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Full text of "Boy-talks"

I 



Boy -Talks 

Philip E. Ho-wArd. 




Class - 
Book^ 

Copyright ]^^_ 



(IDEXRIGHr DEPOSm 



BOY-TALKS 



By 
Philip E, Howard 



Philadelphia 
The Sunday School Times Company 



^K 



Copyright, 1920, by 
The Sunday School Times Company 



Printed in the United States of America 

OEC 30 1920 

©CI.A605164 



A WORD TO THE BOYS 

from ten to a hundred years young 

For several years it has been my privilege 
to talk almost every week with thousands of 
boys just on the threshold of their teens 
through that real paper for real boys /'Kings' 
Treasuries." The talks have come out of 
living with boys a good deal, and from no- 
ticing some of the little and big things that 
all of us are bound to hear or see along boy- 
hood's highways and by-ways. 

Maybe some of you boys who are begin- 
ning to think your own thoughts will find 
things here of interest to you. I hope so. 

And perhaps some of you grown-up boys 
who father, or big-brother, or teach, or 
sometimes just talk with the youngsters, may 
like to have some of the things intended here 
for your use, if they happen to fit in any- 
where. 

Mr. Samuel Scoville, Jr. (I call him 
"Sam"), who writes such fine out-of-doors 
books for boys, told me to call this book 
"Boy-Talks," so I have. 

It's yours for use ! j ^^^ Author. 

iii 



TO 

PHILIP AND TRUMBULL, 

THE BOYS I LOVE BEST- 

MY CHUMS IN FIELD AND FOREST. 

IN WORK AND PLAY, 
AND IN THE SERVICE OF THE KING 



ALPHABETICAL TABLE 
OF CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Ambushed 65 

Boy of the First Class, A 125 

Built Like a Watch 121 

Courtesy Corner 18 

Cushion or The Climb f The 103 

Directed Spark, The , 25 

Earning Money 69 

Exempt ! 143 

Flanges 42 

"Getting By'' 118 

Giving Money 73 

Good Mixer, A 36 

Growing or Swelling 140 

Half-Fare Ticket, The 54 

"Half My Fault" 166 

Handicaps 178 

Hard Thing First, The 190 

"He's a Friend of Mine" 129 

Holding On 29 

Homesickness : 46 

Initialing the Blot 162 

Just Neglected 84 

Keep Your Eyes on the King 8 

V 



vi CONTENTS 

Keeping the Body at its Best 155 

Killing Time no 

Making It Go 184 

Morning Face, The 181 

Movies or the Mountains? The. ... 151 

Never-Empty Pocketbook, A 93 

Not by Climbing 213 

''Opened by Censor" 87 

Painting a Drop of Water 203 

Picking Up the Buoy 170 

Power 33 

''Return Horse/' The 147 

Sandpaper 174 

Saving Money yy 

Second Look, The 58 

Sharp Word to Mother, The 158 

Should the Machine Stop? 193 

Smile ! 137 

Spending Money 80 

Straight Talk of a Button, The. . .206 

Suspended Key, The 200 

"Sweet Cakes and No Axe !" 96 

That Sister of Yours 107 

Those Slippery Facts 5 

Through the Breakers 99 

Tuning Coil, The 197 

Using Our Mistakes 114 



CONTENTS vii 



Varnish 50 

What is Initiative? , 14 

What's on Your Shoulder? 39 

What You Can't Do, You Can Do. .210 

When a Boy is Not Popular 11 

When Father Doesn't Understand. 133 

'When I Grow Up" 22 

When White is Black 90 

When Work Seems Hard 61 

Why It Would Not Burn i 

''You're Afraid!" 187 



All the talks have appeared in "Kings' Treas- 
uries," published by The Presbyterian Board of 
Publication, and are reprinted by the courtesy of 
the publishers. 



WHY IT WOULD NOT BURN 

ONE day a man said to himself that he 
wanted an electric light on his desk. 
He did not want to pay much money for 
the light, so he decided to see what he could 
do about rigging it up himself. 

He looked around until he found the bat- 
tery that rang the electric doorbell in his 
home. He knew then what he would do. 
He would run wires from that battery to 
his desk, fasten an electric lamp there, and 
when the lamp was connected with the bat- 
tery he would have his desk light. 

After a time he had made the connec- 
tions, and then turned the switch in the 
lamp, expecting to flood his desk with light ; 
but there was no light. He overhauled the 
connections one by one, to see that every- 
thing was clean and tight. He tried it 
again. Still there was no light. 

