Chapter III. Great Examples. Each stepping where his comrade stood.--"MARMION."
EDWARD set out for his walk to his grammar school, at Cokeham, at eight o'clock the next morning, for it was nearly an hour's distance, and this school opened at nine. Just as he had crossed the fields and come into the public road, he was overtaken by Mr. Goodrich, also on his way, and they walked on together, the boy feeling very shy, and as if he would rather have avoided a whole mile alone with a master; but presently Mr. Goodrich said, also like a shy man:
"You would like to borrow a book of mine about missions?"
"Yes, sir; thank you."
"Is there any you would especially care to hear of?"
"No, sir. There were so many in the lantern, and it does seem such a shame that nobody should do anything for those poor people."
 "Not quite nobody," replied Mr. Goodrich. "There have been noble workers, and grand blessings in success have been granted to them; but many more are wanted before the promise shall be fulfilled, 'The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.'"
"I suppose that is in the Bible, sir?"
"You will find it in the second chapter of Habakkuk, and very nearly the same in the eleventh of Isaiah. Those were the very last dying words of the good Bishop Broughton, under whom the teaching of Australia was begun."
"But is not Australia mostly English convicts and settlers?"
"Not convicts in these days; but there are natives, who are said to be the most difficult persons to deal with, having little intelligence, and great wildness and savagery; but I believe that though much evil has been done to them by- angry, impatient settlers, in what one can only call wickedness, yet a way to the hearts of some has been found by those who carry out our Master's words: 'Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature!' His eye was on the [34/35] golden east as he spoke, with a certain tone of eagerness in his voice that touched Edward to the heart, and made him almost ready to take off his hat, as if he were in church.
"And one ought!" he said in a low voice.
"I did not say that every one ought," said Mr.
Goodrich, "only those to whom the call is sent." "I should like to," muttered Edward.
"Ah! you have long to wait, and to be prepared before the call can come to you; but I shall be very glad, as long as I am near you, to give you anything to read that can be a help in knowing what the work is, and who are the men who have carried it out thus far."
At this moment, two other scholars--George and Jim Sparrow--came forth from a field path. They generally did join company with Edward Bryant; but they were rather surprised to see him with the master, who, however, shook hands with them in a friendly way, and began at once talking about the next football match just in an ordinary tone, to which the boys replied stiffly and shyly. But Edward was all the time feeling that he should never think of Mr. Goodrich again quite as he had done before he had seen the [35/36] light on his face. When they had entered the town, and the master ran up to his lodgings, George asked, "Whatever were you about with old Goody?" He answered, rather gruffly, "He had been sleeping out at our parson's at Langbridge, and was going our way."
"What a bore," responded George, and Edward said nothing to the contrary. He would not for the world have let them, or, indeed, scarcely any one else, guess at the thoughts which were rising in his heart. Indeed, it was as if to confirm them that, in the course of the morning's lesson, an atlas was opened when, by some accident, a map was unfolded which showed in colors the various religions prevailing in the world, and Edward was startled to see how small a proportion had the red line of Christianity, how much was yellow for Mohammedanism, how much black for heathenism of different kinds. He was so struck by the thought that he did not recall his attention in time to answer about the effect of the distribution of the oceans upon climate, and Jim Sparrow took his place.
When he had eaten the lunch (or dinner) provided by his mother, he went in to Mr. [36/37] Goodrich's lodgings he was taken into the little parlor, bare of most things excepting one print of St. Paul preaching at Athens, and another of him and St. Barnabas preventing the men of Lystra from sacrificing to them as gods. Mr. Goodrich had gone to speak to the head-master, but he had left half-a-dozen books out on the table with a message by the landlady that Bryant was to look at them and choose which he would like to borrow, and take it home if he himself did not come back in time before school.
