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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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One day, our little Harry spent the morning with his young

playmate, Johnny Crane, who lived in a fine house, and on Sundays

rode to church in the grandest carriage to be seen in all the country round.

When Harry returned home, he said, "Mother, Johnny has money in both pockets!"

"Has he, dear?"

"Yes, ma'am; and he says he could get ever so much more if he wanted it."

"Well, now, that's very pleasant for him," I returned cheerfully,

as a reply was plainly expected. "Very pleasant; don't you think so?"

"Yes, ma'am; only--"

"Only what, Harry?"

"Why, he has a big popgun, and a watch, and a hobbyhorse, and

lots of things." And Harry looked up at my face with a disconsolate stare.

"Well, my boy, what of that?"

"Nothing, mother," and the telltale tears sprang to his eyes,

"only I guess we are very poor, aren't we?"

"No, indeed, Harry, we are very far from being poor. We are not

so rich as Mr. Crane's family, if that is what you mean."

"O mother!" insisted the little fellow, "I do think we are very

poor; anyhow, I am!"

"O Harry!" I exclaimed reproachfully.

"Yes, ma'am, I am," he sobbed; "I have scarcely anything--I mean

anything that's worth money--except things to eat and wear, and

I'd have to have them anyway."

"Have to have them?" I echoed, at the same time laying my sewing

upon the table, so that I might reason with him on that point;

"do you not know, my son--"

Just then Uncle Ben looked up frown the paper he had been

reading: "Harry," said he, "I want to find out something about

eyes; so, if you will let me have yours, I will give you a dollar

apiece for them."

"For my eyes!" exclaimed Harry, very much astonished.

"Yes," resumed Uncle Ben, quietly, "for your eyes. I will give

you chloroform, so it will not hurt you in the least, and you

shall have a beautiful glass pair for nothing, to wear in their

place. Come, a dollar apiece, cash down! What do you say? I will

take them out as quick as a wink."

"Give you my eyes, uncle!" cried Harry, looking wild at the very

thought, "I think not." And the startled little fellow shook his head defiantly.

"Well, five, ten, twenty dollars, then." Harry shook his head at every offer.

"No, sir! I wouldn't let you have them for a thousand dollars!

What could I do without my eyes? I couldn't see mother, or the

baby, or the flowers, or the horses, or anything," added Harry,

growing warmer and warmer.

"I will give you two thousand," urged Uncle Ben, taking a roll of

bank notes out of his pocket. Harry, standing at a safe distance,

shouted that he never would do any such thing.

"Very well," continued the uncle, with a serious air, at the same

time writing something in his notebook, "I can't afford to give

you more than two thousand dollars, so I shall have to do without

your eyes; but," he added, "I will tell you what I will do, I

will give you twenty dollars if you will let me put a few drops

from this bottle in your ears. It will not hurt, but it. will

make you deaf. I want to try some experiments with deafness, you

see. Come quickly, now! Here are the twenty dollars all ready for you."

"Make me deaf!" shouted Harry, without even looking at the gold

pieces temptingly displayed upon the table. "I guess you will not

do that, either. Why, I couldn't hear a single word if I were deaf, could I?"

"Probably not," replied Uncle Ben. So, of course, Harry refused

again. He would never give up his hearing, he said, "no, not for

three thousand dollars."

Uncle Ben made another note in his book, and then came out with

large bids for "a right arm," then "left arm," "hands," "feet,"

"nose," finally ending with an offer of ten thousand dollars for

"mother," and five thousand for "the baby."

To all of these offers Harry shook his head, his eyes flashing,

and exclamations of surprise and indignation bursting from his

lips. At last, Uncle Ben said he must give up his experiments,

for Harry's prices were entirely too high.

"Ha! ha!" laughed the boy, exultingly, and he folded his dimpled

arms and looked as if to say, "I'd like to see the man who could pay them!"

"Why, Harry, look here!" exclaimed Uncle Ben, peeping into his

notebook, "here is a big addition sum, I tell you! " He added the

numbers, and they amounted to thirty-two thousand dollars.

"There, Harry," said Uncle Ben, "don't you think you are foolish

not to accept some of my offers?" "No, sir, I don't," answered

Harry, resolutely. "Then," said Uncle Ben, "you talk of being

poor, and by your own showing you have treasures for which you

will not take thirty-two thousand dollars. What do you say to that?"

Harry didn't know exactly what to say. So he blushed for a

second, and just then tears came rolling down his cheeks, and he

threw his chubby arms around my neck. "Mother," he whispered,

"isn't God good to make everybody so rich?"


Disconsolate, filled with grief.

Reproachfully, with censure or reproof.

Chloroform, an oily liquid, the vapor of which causes insensibility.

Startled, shocked.

Defiantly, daringly.

Afford, to be able to pay for.

Experiments, acts performed to discover some truth.

Exclamations, expressions of surprise, anger, etc.

Exultingly, in a triumphant manner.

Treasures, things which are very much valued.



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