Finally he sent for a young electrician, 
and asked him to locate the trouble. The 
man showed the electrician the lamp and 
the wires, and then the battery. 

I 



BOY-TALKS 



The electrician smiled. "Why, you have 
connected the lamp with the bell battery!" 
he said. 

"Of course I did," answered the man. 
"It rang the bell all right, and I don't see 
why it doesn't run the lamp." 

"Why, don't you know that a bell bat- 
tery won't run a lamp like that? It takes 
a lot more power to make a light than it 
takes to make a noise!" 

Then the man understood. And he be- 
gan to realize that the electrician had said 
something very wise, something that would 
fit in at a great many places in life besides 
household lighting experiments. For there 
are folks, grown up, and not grown up, who 
think that because a boy or a man makes 
a great fuss about things, and his doings 
are noisy enough to attract attention, he 
is therefore a person of force, and can 
surely get things done. But it doesn't take 
nearly so much power to make a noise as it 
takes to give light. 

There are always blustering, hustling 
chaps who impress you with their vast 
energy because of the motions they make. 
But there is another kind of boy, who 



WHY IT WOULD NOT BURN 3 

keeps rather still until the excitement dies 
down, and then quietly says or does just 
the right thing. He is the light giver, 
whose reserves of strength are great, and 
who can switch on any amount of needed 
power when a big demand is made upon 
him. 

The strongest men are often the stillest. 
The men of largest affairs seem to move on 
through their day with much less fuss and 
stir than the lesser men. And the boy who 
counts for most in school is not by any 
means the boy who is showy, or who is 
quickest in speech. 

When Mr. Lincoln was speaking once 
of General Grant, he said, "He is such a 
quiet little fellow that you hardly know he's 
around, but wherever he is things go!" 
John Wanamaker, America's greatest mer- 
chant, is one of the most unhurried and 
quiet men you can meet in business, speak- 
ing in a low and clear voice, dealing di- 
rectly and promptly with his problems, 
but never making any fuss about the im- 
mense amount of work he does. President 
Wilson gives one the same impression in 
meeting him personally or in hearing him in 



BOY-TALKS 



public. Indeed, the men of power of our 
time seem to be those who make Httle noise. 
It is easy to create a stir. It is not so 
easy to be a light giver, through the greater 
power that works in the soul. 

A boy needs to learn the difference be- 
tween mere noise and real light, and not 
to be afraid to have large reserves of power 
for the better kind of service. 



THOSE SLIPPERY FACTS 

DID you ever spill a drop of mercury 
on the table, and then try to pick it 
up? How the silvery globule eludes you! 
It slips away on the run, or breaks up into 
sparkling particles, or frolics around your 
finger ends, and will not go back to cap- 
tivity without a struggle. 

Facts are sometimes like that drop of 
mercury. You had them all bottled up in 
your memory. The cork came out, a fact 
or two escaped, and when you had to pro- 
duce those facts in the class-room, they 
were very unwilling to be picked up! 

One of the most painful characteristics of 
these slippery facts is the way they have of 
making blots on an otherwise clean school 
report. One day you were asked a question 
or two, and the answers wouldn't come, and 
so a low mark resulted. When you took 
that report home, you didn't run to show 
it to father or mother. When father 
asked for it, he had trouble in making up 
his mind that it was yours! 

You would give a good deal to hold on to 

5 



BOY-TALKS 



slippery facts, if you could, so that the 
school work would go better. 

But you can learn to hold on to facts. 
Here are a few hints that may make it easier 
for you to get and to keep the facts that 
come up in your studies^ Take, for instance, 
a history lesson. 

Read it over once just as you would read 
any stor}^ Forget that it is a lesson. Don't 
even try to learn it then — just read it. 

Read it over once more; and this time 
mark with a little pencil dot on the margin 
any fact that seems important, or especially 
interesting to you. 

Go through the material once more, read- 
ing carefully the parts marked with a dot, 
and as you read, jot down on paper a 
word, as a reminder of what is in the sen- 
tence you want to keep in mind. 

Now lay aside the book, and shut your 
eyes, and see how many of the marked 
passages you can recall. After you have 
gone through the v/hole lesson in this way, 
look at your catchwords and see where you 
were right or wrong. Then close the book, 
put away the paper and review it all once 
more. By that time, if you have been pay- 



THOSE SLIPPERY FACTS 7 

ing attention you will no doubt have the 
main facts bottled up ready for use. 