Edward peeped into one after another, and thought that the names of Bishops Heber, Patteson, Hanningtoni made them sound too grand and too formal, and "Lionheart," the title of one book about Bishop Hannington had a childish air about the early part, which he was just old enough to begin to shun. "Henry Martyn" looked a little dry, and he was most attracted by the scenes in the life of John Paton in the Pacific islands of Tanna and Aniwa, where the black bride is depicted who appeared at public service with all the European garments she could collect, including a pair of sailor's trousers thrown over her shoulders like a scarf. Also there was the [37/38] wonder and delight of the natives when Mr. Paton dug their first well, and thus won their hearts to him as a wise man, to whose words they might listen. There, too, was a chief in his ornaments, performing a war dance, but declaring that no god had ever heard his prayer save the Jehovah God of the missionary, and, in the next picture, burning his idols.
Edward was caught by the excellently told history, and when Mr. Goodrich returned, held up the book saying: "This, if you please, sir."
Mr. Goodrich was, perhaps, a little disappointed; but he said: "Yes, it is a noble story, full of interest; an excellent one to begin with. You will remember that Mr. Paton was a good and faithful member of the Presbyterian Kirk of Scotland; and that when he speaks of 'the Church' that is what he means. But most truly do the words apply to him, 'He that is not against Me is with Me.' Yes, take the book, it is most inspiriting."
The book was well packed up in brown paper as he spoke, not only to protect the cover, where a savage is pointing a gun at Mr. Paton, but to prevent the other boys from seeing it and [38/39] chaffing about "Goody's" loan; and, as it was, Bryant had to make answer whether he had been in a row or had a "jawing," or what Goody could have wanted with him.
However, he brought himself and his book home in good time, and was very soon absorbed in the wonderful and simply told account of the daring and suffering of the missionary, which caught his whole fancy, so that he could hardly be called off to eat his supper or go to bed.
Only the thought that Mr. Goodrich might take away the book, if it made him neglect his tasks, led him to get up in time to finish his sum and prepare his construing before he returned to his book in the morning; and when he committed it to his mother's charge, as if it were the most precious thing in the world, he begged her to read it, telling her she would never be able to leave it.
She laughed, and said: "And what would become of your shirts or grandpa's dinner if I sat dawdling that way? No, no; books are all very well for you young folks, but I have plenty besides to do."
Somehow Edward became more and more [39/40] taken up with Mr. Paton; he told the stories to the Millar girls, only Frances said she did not want to know anything about those tiresome missionaries and black people, and Aline grew wearied, counted her knitting, and merely said "Oh," at proper intervals; but little Mabel was never tired of listening, and always sidled up to ask whether Eddy had read any more about the funny black men.
It did not do much good to his studies, and when, after twice reading the book over, he brought it back to Mr. Goodrich, and ventured to ask for another, "There was no reading like it," he said.
"Yes, it stirs one's spirit," said Mr. Goodrich, with his eye on St. Paul's uplifted hand.
"To go after them?" said Edward, with bated breath.
"Yes; but, Bryant, have you been working at your present duties as you ought?" And, as the color came up in the lad's face: "I have had to make many more marks in this essay than usual; and Mr. Bell tells me your arithmetic has been hurried through, without proper attention. If these books take you from your right [40/41] employments, they become temptations, and I cannot lend you more."
"Oh, sir, I'll try."
"Make this resolution, Bryant, or I shall not feel justified in making you the loan of this 'Life of Bishop Mackenzie.' Never touch it till you can honestly feel that you have properly prepared for the next day's work."
"I won't, sir, I promise; but----"
"It doesn't seem of much good to a missionary."
"Doesn't it, my dear old chap? Well, is the missionary to go out without power of calculation or estimate--in case he finds himself prime minister to some tribe, or to deal with subscriptions? Or as to knowledge of soils, could Paton have dug his well without it? Or if he only knows his English Bible and Prayer-book, would he be competent to translate or explain the Greek--not to say the Hebrew--words in their proper force? Depend upon it, all you learn here is so much preparation for the strange, indescribable work you may have to undertake. Besides, to get one of the scholarships would be the very way to help you to the work."
 "I see, sir," said the boy with more alacrity.
"And, the most important preparation of all--that of knowing how to give up your own will and enthusiastic fancy for the sake of an immediate dry duty."
The school bell rang, they both started up to the "immediate dry duty "; but the words stayed with Edward.