Jemmy Stubbins, or the Nailer Boy eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 27 pages of information about Jemmy Stubbins, or the Nailer Boy.
how he got on in the world; whether he was earning pretty good wages at his business, so that he could live comfortably, and send his children to school.  As I said this, I glanced inquiringly toward the boy, who was looking steadily at me from his stone stool by the anvil.  Two or three little crock-faced girls, from two to five years of age, had stolen in timidly, and a couple of young, frightened eyes were peering over the door-sill at me.  The poor Englishman—­he was as much an Englishman as the Duke of Wellington—­looked at his bushy-headed, barefooted children, and said softly, with a melancholy shake of the head, that the times were rather hard with him.  It troubled his heart, and many hours of the night he had been kept awake by the thought of it, that he could not send his children to school, nor teach them himself to read.  They were good children, he said, with a moist yearning in his eyes; they were all the wealth he had, and he loved them the more, the harder he had to work for them.  The poorest part of the poverty that was on him, was that he could not give his children the letters.  They were good children, for all the crock of the shop was on their faces, and their fingers were bent like eagle’s claws with handling nails.  He had been a poor man all his days, and he knew his children would be poor all their days, and poorer than he, if the nail business should continue to grow worse.  If he could only give them the letters, it would make them the like of rich; for then they could read the Testament.  He could read the Testament a little, for he had learned the letters by the forge-light.  It was a good book, was the Testament; and he was sure it was made for nailers and such like.  It helped him wonderfully when the loaf was small on his table, He had but little time to read it when the sun was up, and it took him loner to read a little, for he learned the letters when he was old.  But he laid it beside his dish at dinner time, and fed his heart with it, while his children were eating the bread that fell to his share.  And when he had spelt out a line of the shortest words, he read them aloud, and his eldest boy—­the one on the block there—­could say several whole verses he had learned in this way.  It was a great comfort to him, to think that James could take into his heart so many verses of the Testament which he could not read.  He intended to teach all his children in this way.  It was all he could do for them; and this he had to do at meal-times; for all the other hours he had to be at the anvil.  The nailing business was growing harder, he was growing old, and his family large. He had to work from four o’clock in the morning till ten o’clock at night, to earn eighteen-pence. His wages averaged only about seven shillings a week; and there were five of them in the family to live on what they could earn.  It was hard to make up the loss of an hour.  Not one of their hands, however little, could be spared.  Jemmy was going on nine years of age, and a helpful lad he was; and the poor man looked at him doatingly.  Jemmy could work off a thousand nails a day, of the smallest size.  The rent of their little shop, tenement and garden, was five pounds a year; and a few pennies earned by the youngest of them were of great account.

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Jemmy Stubbins, or the Nailer Boy from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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