"Anna, though you may not see or even hear from me for many years, I will be true to you, and I hope when I do return, that I may bring wealth enough to claim you as my own. You will not forget me?"
" Forget you, never! and I know if we live, all will yet be well," and with these cheering words, Miles and Anna parted.
Miles Granger was the only son of the widow Granger, who lived in a little, brown . cottage near the outskirts of the village of Denton. This small house and half of an acre of land was all the widow had left toward a support for herself and her son when her husband died, ten years before, but by cultivating this little spot and by taking in what work she could get of the villagers, she managed to live comfortably and give her son a fair education.
When Miles was seventeen years of age, he obtained a situation as clerk in the store of Mr. Holmes, a wealthy merchant, in an adjoining village. It was then that the widowed mother felt that her prospects for the future wore a brighter hue than they had before for years. But soon her health began to fail, and for several months previous to the opening of our story she had not even been able to do her own work and had been obliged to look entirely to her son for support.
Miles was a noble-hearted youth, and all that he could do for his invalid mother was cheerfully done, and now that Mr. Holmes had turned him out of employment he felt it more keenly on his mother's account than on his own, yet he believed that the Heavenly Father, in whom his mother had trusted so many years, would not forsake them now, and he felt the happy consciousness of knowing that he had served his employers honestly and faithfully for the past three years. It was only because he had dared to whisper words of love to his daughter that Mr. Holmes had called him an ungrateful knave, and that morning had turned him out of his employ and forbidden his ever again darkening his doors. In vain Miles tried to say a word in self-defense. The proud man, whose anger increased as he went on, would not listen to a word, but, waving his hand haughtily, said, impatiently:
"Begone! I have no forgiveness for such as you. What I have said, I mean. Thenceforth you and Anna must be strangers, and I would not help you again if I saw you perishing in the street. Go ! I will not hear a word from such an ungrateful dog! "
With a heavy heart Miles descended the steps of the stately mansion, where so many bright hours of his life had been passed, and wended his way toward his invalid mother's cottage-home. As he was passing. through a narrow strip of, wood, just out of the village, brooding sorrowfully over his blighted prospects, a voice, sad but very sweet to him, gently called his name. It was Anna, who, having overheard the angry words of her father, had come to offer words of sympathy and say a last good-bye.
"Troubles never core singly!" On arriving at home Miles found his mother much worse, and but a few days passed before the messenger of death entered and bore her sanctified spirit to its final home. Her work on earth was finished, her cares were over, and her Father called her to meet the loved one gone so long before, and who waited at Heaven's portal to welcome her to the abode of the blest.
Miles sat alone in that deserted home sat alone in sorrow and gloom. No kindly voice was there to greet him. No gentle hand, with loving touch, to press upon his aching head. No mother now to lavish tender care upon her darling boy. His heart seemed almost breaking with its weight of woe. He stepped out into the open air to divert his mind by gazing upon nature's works. Just then he heard the gate close and footsteps approach - ing. It was a neighbor returning from the postoffice, who handed him a letter, but declining Miles' kind invitation to come in, he passed on; only saying it was from New York and he hoped there might be cheering news in it.
Miles wondered who of the many thousands in that great city would write to him.
It proved to be from a Mr. Lockwood, a wholesale merchant there, of whom Mr. Holmes had purchased goods, a gentleman whom Miles had frequently met in the store and at the home of his employer. Mr. Lockwood had often noticed how honestly and faithfully Miles attended to his business, and when he found that Miles was turned out of Mr. Holmes' employ and learned the reason, he resolved to secure his services in his own establishment, if such a thing was possible, and accordingly wrote, offering him a situation. This generous and timely offer Miles gladly accepted. Gradually the expression of sorrow so visible on his features settled into one of calm and quiet resignation. Hope began to revive, and alone he knelt there and thanked God for this new friend He had sent him in this dark hour of despondency.
Though Miles and Anna dearly loved each other, they expected to wait several years before they could be able to commence life together, for Miles would never have asked Mr. Holmes for his daughter's hand in marriage until he had a home of his own and means Iaid by sufficient with his yearly salary to support a wife independently; and they doubted not but that day would sometime come, and dreamed not that they should meet with any opposition when it did. But one evening, when they were talking of their plans the father overheard enough of their conversation to let him into the secret, and fearing his daughter, whom he almost idolized, and for whom he had such brilliant hopes, would marry an humble clerk with no means but his yearly wages and a widowed mother to support out of these, all the pride of his nature was aroused, and in a moment of haste and anger he summoned the youth into his presence and accused him of baseness and ingratitude and bade him seek employment elsewhere.
Two years have passed since Miles Granger entered the magnificent establishment of Mr. Lockwood, and he had so surely won the confidence of his employer and the esteem of all the hands connected with the business that his position and salary had been repeatedly increased, and all felt that they could not well do without him.
One pleasant morning before any one around but Miles was stirring, Mr. Lockwood came bustling into the store, holding in his hand an open letter. " Miles, said he, while a happy smile beamed from his face, "Barber, you know, is going to leave us soon to commence business for himself, and I offer you his place here and salary. Will you accept it?"
