flor’ins, pieces of money, each valued at about fifty cents.
pen’sion, money paid for service in war.
re stor’ing, giving back.
phy si’cian, doctor of medicine.
* * * * *
Joseph II., Emperor of Austria, was a generous, warm-hearted man, who took great delight in doing acts of kindness and charity.
One time, as he was passing through the streets of Vienna, dressed as a private gentleman, his attention was attracted to a boy about twelve years old, who timidly approached, and seemed, anxious to speak to him.
“What do you wish, my little friend?” said the gentleman. His voice was so tender, and he had such a kindly look in his eyes, that the boy had courage to say:
“O sir, you are very good to speak to me so kindly. I believe you will not refuse to do something for me.”
“I should be sorry to refuse you,” replied the gentleman; “but why are you begging? You appear to be something better than a beggar; your voice and your manner show it.”
“I am not a beggar, sir,” replied the boy, as a tear trickled down his cheek. “My father was a brave officer in the army. Owing to illness, he was obliged to leave the service, and was granted a pension by the emperor.
“With this pension he supported our family; but a few months ago he died, and we are left very poor indeed.”
“Poor child!” said the gentleman. “Is your mother living?”
“Yes, sir, she is; and I have two brothers who are at home with her now. She has been unable to leave her bed for weeks, and one of us must watch beside her, while the others go out to beg.”
Saying this, the poor boy tried very hard to keep back the great tears, but they would come in spite of all he could do to stop them.
“Well, well, my boy,” said the gentleman, “do not feel so unhappy; I will see what can be done to help you. Is there a physician to be found near you?”
“There are two, sir, only a little way from where we live.”
“That is well. Now you go at once and have one of them visit your mother. Here is money, not only for the physician, but for other things to feed you and make you comfortable.”
“O sir,” said the boy, as he looked upon the gentleman in amazement, “how can I thank you enough? This money will save my mother’s life, and keep my brothers from want.”
“Never mind, my child; go and get the physician.”
The boy obeyed, and the good emperor having learned the situation of the house where the boy’s mother lived, bent his steps in that direction, and soon arrived there.
The room in which he found the poor woman gave evidence of great misery.
She was lying on a low bedstead, and though still young, her face was pale and thin from sickness and want. Very little furniture of any kind was to be seen, for the mother had disposed of nearly all she possessed to obtain bread for her children.