And now do not wait two or three months 
to review. Review at least once a week the 
dotted sentences or paragraphs in your book. 
This simple "dot-and-jot" method is the 
quickest and surest way to hedge in, bot- 
tle up, own, and control those otherwise 
slippery facts. 

Another point: Try the chain method. 
When you have learned one fact, and then 
two, remember the two together. And 
when you have added a third, link the third 
to the second in your mind, and the fourth 
to the third. You can do this with dates, 
names, lines of poetry, a whole chain of 
facts on any subject. Then the mind will 
be found to w^ork on from one link to 
another in a w^ay that will help the memory 
wonderfully. 

Knowing how to work is one of the big 
things to learn in school days. It is then 
that the mind can be trained to lay hold of 
what you should know, and to keep it for 
future use. The quickest and surest way is 
never haphazard, but methodical. Will you 
try it? 



KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE KING 

IT WAS a great day for that unselfish, 
hard-working English friend of boys 
and girls when the king called him into liis 
presence. For his fifty years' service to the 
young people of Great Britain was about to 
be honored by the king himself. 

Outside the room in which the king and 
his nobles were seated this good man waited, 
with others, until an officer called him by 
name — Francis F. Belsey. Just before he 
entered the king's presence, he was told not 
to gaze about the room, not to look around 
at others near the king, but to keep his 
eyes looking straight into the king's face 
from the moment he entered the room. 
This was always that monarch's wish when 
he was to confer knighthood upon any 
one. So Mr. Belsey looked straight at the 
king as he approached His Majesty, and 
knelt before him. When he arose, the new 
Sir Francis Belsey still looked at the king. 

Boys, the King himself wants us to look 
straight at him. Oh, no, it isn't easy, when 
8 



EYES ON THE KING 



our eyes are so quickly drawn to other in- 
terests. But the King isn't concerned about 
making things so very easy for us, so long 
as he can hold us true to the best he has for 
us. 

There is enough to turn our look away 
from him. We can think of a hundred 
things we want to see; yet the King him- 
self is better than all. And you are going 
to be like what you see; you are to go in 
the way into which your eyes lead you — 
not only the eyes in your head, but all those 
other eyes that we call by many names, but 
which do the seeing for us, — thought, feel- 
ing, hope, ambition, like and dislike, and 
all the rest. This King of ours not only 
wishes us to learn of him, but he wishes 
to make us kings indeed, in our possessions 
and our service, wherever we are. 

Have you ever seen an earthly leader of 
a great nation — a president, a king, an 
emperor? You know how every one else 
in the great crowd seems to vanish in a 
mist, and all you really see is just one man; 
and your heart leaps, and your blood 
quickens, and you seem to be all alone in the 
world at that moment with that one man. 



lo BOY-TALKS 

You are never quite the same boy after- 
wards, because you have looked into the 
face of a man who was Hfted to a high 
place of service in the world. 

The King of kings does more than this 
for us when we keep our eyes upon him. 
Some have become so much like him that 
even the folks at home call them Christlike. 
That is the true kingliness — Christlike- 
ness. And the treasuries of that King of 
kings are just overflowing with the very 
things a boy most needs to lead him into 
the biggest, happiest, richest life right now, 
that he can possibly have. For this King 
makes kings of any boys who will let him, 
and whatever he has is yours. There is no 
reason why any boy who knows him should 
not have full treasuries of his own, wherein 
will be found for every-day use the kingly 
gifts of purity, self-control, unselfishness, 
honor, sound knowledge, and strength. 

Do you want to be a first-rate, high- 
powered, all-around fellow who can do 
things that amount to something? — Mind 
your eyes! 



WHEN A BOY IS NOT POPULARj^ 

IT ISN'T always a discredit to a boy to 
be unpopular. If the other fellows dis- 
like him because he is in the right, and they 
are in the wrong, he may not always be able 
to help that at the moment. Indeed, a cer- 
tain kind of popularity is no credit at all to a 
boy, because it simply means that he is gen- 
erally willing to go with the crowd, whether 
they are In the wrong or not. 

A good many boys suffer in their minds, 
much more than they admit to others, just 
because some other fellow seems to be liked 
by every one, while they themselves get lit- 
tle attention, and even seem unwelcome when 
a bunch of fellows get together, in the school 
yard, or on the ball field. 

