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“ I was,” replied Clinton, colouring, as some secret remembrance was awakened by the inquiry.
“ You have been accustomed to writing, to books, and to accounts ?” asked the pastor. Clinton replied in the affirmative. “ But for this untoward affair, I should have been glad to accept your services,” said the pastor.
“ You honour me,” said Clinton, bowing; and while the receding flush left a paleness on his cheek, a half smile played on his lips.
“ And now, Nicholas Clinton," cried the pastor, “ let us hear your answer to the settler's son.”
“ No, sir,” said Clinton, with a negligent air; “ I make no answer to him, whom I too perfectly despise ! I would not put myself to the trouble. He has declared my offence—it is for you to give judgment, (which I trust will be severe enough to satisfy the farmer,) and so the matter is concluded.”
The pastor deliberated, and found it difficult to entertain a serious belief that Clinton's intentions had really been of so guilty a nature as Dan described. The latter had evidently been reluctant to give his testimony, and had faltered in different parts of it; he had contradicted himself more than once,
and both at the commencement and termination had said with anxiety, that perhaps Clinton might not have meant exactly what he said.
Then the pastor considered what Clinton had remarked concerning his own disposition and habits ; and the good man could not but feel that the scholar must have been very much out of his proper element here, where manners were so rough, language so unpolished, ignorance of literature so entire. He saw at once that the settler and Clinton could never have assimilated, and therefore far
mer Joshua's bitterness did not in the least prejudice his mind against the young man, but on the contrary, rather disposed him to be lenient. Suspicions more than once crossed his mind, that the whole charge was an invention on the part of Dan, and it was under this impression that he again requested Clinton to defend himself if he could do so.
Sir,” said Clinton, “ only to yourse!f will I condescend to make any remarks upon this most extraordinary accusation; and I entertain not the remotest hope that by them, I shall at all succeed in removing the stain from my character. Reputation is a brittle thing, and once broken, there is no repairing it. But you will perhaps be surprised if I attempt to turn my enemy's weapons against himself; in other words, if I charge him with the very design which he has said was mine. He told me there were dollars to a considerable amount concealed here, or I should not have known that circumstance; and he needed my counsel how to turn the money to most account, or he would not have risked a discovery by placing confidence in me. When I was fully master of his intentions, I resolutely told him, that, if he did not immediately swear to abandon them, I would expose him; then, as I imagine, fear drove him upon this supposed remedy—and I am made the scape-goat of his guilt.”
“ What depravity !” exclaimed the pastor. whatever part of the world men go, there does evil flourish among them !” Now
may I never handle an axe, or shoulder a rifle more,” cried the settler “ if this is not the blackest lie that ever mortal coined ! Dan! havn't you a word to say for yourself? Are you struck dumb ? I'd wager my
right arm, boy, you should speak quick enough, if it
rn’t for the law, you should !”
The pastor fixed a frowning look on the settler's son, who displayed to appearance all the signs of guilt on his face, his eyes being wildly fixed on Clinton, while his lips moved inarticulately, and a burning red hue ensanguined his bronzed visage.
Dan had been the least liked in the settler's household, except by his father, who regarded all his children equally with strict impartiality. At this unexpected turn of affairs, family pride naturally inclined even those who had always been jarring with him, to stand forward for his vindication ; but when they saw his confused, alarmed looks, and observed, as they construed it, his guilty silence, one whispered with the other, and no one spoke for him but the settler himself.
“ Where are you,—his brothers—his sisters—his mother?” cried farmer Joshua, casting his eye down the room: “ have you no nat'ral feeling for the boy! Is there none among you who will use your tongue for him? Shame!-Shame! You could talk fast enough for a worthless puppy!”
“ Dan's got a tongue of his own, let him deny what Clinton says,” said the eldest daughter. “If it is not true, let him say so."
“ Speak, fool-speak!” cried the settler, turning imperatively to his spell-bound son. “ Tell the gentlemanrogue he lies!”
“I darn't father-I darn’t,” at length articulated Dan, with difficulty, and then throwing himself down upon a seat, he hid his face.
The settler groaned, and walked at once into the open
air. The pastor arose :
“ There is no more to be done,” said he: “ I leave you, Daniel, to your conscience, and to the natural punishments which wrong-doing brings. As a justice, I conclude here, I have no means whereby to demonstrate your offence more perfectly, neither are they needed. I am afraid that even your nearest friends concur in convicting you. My office as a minister, however, gives me the privilege of entreating you to let this timely discovery, work your ultimate good. I will not think you are yet familiar with thoughts of crime—I would rather suppose that you have been tempted beyond your strength, and so have let go your honesty only for a time ;-God knows! This young man, Nicholas Clinton, was a stranger in your house ; he had been torn by a mysterious providence from the society to which he had been accustomed; he was far from his relatives and friends; and yet you would have laid upon him the imputation of guilt he never committed, and have seen him driven from your father's house, innocent, yet a miserable and degraded man-branded with your crime !"
The pastor buttoned up his coat, and pressed his hat on more firmly, then grasped his walking cane in his right hand, and replaced his cambric handkerchief in his pocket. “I wish you all good day,” said he to the assembled family of the settler. “My Lucy will be this way I suppose to-morrow, with her brother, and may step in among you to dinner, if they will be welcome.”
“ It is many a month since I saw them,” said the settler's wife. “ I thought they had clean put us out of mind. Farmer Joshua will have some plump fruit for them to taste; it is as good as any raised by Mr. Arthur, so you may tell him, pastor.” She endeavoured to con
ceal the pain which the disgrace of her son occasioned her, and looked as lively as usual, when she came out at the door to see the pastor depart.
“ I had nearly forgot,” said he, “ the young man within, dame, will hardly like to stay in the farm after this occurrence; and his presence might very possibly stand in the way of Daniel's reconciliation with his father, besides causing unforeseen unpleasantries. Now as he is destitute of a home, and as employment suitable to his attainments does not abound in these districts, I will take him to assist my grandson and myself in our little nest among the rocks, if it be agreeable to him, to you, and to the farmer.”
“ As for me," said the settler's wife, “ I shall be heartily glad to see him so well provided for, and we can't think old Joshua will be sorry to lose him. To speak the sober truth, Pastor Wilson, Clinton has been of very little service to him—he is too clever, and too bookish, for our way of life; he would never make a farmer while the world lasts."
“ You are exactly of my opinion,” said the pastor ; " and it happens fortunately that just such an one as Clinton I have for some time wished to have with me,
“ Yes,” interrupted the settler's wise, without ceremony, very true; and as I was saying, Pastor Wilson, Clinton is no helper to old Joshua ; and I can't say, if the truth be told, but I shall be glad to see him away, if I only know he is comfortable; for he is a gentleman, that I'll say, and very civil and obliging to me and the girls. I have long seen something in Dan, pastor," she said, with a sigh, “ that I have not liked; and I must