This sudden outbreak from me, who hitherto had borne his abuse in silence, took Mr. Judson quite by surprise. For a moment he looked at me in silence, then, with a voice hoarse from passion, he addressed me, saying, “such talk to me! you surely have lost any little sense you ever may have had.” Then seizing me roughly by the shoulder he continued: “I’ll teach you better manners than all this comes to, my fine fellow, for I’ll give you such a flogging as you won’t forget in a hurry, I’ll be bound.”
Instantly my resolution was taken; he should never flog me again. Shaking off the rough grasp of his hand, I stepped backward, and drawing myself up to my full height (even then I was not very tall) I looked him unflinchingly in the face as I said,—“touch me if you dare, I have borne blows enough from you, and for little cause, but you shall never strike me again. If you lay a hand upon me it will be worse for you.” Wild with anger I knew not what I said. The strength of a lad of my age would, of course, have been as nothing against that of the sturdy farmer; but, had he attempted to flog me, I certainly should have resisted to the utmost of my ability. I know not how it was, but after regarding me for a few moments with angry astonishment, he turned away without any further attempt to fulfil his threat of flogging me. I turned and was leaving the house when he called after me, in a voice, which upon any previous occasion, would have frightened me into submission.
“Come back, I say, this instant.” I had now lost all fear and replied, in a voice which I hardly recognized as my own, “go back, never. Should I be compelled to beg my bread from door to door, I will never stay another day under your roof.” With these words I ran from the house, and soon reached the little brown cottage in the village three miles distant where lived my mother and sister Flora.
I never knew a father’s protecting care and watchful love; for he died when I was but little more than three years old; and my sister Flora a babe in our mother’s arms. No prettier village could at that time have been found in Eastern Canada than Elmwood, and this village was our home. Its location was romantic and picturesque. Below the village on one side was a long stretch of level meadow-land through which flowed a clear and placid river—whose sparkling waters, when viewed from a distance, reminded one of a surface of polished silver. The margin of this river, on either side, was fringed with tall stately trees, called the Rock-Elm. According to the statement of the first settlers in the vicinity, the whole place was once covered with a forest of those noble trees and to this circumstance the village owed its name of Elmwood. The number of those trees which still shaded many of the streets added much to the beauty of the village. The village was