Now, general popularity in itself is a poor 
aim for any boy. The fellow who tries for 
it is almost sure to miss it, and the fellow 
who becomes popular in the right way hasn't 
been trying for it at all. He has simply 
done the true, clean thing, right along, day 
in and day out. He hasn't been showy 
about it. He hasn't tried to make an im- 

II 



12 BOY-TALKS 

pression. He has been a straightforward, 
open-hearted, cheerful, and generous gen- 
tleman in the best sense, without trying to 
find out whether the fellows like him or 
not; but continually doing and saying the 
things that belong to wholesome, on-the- 
square, unselfish, Christian living. Is it 
strange that others begin to take to him? 
You would, wouldn't you? Well, you 
would, unless you were headed in the op- 
posite direction; and even then you might 
• — secretly, if not openly. 

But what about the boy who isn't popu- 
lar among the fellows whose friendship 
would be an honor to him? Do you ever 
feel that you are one of that kind? And do 
you wonder what is the matter ? 

Let's look at the facts, then. Perhaps 
you are thinking too much about being liked, 
or disliked, and so getting the cart before 
the horse. In that way you get self -cen- 
tered, over-sensitive, and suspicious, and it 
shows in your every look. Perhaps you are 
pig-headed, which simply means that you 
always want to do exactly what others don't 
want to do. I have a younger brother who 
worked on a farm one summer. One of his 



WHEN NOT POPULAR 13 

duties was to take care of the pigs. He 
found that if he wanted to drive them back 
to the sty from the pasture when they were 
roaming and rooting, he had to chase them 
as hard as he could away from the gate, and 
then they would make a wild dash for the 
gate! That's being pig-headed. And those 
pigs were not popular with my brother. 

Perhaps you make wrong concessions, 
give in on moral questions just a little, and 
so others come to feel that you lack cour- 
age. And no form of cowardice is ever 
popular. 

But here is the big question. Are you the 
kind of fellow that Christ would like to send 
out to represent him in a schoolroom, ath- 
letic field, or anywhere? The most popu- 
lar man in my college class was the noblest 
Christian in it. What a halfback he was 
on the college team — what a lovable, un- 
selfish, clean-living Christian he was! 

It is just possible that you ought to be 
more liked than you are — not in order to 
be more liked, but in order to do the true 
work of a boy and man in showing forth 
Christ to the world. Christ, indeed, loves 
you. Would he like you? 



WHAT IS INITIATIVE? 

THAT is a bigger word than a boy's 
talk usually contains; but to every boy 
the importance of having initiative is very 
much bigger than the word itself. We must 
know what it is in order to get it and use it. 

Initiative is ability to start things, to 
jump quickly to the doing of something that 
must be done ; to act while others dream ; to 
think ahead of the crowd, in order that plans 
may be ready to meet a need that you be- 
lieve will arise. 

The boy who has initiative, the ability to 
start things, has what is absolutely necessary 
to leadership. The boy without that qual- 
ity cannot be a leader. But how is a fellow 
who doesn't seem to show that quality ever 
going to get it ? 

First, by his habit of thinking. If he 
just thinks other folks' thoughts, he will not 
grow in initiative. A boy on a farm in 
Virginia reaped wheat with what is called 
a ''cradle," a long sickle with a rack of 
wooden rods above it to catch the stalks of 
grain as they fell. He didn't think other 
14 



WHAT IS INITIATIVE? 15 

folks' thoughts about that cradle, because, 
while it suited others, it did not suit him 
at all. So he made a smaller cradle, which 
would do the work as well as the other and 
was easier to handle. Then he kept on think- 
ing out his own ideas, until he invented a 
macliine called a reaper, a device that could 
do the work of twenty men. And Cyrus 
H. McCormick's reaper is now used the 
world around. As a boy and as a man he 
did his own thinking. 

It is said that Edison is responsible for 
more than seven hundred useful inventions. 
He has studied human needs in his own way, 
and then he has studied how to meet these 
needs. He never could have done that, even 
in long hours of toil in his laboratory, unless 
he had made up his mind to think indepen- 
dently. 

Second, a boy must be willing to do 
things that no one else has yet done. A 
boy of nineteen was the captain of a whaler 
on an Antarctic voyage. He was in un- 
charted seas. He determined to know more 
about the region, and in his small sloop 
he discovered a new land. A Russian fleet 
commander cruising in the neighborhood on 



'i6 BOY-TALKS 

an exploring expedition invited the boy on 
board his flagship, congratulated him on 
his find, and named the new land for the boy 
— Palmer's Land. Young Nat Palmer had 
initiative. 

