Protector by Mrs. P. Binford
He was such a little fellow, but he was desperately in earnest when he
marched into the store that snowy morning. Straight up to the first clerk
he went. "I want to see the 'prietor," he said.
The clerk wanted to smile, but the little face before her was so grave that
she answered solemnly, "He is sitting at his desk."
The little fellow walked up to the man at the desk. Mr. Martin, the
proprietor, turned around. "Good morning, little man. Did you want to see
me?" he asked.
"Yes, sir. I want a wrap for my mama. I can make fires and pay for it."
"What is your name, my boy?"
"Is your father living?"
"No, sir; he died when we lived in Louisville."
"How long have you lived here?"
"We haven't been here long. Mama was sick in Louisville, and the doctor
told her to go away, and she would get well."
"Is she better?"
"Yes, sir. Last Sunday she wanted to go to church, but she didn't have any
wrap, and she cried. She didn't think I saw her, but I did. She says I'm
her little p'tector since papa died. I can make fires and pay for a wrap."
"But, little man, the store is steam-heated. I wonder if you could clean
the snow off the walk."
"Yes, sir," Paul answered, quickly.
"Very well. I'll write your mama a note and explain our bargain."
When the note was written, Mr. Martin arose.
"Come, Paul, I will get the wrap," he said. At the counter he paused. "How
large is your mother Paul?" he asked.
Paul glanced about him. "'Bout as large as her." he said, pointing toward a
"Miss Smith, please see if this fits you," requested Mr. Martin. Paul's
eyes were shining.
Miss Smith put on the wrap and turned about for Paul to see it. "Do you
like it?" she asked him.
"Yes, I do," he answered very emphatically.
The wrap was marked twelve dollars, but kind-hearted Mr. Martin said: "You
may have it for five dollars, Paul. Take it to Pauline and have her take
the price tag off," he added to Miss Smith. When she brought the bundle
back to him, he put it in Paul's arms. "Take it to your mama, Paul. When
the snow stops falling, come and sweep off the walk. I will pay you a
dollar each time you clean it. We shall soon have enough to pay for the
"Yes, sir," answered Paul, gravely. He took the bundle and trudged out into
When he reached home, his mother looked in surprise at his bundle. "Where
have you been, dear?"
"I went to town, mama," Paul answered. He put the note into her hand. She
opened it and read:—
"MRS. MAY: This little man has bought a wrap for you. He says he is your
protector. For his sake keep the wrap and let him work to pay for it. It
will be a great pleasure to him. He has the making of a fine man in him.
Paul was astonished to see tears in his mothers eyes; he had thought she
would be so happy, and she was crying. She put her arm about him and kissed
him. Then she put on the wrap and told how pretty she thought it.
When the snow stopped falling, Paul went down to the store and cleaned the
snow from the front walk. He did not know that Mr. Martin's hired man swept
it again, for the little arms were not strong enough to sweep it quite
The days passed, and one morning Paul had a very sore throat.
"You mustn't get up today, dear," his mother said. When she brought his
breakfast, she found him crying. "What is making you cry? Is your throat
"No, mama. Don't you see it is snowing, and I can't go and clean the walk?"
"Shall I write a note to Mr. Martin and explain why you are not there?"
"Yes, please, mama. Who will take it?"
"I'll ask Bennie to leave it as he goes to school."
The note was written, and Bennie, a neighbor boy, promised to deliver it.
While Paul was eating his dinner, there was a knock at the door. Mrs. May
answered it, and ushered in Mr. Martin.
"How is the sick boy?" he asked. He crossed the room and sat by Paul. He
patted the boy's cheek, and then turned to the mother. "Mrs. May," he said,
"my wife's mother is very old, but will not give up her home and live with
us. She says she wants a home for her children to visit. She has recently
lost a good housekeeper, and needs another. Since I met Paul the other day,
I have been wondering if you would take the housekeeper's place. Mother
would be glad to have you and Paul with her, and would make things easy for
you, and pay you liberally."
"I shall be very glad to accept your offer, Mr. Martin. I am sorely in need
of work. I taught in the public school in Louisville until my health
failed. Since then I have had a hard struggle to get along," answered Mrs.
"I will give you mother's address. You can go out and arrange matters. Make
haste and get well little protector," said Mr. Martin, as he rose to go.
When he had gone, the mother put her arms about her boy. "You are my
protector," she said. "You brought me a wrap, and now you have helped me to
get work to do."—Mrs. P. Binford, in the Visitor.
If I Ought To
There's a voice that's ever sounding.
With an echo oft rebounding,
In my heart a word propounding,
Loudly speaking, never still;
Till at last, my duty viewing,
Heart replies to charge renewing,
Let my willing change to doing,—
If I ought to, then I will.