to hear his mother's songs and stories, to play with his brother and sisters, to get assistance from himself; and they liked to be there, where there was no stiffness, nor ceremony, nor discord.
Horace cared nothing for their noise and romping, but he could never be induced to join in an active game.
When he was not assisting some bewildered arithmetician, he lay in the old position, on his back in the fireplace, reading, always reading.
The boys would hide his book, but he would get another.
They would pull him out of his fiery den by the leg; and he would crawl back, without the least show of anger, but without the slightest inclination to yield the point.
There was a game, however, which could sometimes tempt him from his book, and of which he gradually became excessively fond.
It was draughts, or “checkers.”
In that game he acquired extraordinary skill, beating everybody in the neighborhood; and before he had reached maturity, there were few draught-players in the country—if any—who could win two games in three of Horace Greeley
His cronies at Westhaven
seem to have been those who were fond of draughts.
In his passion for books, he was alone among his companions, who attributed his continual reading more to indolence than to his acknowledged superiority of intelligence.
It was often predicted that, whoever else might prosper, Horace never would.
And yet, he gave proof, in very early life, that the Yankee
element was strong within him. In the first place, he was always doing
something; and, in the second, he always had something to sell
. He saved nuts, and exchanged them at the store for the articles he wished to purchase.
He would hack away, hours at a time, at a pitch-pine stump, the roots of which are as inflammable as pitch itself, and, tying up the roots in little bundles, and the little bundles into one large one, he would ‘back’ the load to the store, and sell it for kindling wood.
His favorite out-door sport, too, at Westhaven
, was bee-hunting, which is not only an agreeable and exciting pastime, but occasionally rewards the hunter with a prodigious mess of honey—as much as a hundred and fifty pounds having been frequently obtained from a single tree.
This was profitable sport, and Horace liked it amazingly.
His share of the honey generally found its way to the store.
By these and other expedients, the boy managed always to have a little money and when a pedler came