Watch the next football game for signs 
of this quality. Some fellows will do on 
the jump precisely the right thing at the 
critical moment, while others are wondering 
what play would be best. Some fellows try 
hard to think forward, and to act instantly. 
They are pushing the game ahead, not merely 
following the plays. They have initiative. 

Can every boy have it? Yes. If any one 
tells you that you lack it, don't be in the 
least discouraged. Begin at once to think 
your own thoughts, to have your own ideas 
about how to do things among the other fel- 
lows. Think, think, think ! And then prac- 
tise in the smallest things the art of putting 
sound notions into practise at once. Re- 
duce the time between thought and act in 
your games, in your studies, in everything 
you do. Just because a thing has always 
been done in a certain way is no reason why 
you should assume that there is no other 
way. 



WHAT IS INITIATIVE? 17 

A fellow without initiative is like an 
automobile that has to be drawn by a horse. 
It wasn't made for that ; it was made to start 
and to run under a power within. And so 
are you ! 



COURTESY CORNER 

44 'T^ URNING a corner'' in your teens is 
1 such an everyday occurrence that al- 
most any boy knows a good deal about the 
art of it. Some corners are pretty hard to 
get around — algebra corner, geometry, 
Latin, chopping wood corner, errand-run- 
ning, early-to-bed. There is a whole collec- 
tion of them, in fact, that a fellow must 
turn, sooner or later. Sometimes the turn- 
ing raises a lot of dust, and you almost cap- 
size, or take a wheel off; but when you 
once get around, it goes all right. 

One of the hardest corners of all, for 
some fellows, is courtesy corner. There 
may be a time when you even lift your hat 
to a lady with a grudging, half -embarrassed 
jerk of the right arm. You grab your head- 
gear off and clap it on again as though you 
were ashamed to be caught in the act. And 
sometimes you may have looked the other 
way when the unoffending lady sailed into 
sight, just so you wouldn't have to lift your 
hat! 
i8 



COURTESY CORNER 19 



Courtesy is often hard to learn. Some 
of us seem to think that poHteness must be 
carefully guarded against, especially in fre- 
quent or generous doses. And many a boy 
grows up into an awkward and unpleasant 
manner because he never has thought it quite 
the thing to go in for the niceties of man- 
ner that some others may have been trained 
to show. 

For no one ever really turns courtesy cor- 
ner who is always thinking of himself. Of 
course there are polite men and boys who 
are selfish. But true courtesy is not inter- 
ested in self, but in others ; it is not stilted, 
or affected, or monkeyish, but is the hearty, 
eager, graceful, timely expression of the 
right spirit within, showing itself in out- 
ward thoughtfulness toward all. A boy who 
show^s courtesy to his chum's mother, and 
not to his own, is still a savage at heart in 
this respect. True courtesy doesn't choose 
its objects, and veer like a weather vane. It 
does the kindly, generous, thoughtful thing 
in word and in deed, toward young and old, 
rich and poor. 

The writer of these words was told in 
Glasgow this story of Edward VII, who all 



20 BOY-TALKS 



his life was noted for his courtesy. Once 
when he was still Prince of Wales but well 
along in years, he was at the races. At the 
exit gate, as the crowd came down from the 
stand, a man was stationed handing out 
tracts on religious subjects. The prince came 
through the gate, and a tract was offered to 
him by the faithful worker. It did not reach 
his hand, and the prince passed on; but one 
of the men in his party turned back, and 
chided the worker for what the indignant 
man called his * 'impudence" in offering a 
tract to the prince. Thereupon the prince, 
hearing the angry voice, looked back, quietly 
returned to the gate, his friends with him, 
and facing the distributor of tracts lifted 
his hat and asked for a tract. Then, in a 
clear, earnest voice, he thanked the aston- 
ished worker for his kindness. That was 
the prince's rebuke to the man who was 
with him, and his way of giving expression 
to the soul of courtesy that was in him. The 
prince knew the place and worth of courtesy 
in Hfe. 

Boys, if you have been heedless of the 
demands and privileges of courtesy, of little 
and big ways of showing a true-hearted in- 



COURTESY CORNER 21 

terest in the comfort and welfare and feel- 
ings of others, it is high time for you to 
look squarely at the reasons for having and 
showing this spirit, and to begin its cultiva- 
tion. There isn't much danger that we shall 
overdo it. Let's get around courtesy corner 
right now. And the best place to begin is 
at home. If no one but the family is around, 
that is the time to be most happy and real 
in having and showing courtesy at its best. 



