I know you will be glad to hear how happy I am, and I know you will wonder when I tell you of all that has happened. You know I told you of a gentleman whom I met in the grave-yard the day before I left M——, and who coloured the little picture I had drawn. Well, he is a great painter, and as my health was bad, he persuaded Mr. Walters to give me up to him, for a while at least, or until I get strong. He gives me drawing lessons with his own son, who is a very good boy, and very kind to me; but he does not encourage my giving up my trade altogether, for he says that many shoemakers have become great men, and that it is the trade which, of all others, has produced most remarkable men. He told us about Crispin, who lived long ago, and about Holcroft, and Gifford, and Sherman, and John Pounds—the last named being only a cobbler, and yet he spent most of his life in teaching the poor. He says that I must draw every day, and by the time the hot weather is over, he will be able to tell whether or not I have any real talent, and whether it will be worth while to continue my drawing lessons. Ah, George, if he says I will make a painter, then I shall give up shoemaking; but if the contrary, I will “stick to my last,” and continue a shoemaker contentedly so the end of my life, because I shall believe it my proper place. I go to school now, and for the present board with old Mrs. Graham, and feel more like being at home than I have done since I left M——. I would like so to see you and your good father; and as soon as I have money enough of my own, I will go to M—— and see you all. Good-bye, dear George, and do not forget your friend,
About ten years after the date of William Raymond’s letter to George Herman, a young man with a knapsack on his back and a stout staff in his hand, was seen approaching the village of M——, on that side on which lay the church-yard we have already described as the resting-place of the little shoemaker’s parents. The young man was robust, and seemingly a mechanic, for his hands were rough, as though accustomed to labour, and his face gave plain evidence of acquaintance with the summer sun. He could not have been altogether a stranger to the place, for after he passed the few houses in the suburbs of the village, he turned towards the church-yard, the gate of which stood open, and entered the “silent city” where the dead were reposing.
The day was bright and clear, and, being the early part of June, the trees and flowers were in their freshest and fairest bloom; but they attracted no particular attention from the stranger. The grave-yard lay upon a hill which overlooked the town, and the traveller, passing by one flower-adorned grave after another, walked hastily on until he reached the highest point, from whence he looked down earnestly, as if