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| Home | Reading Room The New McGuffey Fourth Reader

The New McGuffey Fourth Reader
by William H. McGuffey, Compiler

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A certain German nobleman provided his son with a tutor whose

duty it was to cultivate the mind. and morals of the youth.

One day as the tutor and his pupil were taking a walk in the

country, they came to the edge of a wood, where they observed a

half-felled tree, and saw lying by it a pair of wooden shoes. The

day being warm, the workman, resting from his toil, was cooling

his feet in a neighboring brook. The young nobleman, in a spirit

of fun, picked up a few small rounded pebbles and said: "I'll put

these in the old fellow's shoes, and we'll enjoy his grimaces

when he tries to put them on. It will be great fun."

"Well," said the tutor, "I doubt if you will get much fun out of

that. He must be a poor man. No doubt his lot is a hard one.

Would there be fun in adding to his troubles? I can't help

thinking that if you were to surprise him in a different way, say

by putting a little money in each shoe, you would enjoy his

grimaces better. You have plenty of money. What do you say? Is it

worth trying?"

The boy who, though mischievous, was very kind-hearted and

generous, caught quickly at the proposal of the tutor, and

slipped a silver coin into each shoe. Then they hid behind a tree

to watch the outcome of their innocent prank. They had not very

long to wait. An elderly man came back to his work--hard work it

was, too hard for a man of his years--and slipped his right foot

into his shoe.

Feeling something hard in the shoe he withdrew his foot and

looked to see what the object might be, when lo! he discovered

the coin. A look of puzzled amazement came over his sad face,

which made the two watchers chuckle with amusement. He turned the

coin over and over in his hand, and gazed at it in astonishment.

As he looked at it he felt with his foot for the other shoe, and

slipped that one on. To his great surprise that shoe, too, held a

coin. Holding up both silver pieces, and staring at them in

silence, he made a most impressive picture, which was by no means

lost upon the two beholders. Then suddenly clasping his hands

together he fell upon his knees and gave thanks for the blessing

that had come upon him.

As he prayed, the boy and his tutor learned from his words that

his poor wife was sick and helpless at hone, and that his

orphaned grandchildren were suffering for food, while he, old and

feeble, was striving by heavy toil to earn a crust. The old man

invoked the blessing of Heaven upon the unknown but generous soul

who had pitied his poverty--the kind heart, whosesoever it might

be, that could thus beat warm in charity and kindness for the

hungry and the poor.

"He has gone," said the old man, "without even waiting to be

thanked. But go where he may, far as he may, the earth is not

wide enough but that the blessing of an old man shall seek him

out and find him. The blessing of the poor flies fast," he cried;

"it will overtake him and abide with him to the end of life.

"May the charity of God and the care of His angels go with him,

keep him from poverty, shield him from sickness, guard him from

evil, and ever fill his heart with warmth and joy, as he has

filled mine this day! I'll work no more to-day. I'll go home to

my wife and children, and they shall join me in calling for

blessings upon their kind helper." He put on his shoes,

shouldered his ax, and departed.

Then the two watchers had a little dialogue.

"Now I call this the best kind of fun," said the tutor. "Why,

boy, what are you sniveling at?"

"You are sniveling, too," said the boy.

"Well, then, both of us are sniveling," said the tutor. "So, you

see, fun may lead to sniveling as well as to laughing. Of all the

pleasures of life, those are the most blessed which are expressed

by tears rather than laughter."

"Come on!" said the boy.

"Where next?" asked the tutor.

"Why, to follow him, to be sure. I want to know where they live

and who they are. Do you think I will let his wife be sick and

his grandchildren be hungry if I can help it? I have learned a

new kind of fun, and I want more of it."

"My dear boy, I don't for a moment think you will stop with one

good joke of this kind. Youth, with a heart like yours, never

does things by halves."

So they followed the subject of their joke to his home, and the

young nobleman, by means of his well-filled purse, found means to

enjoy much more of his new-found variety of fun.


Tutor, teacher.

Grimace, distortion of the face.

Impressive, touching.

Invoked, called down.



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