"WHEN I GROW UP" 

HOW we look forward to that fascinat- 
ing time when we really shall be "up." 
Grow up? Well, of course, we can hardly 
grow any other way, unless it is "out." Our 
height increases, our chest measure grows, 
our biceps bunch up as big as an orange, 
and we begin to feel as if we were grown up. 
But if you will ask a full-grown man to 
tell you just how he feels about it now, he 
will tell you that there is an up that he has 
never yet reached, even though his hair is 
gray. He is still looking ahead to some- 
thing better and bigger in his life, and he 
doesn't feel as grown up as you think he 
does. The fact is that growing up is a good 
deal like trying to catch to-morrow. To-day 
you expect to find to-morrow somewhere 
along the road, but when you do find it, it 
is to-day, and to-morrow is still just ahead. 
Do you see what is meant? Never upon 
this earth do you grow really up in any fin- 
ished way. So if you put off a good many 
important things until you are a man, even 
when you reach that state you will find the 

22 



"WHEN I GROW UP" 23 

larger manhood just ahead, and you will go 
on putting oft more things of importance un- 
til you are older, and they may never be 
yours at all. 

You are just as much a real person now 
as you will be when you are a man, as far 
as many of the most important things in your 
life are concerned. You do not have to be 
a day older to be clean in thought and deed. 
You do not have to put off thoroughness and 
square dealing and unselfishness until you 
are twenty-one. You do not have to keep 
Jesus Christ standing outside the door of 
your life until you have a man's hand with 
which to open that door to let him in. A 
boy's hand can do that just as well, if not 
better, than a man's. If some of the best 
gifts of God are not taken in now, they may 
be put aside and put aside until your life be- 
comes crowded full of other things. You will 
be grown up soon enough. But you are 
grown up to your present years right now, 
and that is just as it will be Avhen you are 
twenty or forty. The big question is, What 
are you right now, at t^velve, at eleven, or 
at thirteen? 

A little fellow stalked up to his old grand- 



24 BOY TALKS 

father one day, and said importantly: 
* 'Grand father, this is my birthday. I am 
four years old to-day, and four years old 
is pretty old, grandfather." It was pretty 
old for him. He had grown up that far. 
And his grandfather, who was over seventy, 
knew that his seventy years were not very 
many, and that he himself had not yet grown 
up into what he hoped to be. 

What you are to-day is as important to 
you now as what you are twenty years hence 
will be important to you then. 

What are you going to be when you grow 
up? 

" Lord, let me make this rule : 
To think of Hfe as school, 
And try my best 
To stand each test, 
And do my work 
And nothing shirk. 

"These lessons Thou dost give 
To teach me how to live, 
To do, to bear. 
To get, and share, 
To work and play, 
And trust alway." 

We must make each day count now, if 
we are to grow up to be all that we ought 
to be. 



THE DIRECTED SPARK 

IN ONE of Jack London's stories he tells 
the imagined history of Emil Gluck, a 
man who became a hater of every one, after 
years of ill treatment by others. He was an 
able man in scientific matters. He invented 
a way of directing an electric spark by wire- 
less wherever he pleased, and he played havoc 
with persons and places wherever he went, 
exploding magazines in ports and ships, 
shooting his enemies by exploding cartridges 
in their own revolvers, and, in general, do- 
ing deadly harm wherever he could. And 
even in a great review in honor of a king and 
queen he managed to set off the rifles of the 
guards and other soldiers, causing by his 
directed spark an awful time of mysterious 
killing which no one could explain. 

Jack London's visionary tale is strange 
enough, and startling. It is not so very far, 
though, from the truth, if applied to a dif- 
ferent kind of directed spark among ex- 
plosives of another sort. For every fellow 
who reads this book lives among explosives, 

25 



26 BOY-TALKS 

and has in his power a way of setting them 
off, to the injury of some one near by. 

One of the things some of us learn far 
too well is the art of stirring up some one 
with the spark of a taunting or sarcastic 
word. Fellows otherwise kindly, have been 
known rather to enjoy what they call the 
"fun" of saying something that they know 
will cause an explosion in another's sensi- 
tive mind. They like to see the flushed face, 
the snapping eyes, and the clenched fists of 
some one whose weak spot has been reached ; 
and for those who like that sort of sport 
the game is as beautifully cruel in its way, 
and as enjoyable to the one who runs it, as 
Emil Gluck's killings were to him. When he 
was finally arrested, he said he was only 
sorry he had not done more of it, and had 
worked harder and faster at it, but that he 
had taken his time in the certainty that he 
never would be caught. 

