"Yes, Luke, I am in trouble. Aaron Harrington owns a mortgage on my farm. I can't pay him, and he threatens to take my home," said Mr. Randal, with a quivering lip. "I went to his office, but didn't find him, and I thought may be you'd advise me what to do."
"Mr. Randal," answered the merchant, laying his hand on the old man's shoulder, "almost thirty years ago when I was cold, and hungry, and friendless, you took me in and fed me. Your good wife - God bless her! - made me a suit of clothes with her own hands. You found me work, and you gave me money when I begun the world alone. Much if not all that I am in life I owe to your sympathy and help, my kind old friend. Now I am rich, and you must let me cancel my debt. I shall pay your mortgage to-day. You shall have your home free again."
Mr. Randal wiped great hot tears from his cheeks, and said, in a husky voice, "It is just as I told Martha. I knew, if we lent our money to the Lord, when a dark day came, He would provide."
The reader can imagine the different feelings of the two boys, as they sat witnesses of the scene. The look of derision, that changed to an expression of sickly dismay, on Albert's face, when the old man came in and was so warmly greeted by the merchant, was curiously suggestive. But his usual assurance soon returned. He thought it unlikely that Mr. Randal would recognize him in the daylight, and he determined to put on a bold front.
For a minute the two men continued in conversation. Mr. Conway called up pleasant reminiscences of "Aunt Martha," his boy-life on the farm, and the peace and stillness of the country town. He thought a railway ride of a hundred miles must be quite a hardship for a quiet old man. "It was a long way for you," he said, "Did you have a comfortable journey?"
"Well, I can't quite say that. First, the stage broke down and delayed me. Then I slept in the cars, and a boy played a trick on me, and waked me up, and made me get out at the wrong station, so I had to stay over night in Whipple Village. To tell the truth I had a great deal of worriment with one thing and another, getting here; but it's all right now," he added, with a radiant face.
"You shall go with me to my house and rest, as soon as I have dismissed these boys," said Mr. Conway, earnestly; and turning to Albert and Lyman, who anxiously waited, he spoke to them about their errand.
"I suppose you came because you saw my advertisement?"
"Yes, sir," replied both, simultaneously.
"Very well. I believe you came in first," he began, turning to Albert. "What is your name?"
"I am Albert Gregory, sir. I think I can suit you. I've brought testimonials of ability and character from some of the first men - Esq. Jenks, Rev. Joseph Lee, Dr. Henshaw, and others. Here are my letters of recommendation," holding them out for Mr. Conway to take.
"I don't care to see them," returned the merchant, coldly. "I have seen you before. I understand your character well enough for the present."
He then addressed a few words to Lyman Dean.
"I should be very glad of work," said Lyman. "My mother is poor, and I want to earn my living, but I haven't any testimonials."
"Yes, you have," said old Mr. Randal, who was waiting for an opportunity to say that very thing. And then he told the merchant how polite and helpful Lyman had been to him.
Mr. Conway fixed his eyes severely upon the other boy. The contrast between him and young Dean was certainly worth a lesson.
"Albert Gregory," said the merchant, "I occupied the seat in the car in front of you last evening. I heard you exultingly and wickedly boasting how you had deceived a distressed and helpless old man. Mr. Randal, is this the boy who lied to you, and caused you to get out at the wrong station?"
"I declare! Now I do remember him. It is! I'm sure it is," exclaimed the old gentleman, fixing his earnest eyes full upon the crimson face of the young man.
It was useless for Albert to attempt any vindication of himself. His stammered excuses stuck in his throat, and he was glad to hide his mortification by an early escape. Crestfallen, he slunk away, taking all his "testimonials" with him.
"Lyman," said Mr. Conway kindly, "I shall be very glad to employ you in my store. You shall have good pay if you do well, and I am sure you will. You may begin work at once."
Lyman's eyes danced with joy as he left the room to receive his instructions from the head clerk.
Mr. Conway furnished the money to pay the debt due to Mr. Harrington by Mr. Randal, and a heavy load was lifted from the good old farmer's heart. He remained a visitor two or three days in Mr. Conway's house, where he was treated with the utmost deference and attention.
Mr. Conway also purchased for him a suit of warm clothes, and an overcoat, and sent his confidential clerk with him on his return journey to see him safely home. Nor was good Mrs. Randal forgotten. She received a handsome present in money from Mr. Conway, and a message full of grateful affection. Nothing ever after occurred to disturb the lives of the aged and worthy pair.
Albert Gregory secured an excellent situation in New York, but his false character, and his wanton disregard of others - feelings and rights, made him as hateful to his employers as to all his associates, and it soon became necessary for him to seek another place.
He has changed places many times since, and his career has been an unhappy one - another example of the results of frivolous habits and a heartless nature.
Lyman Dean became successful, a partner of Mr. Conway, and occupies a worthy position as an honorable, enterprising man. But best of all, he is a Christian, and finds deep satisfaction and happiness in the service of Him who has said: -
"Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear thy God."
The Story "Lyman Dean's Testimonials"
is public domain.