When they returned from the barn, she said ‘Neighbor Smith
, I thought some hot supper would be good for thee.’
He turned his back toward her and did not speak.
After leaning against the fire-place in silence for a moment, he said, in a choked voice, ‘It is the first time I ever stole anything, and I have felt very bad about it. I don't know how it is. I am sure I didn't think once that I should ever come to be what I am. But I took to drinking, and then to quarrelling.
Since I began to go down hill, everybody gives me a kick.
You are the first man who has ever offered me a helping hand.
My wife is sickly, and my children are starving.
You have sent them many a meal, God bless you!
and yet I stole the hides from you, meaning to sell them the first chance I could get. But I tell you the truth when I say it is the first time I was ever a thief.’
‘Let it be the last, my friend,’ replied William Savery
‘The secret shall remain between ourselves.
Thou art still young, and it is in thy power to make up for lost time.
Promise me that thou wilt not drink any intoxicating liquor for a year, and I will employ thee to-morrow at good wages.
Perhaps we may find some employment for thy family also.
The little boy can at least pick up stones.— But eat a bit now, and drink some hot coffee.
Perhaps it will keep thee from craving anything stronger ’