Now Miles' thoughts by day and dreams by night for the past few weeks had been occupied with a wish that he was capable of filling this man's place. He had thought if he could only get this situation it would be the crowning glory of his happiness, for with such a salary he might soon save enough to win Anna from her money-loving father for his bride, and when this situation was so unexpectedly offered him he was so overjoyed that he hardly knew how to express his thankfulness.
When the bargain was completed, Mr. Lockwood handed him the open letter, saying:
"Perhaps you would like to know who is to take your place?"
Miles glanced at the letter, almost wondering if his eyes did not deceive him. It was from Anna's father. There was no mistake, for he well knew his handwriting, and there was his name, Marshall Holmes, signed too plainly to be mistaken. He was asking for employment, begging for a situation however humble, so that he might earn enough to keep his family from starving.
Mr. Lockwood, noticing Miles' surprised manner, said:
Had you not heard of his failure in business? I supposed you knew of it and that you would rather rejoice that your prospects for the coming year were so much better than his. His pride must be somewhat humbled, I think," and Mr. Lockwood cast a searching glance toward Miles, for he had heard why Mr. Holmes had turned him away, and now his hour of triumph had come, and he was glad for Miles' sake that it had.
Miles did not notice the earnest look and neither did he answer immediately, for he was thinking of Anna and the great change in her life since he saw her last, and he longed to meet her now and shield her if possible from the rough blast of adversity, for oh, how her words had cheered him through his dark hours of sorrow and gloom, and now she, perhaps, needed words of sympathy from him as much, and he wished to hasten to her and tell her how truly he loved her and how anxiously he had waited for the time to come when he could call her his own. Then came a thought of the proud father who had even barred him from all the happiness there would have been in a correspondence, who had called him such harsh names and turned him out of employment when he greatly needed it, just because he was not wealthy, and for a few moments human nature triumphed and he gloried in the prospects of having this proud man a clerk under himself. But it was only for a few moments and Miles' better self conquered. Mr. Holmes' unkindness was forgiven and he only thought of him as he was before it happened-his kind benefactor, his almost father —and Miles' face brightened as he thought how he could assist him without wounding his pride, and he said:
"Mr. Lockwood, I have a favor to ask. You know Mr. Holmes to be fully competent to fill the place you have just now so kindly offered me, do you not?"
"Yes, I think he is, or would be as soon as he became acquainted with the regulations of the house."
"Then I wish you would be so kind as to give him this place and let me keep my old one."
"No, Granger, you cannot mean this. I know some-thing of Mr. Holmes' haughty insolence toward you, and you, surely, would not miss this opportunity of humbling his pride. No, Miles, you cannot be so generous. I can-not permit it," said Mr. Lockwood in an excited manner.
"The man's pride, no doubt, is sufficiently humbled without this," answered Miles, "and should he take a position beneath me, it would place us both in an unpleasant situation; besides, he needs the larger salary more than I, and I beg you to grant my wish in this matter if it would be as well for you."
Mr. Lockwood did not reply for several moments, but at length he said: "Well, Miles, have it your own way, though I think you deeply wrong yourself by this decision."
" Better suffer wrong than do wrong," was the young man's reply, as he returned to business.
" Miles Granger, I believe, is the most magnanimous person I have ever known, but I honor him for it and he shall not suffer for it," said Mr. Lockwood half aloud, as he turned to his desk to answer Mr. Holmes' letter.
As soon as Mr. Holmes received the letter that brought him such a splendid offer, he hastened to the city to enter upon his new duties, and to his surprise the first one he met as he entered the store was Miles Granger, for he had not known what had become of him since in that fit of anger he had turned him from his door. Mr. Holmes had long since repented of that act of rashness, and had thought if he should ever chance to meet Miles he would ask his forgiveness for the unkind words he then uttered. Mr. Holmes' reverse of fortune had completely subdued his pride of property and made him a wiser and a better man. Wealth, in his eyes, no longer made the person. He looked upon money now as valuable only for the comforts of life that it would bring to those he loved and the good he might do with it. He could now see worth without wealth, people without property. His bitter trial of adversity had been a severe school, but in it he had learned many a noble lesson. It needed but a few moments when both were so ready to forgive to complete the work of reconciliation between Miles and Mr. Holmes.
As soon as possible after their renewal of friendship, Miles hastened to visit Anna, and of that happy meeting it is needless for us to speak. Suffice it to say that ere many months had passed Miles had claimed her for his bride.
Though Miles retained his place in the store for that year, Mr. Lockwood made his salary equal to that of Mr. Holmes, and at the close of the year a new name appeared on the Lockwood establishment. It was the name of "Lockwood and Granger," and Mr. Holmes retains the position that Miles so generously resigned for him, only glad that he can work for so good a firm and proud to claim such a generous-hearted man as Miles Granger for his son.
( Originally Published 1887 )
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