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by Mimi Rothschild  
11/30/2011 / Education

On board an English steamer a little ragged boy, aged nine years, was
discovered on the fourth day of the voyage out from Liverpool to New
York, and carried before the first mate, whose duty it was to deal with
such cases. When questioned as to his object in being stowed away, and
who had brought him on board, the boy, who had a beautiful sunny face,
that looked like the very mirror of truth, replied that his step-father
did it, because he could not afford to keep him nor pay his passage to
Halifax where he had an aunt who was well off, and to whose house he was

The mate did not believe his story, in spite of the winning face and
truthful accents of the boy. He had seen too much of stowaways to be
easily deceived by them, he said; and it was his firm conviction that
the boy had been brought on board and provided with food by the sailors.


The little fellow was very roughly handled in consequence. Day by day
he was questioned and requestioned, but always with the same result. He
did not know a sailor on board, and his father alone had secreted and
given him the food which he ate. At last the mate, wearied by the boy's
persistence in the same story, and perhaps a little anxious to inculpate
the sailors, seized him one day by the collar, and dragging him to the
fore, told him that unless he told the truth, in ten minutes from that
time he would hang from the yard arm. He then made him sit under it on
the deck. All around him were the passengers and sailors of the midway
watch, and in front of him stood the inexorable mate, with chronometer
in his hand, and the other officers of the ship by his side. It was a
touching sight to see the pale, proud, scornful face of that noble boy;
his head erect, his beautiful eyes bright through the tears that suffused
them. When eight minutes had fled the mate told him that he had but two
minutes to live, and advised him to speak the truth and save his life.
But he replied with the utmost simplicity and sincerity, by asking the
mate if he might pray. The mate said nothing, but nodded his head, and
turned as pale as a ghost, and shook with trembling like a reed in the
wind. And then all eyes turned on him, the brave and noble fellow--
this poor boy whom society owned not, and whose own step-father could
not care for--knelt with clasped hands and eyes upturned to heaven. There
then occurred a scene as of Pentecost. Sobs broke from strong, hard
hearts, as the mate sprang forward and clasped the boy to his bosom, and
kissed him, and blessed him, and told him how sincerely he now believed
his story and how glad he was that he had been brave enough to face death
and be willing to sacrifice his life for the truth of his word.

--_Illustrated Weekly Telegraph_


Early one morning while it was yet dark, a poor man came to my door and
informed me that he had an infant child very sick, which he was afraid
would die. He desired me to go to his home, and, if possible help them.
"For," said he, "I want to save its life, if possible." As he spoke thus
his tears ran down his face. He then added:

"I am a poor man; but, Sir, I will pay you in work as much as you ask
if you will go."

I said: "Yes, I will go with you as soon as I take a little refreshment."

"Oh, sir," said he, "I was going to try to get a bushel of corn, and get
it ground to carry home, and I am afraid the child will die before I get
there. I wish you would not wait for me"; and then he added: "We want
to save the child's life if we can."


It being some miles to his house, I didn't arrive there until the sun
was two hours high in the morning, when I found the mother holding her
sick child, and six or seven little boys and girls around her, with clean
hands and faces, looking as their mother did, lean and poor. On examining
the sick child, I discovered that it was starving to death! I said to
the mother: "You don't give milk enough for this child."

She said: "I suppose I don't."

"Well," said I, "you must feed it with milk."

She answered: "I would, sir, but I can't get any to feed it with."

I then said: "It will be well, then, for you to make a little water
gruel, and feed your child."

To this she replied: "I was thinking I would if my husband brings home
some Indian meal. He has gone to try to get some and I am in hopes he
will make out."

She said this with a sad countenance. I asked her with surprise: "Why
madam, have you not got anything to eat?"

She strove to suppress a tear, and answered sorrowfully: "No sir; we
have had but little these some days."

I said: "What are your neighbors, that you should suffer among them?"

She said, "I suppose they are good people, but we are strangers in this
place, and don't wish to trouble any of them, if we can get along without."

Wishing to give the child a little manna I asked for a spoon. The little
girl went to the table drawer to get one, and her mother said to her:
"Get the longest handled spoon." As she opened the drawer, I saw only
two spoons, and both with handles broken off, but one handle was a little
longer than the other. I thought to myself this is a very poor family,
but I will do the best I can to relieve them. While I was preparing the
food for the sick child, I heard the oldest boy (who was about fourteen),
say: "You shall have the biggest piece now, because I had the biggest
piece before." I turned around to see who it was that manifested such a
principle of justice, and I saw four or five children sitting in the
corner, where the oldest was dividing a roasted potato among them. And
he said to one: "You shall have the biggest piece now," etc. But the
other said: "Why, brother, you are the oldest, and you ought to have the
biggest piece."

"No," said the other, "I had the biggest piece."

I turned to the mother, and said: "Madam, you have potatoes to eat, I

She replied, "We have had, but this is the last one we have left; and
the children have now roasted that for their breakfast."

On hearing this, I hastened home, and informed my wife that food was
needed for the sick family. I then prescribed a gallon of milk, two
loaves of bread, some butter, meat and potatoes, and sent my boy with
these; and had the pleasure to hear in a few days that they were all well.

Mimi Rothschild ( is a mother of 8, grandmother of 4 and lifelong homeschooler. In 2001, she co-founded Learning By Grace (, a Christian ministry that manages Online Homeschooling Programs such as The MorningStar Academy (

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