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warning all human sympathy to keep its distance, was what the knowing ones called “nuts” to Scrooge.
9. Once upon a time-of all the good days in the year, upon Christmas Eve-old Scrooge sat busy in his countinghouse. It was cold, bleak, biting weather : foggy withal : and he could hear the people in the court outside, go wheezing up and down, beating their hands upon their breasts, and stamping their feet upon the pavement stones to warm them. The city clocks had only just gone three, but it was quite dark already—it had not been light all day—and candles were flaring in the windows of the neighboring offices, like ruddy smears upon the palpable brown air. The fog came pouring in at every chink and key-hole, and was so dense without, that, although the court was of the narrowest, the houses opposite were mere phantoms. To see the dingy cloud come drooping down, obscuring everything, one might have thought that Nature lived hard by, and was brewing on a large scale.
10. The door of Scrooge's counting-house was open, that he might keep his eye upon his clerk, who in a dismal little cell beyond, a sort of tank, was copying letters. Scrooge had a very small fire, but the clerk's fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal. But he could not replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room ; and so surely as the clerk came in with the shovel, the master predicted that it would be necessary for them to part. Wherefore the clerk put on his white comforter, and tried to warm himself at the candle ; in which effort, not being a man of strong imagination, he failed.
QUESTIONS.—1. What is an “undertaker"? What is meant by the expression “Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change,” etc. 3. What is an“ administrator" ? "assign”? “residuary legatee”? 5. What is meant by a “wiry chin ” ? Explain the last two sentences in the sixth paragraph. What double meaning in the phrase " came down handsomely”? 9. What kind of day must it have been to be dark at three o'clock? Is there any thing peculiar about the climate of London, where the scene of this story is laid ?
XV.—THE PLANTING OF THE APPLE-TREE.
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT. 1. Come, let us plant the apple-tree !
Cleave the tough greensward with the spade ;
And press it o'er them tenderly,
So plant we the apple-tree.
2. What plant we in the apple-tree?
Buds, which the breath of summer days
We plant upon the sunny lea
When we plant the apple-tree.
3. What plant we in the apple-tree?
Sweets for a hundred flowery springs,
A world of blossoms for the bee;
We plant with the apple-tree.
4. What plant we in the apple-tree ?
Fruits that shall swell in sunny June
While children, wild with noisy glee,
At the foot of the apple-tree.
5. And when above this apple-tree
The winter stars are quivering bright,
And guests in prouder homes shall see,
The fruit of the apple-tree.
6. The fruitage of this apple-tree
Winds and our flag of stripe and star
And they who roam beyond the sea
In the shade of the apple-tree.
7. Each year shall give this apple-tree
A broader flush of roseate bloom,
The years shall come and pass, but we
In the boughs of the apple-tree.
Oh, when its aged branches throw
What shall the tasks of mercy be,
Is wasting this apple-tree?
9. “Who planted this old apple-tree?"
The children of that distant day
“A poet of the land was he,
On planting the apple-tree.”
XVI.--THE GRATEFUL LAWYER.
J. G. HOLLAND. 1. Mr. Lincoln's early athletic struggle with Jack Armstrong, the representative man of the “ Clary's Grove Boys," will be remembered. From the moment of this struggle, which Jack agreed to call “a drawn battle,” in consequence of his own foul play, they became strong friends. Jack would fight for Mr. Lincoln at any time, and would never hear him spoken against. Indeed, there were times when young Lincoln made Jack's cabin his home, and here Mrs. Armstrong, a most womanly person, learned to respect the rising man.
2. There was no service to which she did not make her guest abundantly welcome, and he never ceased to feel the tenderest gratitude for her kindness. At length, her husband died, and she became dependent upon her sons. The oldest of these, while in attendance upon a camp-meeting, found himself involved in a melee, which resulted in the death of a young man; and young Armstrong was charged by one of his associates with striking the fatal blow. He was arrested, examined, and imprisoned to await his trial. The public mind was in a blaze of excitement, and interested parties fed the flame.
3. Mr. Lincoln knew nothing of the merits of this case, that is certain. He only knew that his old friend Mrs. Armstrong was in sore trouble ; and he sat down at once, and volunteered by letter to defend her son. His first act was to procure the postponement and a change of the place of the trial. There was too much fever in the minds of the immediate public to permit of fair treatment. When the trial came on, the case looked very hopeless to all but Mr. Lincoln, who had assured himself that the young man was not guilty.
4. The evidence on behalf of the state being all in, and looking like a solid and consistent mass of testimony against the prisoner, Mr. Lincoln undertook the task of analyzing and destroying it, which he did in a manner that surprised every one. The principal witness testified that “by the aid of the brightly-shining moon, he saw the prisoner inflict the death-blow with a slung shot.” Mr. Lincoln proved by the almanac that there was no moon shining at the time. The mass of testimony against the prisoner melted away, until “not guilty" was the verdict of every man present in the crowded court-room.
5. There is, of course, no record of the plea made on this occasion, but it is remembered as one in which Mr. Lincoln made an appeal to the sympathies of the jury which quite surpassed his usual efforts of the kind, and melted all to tears. The jury were out but half an hour, when they returned with their verdict of “not guilty.” The widow fainted in the arms of her son, who divided his attention between his services to her, and his thanks to his deliverer. And thus the kind woman who cared for the poor young man, and showed herself a mother to him in his need, received, as her reward, from the hand of her grateful beneficiary, the life of a son, saved from a cruel conspiracy.
QUESTION.-Was it right for Mr. Lincoln to offer to defend the young man before he knew whether he was guilty or not?