sultivated fielda; bey oud which was rround partially cleared, full of pine rtumps, and here and tbere, standing a-ect, the giant trtinks of trees, which ;ha flre had scorched and blackened, :hough it had f ai led to overthrow 'hem. The house stood at the very verge of the settlement, so that trom it no other cottage could be seen; the nearest neighbor was distant about six miles. Daniel Gordon, the owner and occupant of the premises we have described, bad choaen this valley in the wilderness, a wide, rich tract of land, not only as lus home, but, prospectively, as the home of bis children and hin children's children. He was willing to be fax off f rom men, that lus children might have oom to settle around him. He waa looked uponas the rich man of that i' ,..,.H lrmiiim Airar Hl'f". navh iY the country. Ilis house was completely ftnished, and was large for the times, having two stories in front and one behind, with a long, sloping rooi'; it seemert as if it leaned to the south, to offer lts back to the cokl winds from the northern mountains. It was full of the comforts of life - the f urniture a little showy for a ;an; and-when the table was set there was, to use a Yankee phrase, "considerable" silver plate, amoiig which a arge silver tankard stood pre-eminent. l'his silver luid been the property of nis father, and had been brought over from the mother country Now we will go back to thispleasant valley as it was on a bright and beautiiul morning in the month of June. Tt was Sunday; and though early, thetwo sous of Daniel Gordon and the hired man had gone to meeting, on foot, to the Landing, a little village on the banks of the river, ten miles distant. Daniel himselí was standing at the door, with the horse and chaise, ready and waiting for his good wife, whohad been somewhat detained. He was standing at the door-step eujoying the freskness of tlie morning, witli a little pride in bis heart, perkaps, as he cast his eye over the extent of his possesaions spread before him. At that instant a neighbor, of six miles' distance rode up on horseback, and beckoned to him from the gate oí the enclosure around the house. "Good morning, neigiibor GrOrdoc,' said he. "I have come out oí my way in goiiig to meeting tó tell you that Toni Suiith - that rtaring thief- with two others, have been seen prowling about in these parta, and that you ha( better look out lest you have a visit. have got nothing in my house to bring them there, but they may be afteryou silver tankard, néightior, and the silve spoons. 1 have oíten told you tli these tilinga were not iit for these new parts. Tom is a boid fellow, but suppose the íewer he uieels when h goes to steal the better. 1 don't tliin it safe for you all to be off to meeting to-day; but I am in a hurry, noighbor, so good-bye." Tbia communication placed our f riend Daniel in an unpleasaut dilemma. It had been settled that no one was to be left at home but his daughter Mehitable, a beautiful little girl about nine years old. Shall I stay or go? was the queation. Daniel was n Puiitan; he had stiict notiona of the duty of worshipiBg God in His temple, and he had faith that God would bless him only as he did his duty; but (hen he was a father, and little Hitty was the light and joy of hia eyès. But these Puritana were stern and unllinching. I wlll not even take ty rt'ith me; for 'twm niake lier cowamiy. The thieves may not corne; neighbor Perkins may be mistaken, and it' they do come to my house they will not hurt that child. At any raïe, she is in God's hands; and we will go to wbrship Ilim, who never foiaakes those who put their trust in Him. As he settled this, tbe little gin and her mother stepped to the chaise; the father saying to the child, "if any atrangers come, Hitty, treat thetn well. We can spare of our abundauce to the poor. What is silver and gold, when we think of God's Holy Word?" With these words on his lips he drove off - a troubled man, in spite of his religious trust; because he leí't his daugliter in tle derness alone. Little Hltty, as the daughter of a Puritan, was strictly brought up to observe the Lord's day. She knew that she ought to return to the house, but nature, for this once, at least, got the better of her training. "lío harm," thought slie, "to see the brood of chickens." Kor did she, when shehadgiven thein some water, go into the house; but loitered and lingered, hearing the robin sing, and Lollowing with her eye the bob'lincolu, as he flitted from shrub to shrub. She passed almost an hour out of the house, , because sbe did not wish to bö alone, and she did not fee! alone when slie was out among the birds, and was gathering here and there a little wild ilower. But at last she went in, took her Bible andseated herself at the window, sometimea reading and sometí ines looking out. As sbe was there seated, she saw men coming up toward the house, and she was right glad to sets them, for she lelt lonely, and there was a dreary, long day before her. 'ïather,' thouglit she, 'meant something when he told me to be kind to strangers. I suppose hts expected them. I wonder what keeps them all f rom meeting? liever mind; they shall see that I can do something, if I am little Hitty.' So putting down the Bible, she ran to meet them, happy, conflding, and even glad that they had come ; and without waiting for them to speak, she called to them ta come in with her, and said, 'I am all alone ; i f mother was here she would do more for but I will do all I can," and all this with a frank, loving heart, glad to do good to others, and glad to please her father, whose las; words wereto spare of their abundance to the weary traveler. Smith and his two companions entered. Now it was neither breakt'aaU Lime nor dinner-time, but about half way betwesn 'both ; but yet little Hetty'a head ras full of the direction, "Spare of our abundance," and almost bef ore they were fairly in the house, she asked if she would givfi tUem something to eat. Smith replied: "Yes, 1 will thank you my child, for we are all hungry." This was, indeed, a civil speech, ior the thief, half-starved, had been lurking in the woods to watch his chance to steal the silver tankard, aa soon as the men f olks had gone to meeting. -Símil I give you cold vidual, or will. you wait till I can cook soms meat?' 