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Grandfathers Hero by Anon

 

“Harry Moore's a milksop,” said Bob decidedly.

“Why?” asked his sister. “I thought you liked him.”

“So I did,” answered Bob, “but I hadn't found out what a stupid he was.”

“And how did you find it out?” asked Maud.

“Well, I'll tell you,” said Bob. “Last Saturday, you know, we had a paper-chase, and the track was over the bog meadows down by the river. Harry Moore and I were last, and all of a sudden he stopped and said: `I can't go over these fields.' I asked him why not, and he said they were too wet.” Bob uttered the last words very contemptuously.

“Well?” questioned Maud.

“Well, I told him he was a little milksop and had better go home, and he went, and I haven't spoken to him since, although I met him and his little sister and brother with their go-cart this morning. I don't care about being friends with milksops,” Bob added frankly.

“Of course not,” Maud agreed.

“Oh, bother this rain,” said Bob impatiently. “It's going to be wet this afternoon. What shall we do?”

“Come here, children,” said their Grandfather, from his chair by the fireside. “I will tell you a little story to while away the time.”

The old man had been sitting with his eyes closed, and the children thought he was asleep. But he had heard Bob's anecdote.

Grandfather's stories were always interesting, and the children were glad to forget the weather in listening to one of them.

“I was thinking just now,” said their Grandfather presently, “of a great and good man, who is now one of the greatest officers in the army. I want to tell you a little incident that happened when we were schoolboys together. We were three years together, then he left, and I have never seen him again, for his life has been spent in foreign lands. He was some years older than I, and I daresay he soon forgot the little fellow who used secretly to look up to him and worship him. But now I must tell you why he became my hero. One day a party of boys had arranged to walk to a place four miles distant, where there was to be a meet of the hounds. I wanted very much to go; I joined the party as they set out on their expedition. There were six boys, all older than myself, one of them being the handsome, clever fellow whom even then I thought superior to all the rest. Well, it was a good long walk, over fields and hedges and ditches. I had some trouble to keep up with the others, for you must remember I was a very small boy then, and once, in jumping a ditch, I gave my ankle a little twist which made it still more difficult to go along fast. However, no one noticed me, and I was determined not to be beaten.

“At last we came to a large field, where some cattle were grazing which we had to cross.

“`There's a mad bull in this field,' said one of the boys; `he chased Farmer Jones the other day.'

“`We can run for it,' said another coolly, `if he comes after us.'

“Now, I knew I could not run with my sore ankle, and the idea of the bull terrified me. `Can't we go another way?' I asked.

“Fear must have been written on my face, for some of the boys burst out laughing.

“`Little Morrin's afraid,' said one mockingly. `Sit down under the hedge, dear: then the bull won't see you.'

“`Go on,' said another; `never mind the little milksop.'

“But my hero, the biggest and strongest of all, looked at me kindly and said: `Is anything the matter, little Morrin?'

“And, reassured by his kind tones, I told him I had hurt my foot a little, and did not think I could run.

“`Get up on my back then,' said he, and, before I could say a word, he stooped down and lifted me up with his strong arms, then strode on as before.

“The others began to taunt and mock me.

“`Let him alone, you fellows,' said my champion. `He's a plucky little chap to come at all with such pleasant companions as we've been.'

“We got through the field without attracting the attention of the bull. The place of the meet was just beyond, and we were in good time to see the gay scene. We went back by a different road, and my hero made them all march slowly so that I might be able to keep pace with them.

“It was a little thing, was it not, Bob? I say: a little thing. Perhaps you will hardly believe that one little act of kindness altered my whole life. It taught me lessons which I might never have learned otherwise. It showed me how we can help one another by the simplest kindness and sympathy. All through my life his influence has helped and encouraged me—though, as I tell you, I never saw him again.”

“Is that all, Grandpa?” asked Maud.

But Bob did not speak. He was thinking of what he had said about Harry Moore.

“I think,” he said to Maud that evening, “I'll just ask Moore why he was afraid of the wet fields. Perhaps he's delicate, or perhaps he'd promised not to go.”

“Grandfather's hero wouldn't have called him a milksop,” said Maud thoughtfully.

“No,” answered Bob, “and I wish I hadn't; but then, you know, I hadn't heard about Grandfather's hero.”

 
 
 

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