His spirit was not very different from that 
of the chap who makes a teacher's life mis- 
erable in an underhanded way, and then is 
sorry when the teacher leaves, because the 
opportunity for such good times is gone. 

Some of us do this sort of thing thought- 



THE DIRECTED SPARK 27 

lessly, though with cruel skill, right in our 
family life, and many a home is made un- 
happy by the explosions caused by these di- 
rected sparks. That sensitive sister of yours 
is easily angered into tears by what you call 
your "fun," but to her it is torture. Perhaps 
she shouldn't feel as she does about it, but 
she does ; and while she does, the explosion, 
with all its ugly results, can be produced at 
your will. It Is amazing what a mere sentence 
of a few ordinary words will do to fill the 
air with broken fragments of good fellow- 
ship. 

Friends have been alienated by such spark 
words; schools have been spoiled, business 
disorganized, homes made unhappy, churches 
hindered in their work, whole neighbor- 
hoods split into hostile camps because some 
one said something that, like Emil Gluck's 
directed spark, caused an explosion. 

Power to do this sort of thing is no credit 
to any one. It Isn't funny, and it isn't smart. 
It never seems to belong to the make-up of 
a healthy, clean-minded, upstanding boy. 
You might expect it from a cobra sliding 
out of a hole in the ground behind a rose- 
bush, seeking to sting to death some one 



2d> BOY-TALK 



gathering roses. You might expect it of a 
bitter-souled being who had come to hate 
every one in sight or out of sight. 

But no sane boy wants to be an Emil 
Gluck; now does he? 



HOLDING ON 

THERE was great excitement on the sail- 
ing vessel when a boy was noticed far 
out on one of the yardarms. He had climbed 
and climbed before any one had noticed him, 
and there he was far out on the yard, cling- 
ing for all he was worth and having a glo- 
rious time.. 

The captain was very much disturbed. He 
turned to the boy's father, and said to him, 
"If he lets go, he will fall on the deck and 
break his neck." 

The father answered very quietly, "He 
will not let go." And the boy did not. His 
father knew him well enough to know that 
when his boy had once taken hold, he was 
not likely to let go, and that he could trust 
his son even in such a place as that. You 
will not be surprised to learn that this boy 
was Rudyard Kipling, whose books some of 
you have read, and whose writings are so 
famous everywhere. 

Some boys could not have been trusted on 
that yardarm. They would have made a 

29 



30 BOY-TALKS 

brave start out along the footropes, clinging 
to the yard; but it would not have taken 
very much to confuse them or make them 
slip, if you can judge by the way they do in 
other positions. It is not every fellow who 
knows how to hold on, or who realizes that 
you don't have to be far up In the rigging 
of a ship, in order to have a bad fall if you 
let go. 

There are other times when letting go is 
just as dangerous, although the results might 
not be so easily seen. It is the injury to a 
boy's mind and spirit that is the chief danger 
in letting go when he is tackling the duties 
that are before him. The very effort to grip 
hard and to decide to hold on when things 
get difficult is wonderful training for the 
mind and the spirit, and if the grip that we 
have is not good for hard times, is it good 
for anything? 

A young man had just been graduated 
from a medical college, and was ready to go 
out to the foreign field as a missionary. He 
offered himself for service anywhere, but he 
especially asked the missionary board of his 
church to send him to the hardest place in 
the world that they knew of. His board 



HOLDING ON 31 

sent him to Arabia, to work among the Mo- 
hammedans. That man, widely known now 
to those who are interested in foreign mis- 
sions, found his field of service hard indeed. 
But he never let go. He was even in danger 
of losing his life, but that did not specially 
trouble him, because he had laid down his 
life at the start. He held on through thick 
and thin, until the people all up and down 
the Arabian Peninsula came to know him 
and to respect him. He has written books on 
his work among the Mohammedans, and his 
missionary talks are just brimful of fire and 
enthusiasm for the field in which he has 
worked. His name is Samuel M. Zwemer, 
and he is to-day one of the most distin- 
guished of missionaries 

A famous editor was once trying to get 
the governors of the thirteen original States 
to send him a letter about George Wash- 
ington for a Washington's Birthday number 
of his paper. He induced nearly all of them 
to send such a letter, but one or two did not 
seem willing to respond. One of his friends 
said to him one day, "Suppose you could not 
get the whole thirteen; what would you do?" 
The editor, thoroughly roused by the ques- 



32 BOY-TALKS 

tion, exclaimed, "Td die in the effort to get 
the thirteenth !" He did get every one, and 
he Hved long afterwards to do many other 
things of the same kind. He never would 
let go of anything he thought God wanted 
him to do. Are you his kind? 



