I felt more than paid for the sacrifice I had made to give pleasure to another; I was trying to learn the useful lesson of setting aside self that I might add to the happiness of others, especially of the kind friend, beneath whose roof I dwelt. It was my invariable custom on my way to school to call each morning for Willie and Rose Oswald. We became great friends, and many evenings did I carry over my books, that we might together study the lesson for the morning’s recitation; and when (as was often the case) Uncle Nathan rallied me upon the subject, I replied, with much dignity, (as I thought) that I preferred studying with Willie and Rose, on account of Mr. Oswald being at hand to assist us. “It’s all right, Walter” he would reply, “you and little Rose will make a handsome couple ten years from now, and I only hope I may live to see the day, for it won’t do to have too many old bachelors in the family”, and, with a roguish look at Aunt Lucinda, “to say nothing of old maids.” My Aunt would snappishly tell him to “let the boy alone, and not be always teasing him,” adding that at his time of life it ill became him to talk such nonsense; and, if Uncle Nathan wished to make her particularly angry he would reply, “if I am old, you are certainly two years older,” and my aunt, who made it a point always to have the last word would say, as a closing argument, she hoped her years had taught her a little wisdom at any rate, but as for him he seemed to grow more foolish and light-minded with each year that was added to his age. I presume if any one else had dared to make this remark of Uncle Nathan they would have learned that he had an able defender in the person of his sister.
The winter passed away, till March came in with its piercing winds; and to me, if it had been a busy winter, it had also been a very happy one. With my studies, and companions at my labours at home, time passed swiftly, and I received frequent letters from my mother and sister, and also from Charley Gray. But this pleasant state of things was destined to continue but a short time, a dark cloud was even then hovering over me, which was soon to burst in terror over my head. Before the winter was over many of the boys at school began among themselves to accuse our teacher of an unjust partiality toward me, whether with or without cause I am unable to say. Mr. Oswald was a very estimable man, but he had very strong feelings, and was inclined to form his opinion of one at first sight; if that opinion chanced to be favourable, you were all right; if the reverse, he sometimes failed to give one credit for whatever of good there might be in them. I charge it to no superior merit in myself, but I believe from the very first I was a favourite with our teacher. I studied hard, and endeavoured to give no trouble by misconduct, though I doubtless had my faults as well as others. It may be that Mr. Oswald sometimes allowed his feelings to exhibit themselves more than was exactly wise. I have often heard him say that strong likes and equally strong dislikes were natural defects in his own character, against which he was obliged to exercise a continual watchfulness.