In New England
, the sons of farmers begin to make themselves useful almost as soon as they can walk.
They feed the chickens, they drive the cows, they bring in wood and water, and soon come to perform all those offices which come under the denomiation of ‘chores
By the time they are eight or nine years old, they frequently have tasks assigned them, which are called ‘stints,’ and not till they have done their stint are they at liberty to play.
The reader may think that Horace
's devotion to literature would naturally enough render the farm work distasteful to him; and if he had gone to the academy, it might.
I am bound, however, to say that all who knew him in boyhood, agree that he was not more devoted to study in his leisure hours, than he was faithful and assiduous in performing his duty to his father during the hours of work.
is the word.
He could be trusted
any where, and to do anything within the compass of his strength and years.
It was hard, sometimes, to rouse him from his books; but when he had been roused, and was entrusted with an errand or a piece of work, he would set about it vigorously and lose no time till it was done.
‘Come,’ his brother would say sometimes, when the father had set the boys a task and had gone from home; ‘come, Hod, let's go fishing.’
‘No,’ Horace would reply, in his whining voice, ‘let us do our stint first.’
‘He was always
in school though,’ says his brother, ‘and as we hoed down the rows, or chopped at the woodpile, he was perpetually talking about his lessons, asking questions, and narrating what he had read.’
Fishing, it appears, was the only sport in which Horace took much pleasure, during the first ten years of his life.
But his love of fishing did not originate in what the Germans call the ‘sport impulse.’
Other boys fished for sport; Horace fished for fish.
He fished industriously
, keeping his eyes unceasingly on the float, and never distracting his own attention, or that of the fish, by conversing with his companions.
The consequence was that he would often catch more than all the rest of the party put together.
Shooting was the favorite amusement of the boys of the neighborhood, but Horace could rarely be persuaded to take part in it. When he did accompany a shooting-party, he would never carry or discharge a gun, and when the game was found he would lie down and stop his ears till the murder had been done.