'We can't wait,' was thereply, 'give us what you havs ready, as soon as you eau.' 'I am glad you do not want me to cook for you - but I would do it if you did - because father would rather not have much cooking on days." Then away she tripped abo ut, making preparations for their repast. Smith himself lielped her out with the table. She spread upon it a clean white cloth, and placed upon it the silver spoons and the silver tankard, f uil oí 'old orchard,' as was the custom in those days, with i large quautity of wheaten bread and t dish of cold meat. I don't know why the silver spoons were put on - perhaps 'little Hitty thought they made the table look prottier. Af ter aU this was done she fcurned to Srnith, and with a cpurtesy told him that dinner was ready. Tlie child had been so lmsy in arranging her table, and so tliouahtfnl of housewiferv, she took lil.tle or 110 notice of thb aj.pearance or marmers of herguests. She did the work so cheerily and as freely, and was as unembarrassed as it she had been surrounded by lier father and mother and brothers. One of the thieves sat down doggedly, with his hands on his knees, and his face almost to his hands, lookinsr all the time on ;he (loor. Another, a younger and beteer looking man, stood confounded and if he had not been well brofcen into his trade ; and ot'ten would go biick to the window and look out, keeping his back to the child. Saiith, on the otker hand, looked unconcerned, as i f hehadquiteforgottenhis purpose, lie never once took his attention oft' the child, follwing lier with his eye ad she bustled about in arranging the dinnertable ; and there was even a half smile on his face. They all moved to the tae, Smith's chair at the head, one of s companions on eaoh side, and the nld at the foot, standing there to help ïer guests, and to be ready to go lor urther supulies as thev wereneeded. The raen ate a.s hungry men, almost n silence, drinking occnsionally from he tankard. AVhen they had one, Smith starled up uuddenly and aid, "Come! let'a go." "What!" exlaimed the old robber, "go withempty íamls when this silver ia hereV' lTt; eized the tankard. 'Put that down,' shouted Smith ; 'I'll shoot the man who ,akes a single Lhing from tbis house.' JQor Ilitty at once awoke to a sense ot ,he character of her guests; with tenor n her í'aue, yet with a chikllike frankïess, she ran Lo Smith, took holri oí his Land, aad looked into his face, as i she telt sure thit be would take care o her. ïlie oW thief, looking up to his yoau, coinpanion, and ünding thut iie wa reudy to give up the job, and teein that Smith was resolute, put down th tankard, growling likea do whichha had a bone taken irom liim. 'Fooi catch me ia your company again;' ant with such expressiona left the lious followed by the other. Smith put his hand on tlio head of tho child and sai d: 'don't be af raid; stay quiot in l.he huse; nobody shaH lmrt you.' Thus ended the visit of the thieves. Thus God preserved the property of those who had put their trust in him. What a story had the child to teil when the family came home! How hearty wa the thanksgiving that went up foom the family altar. A year or tv af ter this, poor Torn Smith was arrested for the commission of some crime, and was tried and sentenced to be executed. Daniel Gordwii heard of this, and that ha was eonflned in' jail in the seaport town.'to wait for the dveadfiil day when he was tobo liung up like a dog between heaven and earth. Gordon could not keep away from hita. He feit drawn to Mm for the pratection of his daughter, and went down to see hiin. WJien he eutered the dungeon, Smith was sea ted ; his face was paie, his hair waa tangled and matted together - for why should he care i'or his looka ? There was nn other expression in his countênance than that of irritation froiu being intruded upon, wheirhe wantod t o hear nothing, see nothing more of hia fellow man. He did not rise, oor even look up, nor return the ualutation of Gordon, who continued to stand before him. At last, as if wearied beyoiid endeavor, he asked: 'What do jou want of ine? Can't you let me alone even here 't' 'I caiüe,' said Gordon, 'to see you, because my daughter told me all you did for her when you - ' As ii' touched to the heart, Smith's whole appearance changed; an expression of deep interest came over his features ; he was iltogether a changed man. The sullen indifferenee passed away in un instant, 'Are you the father of that little girl? Oh, what a dear child she is! Is she well and happy? How I love to think of her. That's one pleasant thing I have to think oí'. For once I was treated like other men. Could I kiss her once I think I shoald be happier.' In this hurried manner he poured out an intensity of feeling little supposed to He in the bosom of a condemned felon. Gordon remained with Smith, whispering to him of peace beyond the grave for the penitent, smoothed in some degree his passage through the dark valley, and did not return to his family vmtil christian love could do no more for an erring brother, on whom scarcely before had the eyes of love rested: whose hand had been against all men because their hands had been against him. 1 have told the story more at length and interwoven some unimportant circumstances, but it is before you substantially as it was related to me. The main incidents are true; though, doubtless, as the story has been hauded down f rom generation to generation, it has been colored by the imagination. The silver tankard, as an heirloom, has descended iñ the family - the property of the daughter named Mehitable, and is now in the posse88ion of a clergyman's wife in Massachusetts.


Old News
Ann Arbor Democrat