POWER 

AS YOU read these words, your eyes 
move across the page; you have been 
turning the pages with your fingers; your 
mind is making pictures for you when you 
read the word "eyes," or **page," or "fin- 
gers." You do all these things without any 
special effort, and yet the most marvelous 
machinery has been set in motion by you and 
within you. There is power in your brain 
and muscles and nerves, power that does 
wonderful things. Have you thought of 
your power, how you, may develop and 
use it? 

A seed falls into a crevice in a rock. There 
is a bit of earth down there to catch that 
seed and to give it a chance to grow. Then 
a soft green shoot starts up, becomes larger 
and taller and harder; and as it grows it 
requires more room. But the rock shuts it 
in. The growing tree struggles with the 
rock, and the rock gives way by and by and 
makes room for it. What power there is in 
quiet growth! In the seed, power works 
quietly, but with tremendous force; and yet 

33 



34 BOY-TALKS 



there would be no power in the seed if it 
had no ground in which to grow, if it re- 
ceived no nourishment from earth and air. 
So the power in you, physical, moral, spirit- 
ual, can continue and grow only as it is sus- 
tained by proper means. 

Dr. A. F. Schauffler says that some years 
ago a physician in New York, who was mak- 
ing use of electricity to cure diseases, invited 
him to his office, promising to show him 
some queer things. The physician sat Dr. 
Schauffler down in an insulated chair, and 
turned three hundred thousand volts of static 
electricity through his body. Then the shut- 
ters were closed and an electric bulb was put 
in his hands. Immediately the room was 
illuminated by the power streaming through 
his body and changing itself into light. When 
he took hold of a chair attached to a machine 
standing in the corner of the room, the ma- 
chine began to run furiously by means of the 
power streaming through him. The power 
could not have gone through Dr. Schauffler 
and been turned into light and motion, if he 
had not been seated upon an insulated chair, 
and thus been cut off from everything that 
would have dissipated that power. 



POWER 35 



Do you want power? Do you want to 
have in you that which you can use to pass 
on to others in service, in fine achievement, 
in manly living? Then you must see to it 
that no bad habits destroy the delicate power 
centers in your body and brain. You must 
see to it that you are nourished by what God 
offers you in books, in friends, in compan- 
ionship with a fellow's best Friend, Jesus 
Christ. You must see to it that you are in- 
sulated or cut off from influences which 
would rob you of the power that God wants 
you to have and use for others. Then what 
great things God can do through you! 



A GOOD MIXER 

NOT all mixers are good, and mixing of 
itself is not always good. But it is 
a great thing for a boy to learn how to get 
on in any neighborhood, in any school, with 
any kind of fellows into whose company he 
may come. And not only will he find it a 
help, if he learns how to get along with 
folks, but better yet, he will be able to bring 
together into real friendship the fellows who 
really should know each other better. 

We cannot do either of these things if we 
are self-conscious, always wondering what 
others are thinking of us. That keeps us 
looking in instead of out, and makes us 
awkward and over-sensitive to what folks 
are supposed to be thinking or saying about 
us. If we are going to mix in with others, 
or help to make other fellows happier in 
good ways, we cannot be thinking about 
those troublesome selves of ours. 

To be a good mixer, a boy must be able 
to see things as the other boy sees them. 
You may not like everything about him ; but 

36 



A GOOD MIXER 37 

ihai doesn't change the necessity for finding 
something in common with him, if you are 
going to get on together. No two boys can 
work together on the plan of each having 
his own way, and following his own likes 
and dislikes. If it comes to moral issues, 
of course boys may not be able to get on to- 
gether when one has low tastes, and the 
other likes the fresh air of clean thinking 
and living. But in the doings of school and 
field and club and team, there must be plenty 
of generous give and take, the giving of 
honor and preferment and credit for good 
motives, and the taking of slights and mis- 
miderstanding and a good deal of meanness 
from others. One of the greatest of our 
Presidents said in conversation with a young 
man who had asked him how to carry on 
political reform, ''Don't expect too much of 
the people with whom you have to deal." 
No one we meet exactly suits us. And it is 
just possible that we do not suit any one else. 
To be a good mixer, a fellow must be 
cheerful. No pessimist can ever be welcome 
in a crowd. A boy was sent home by the 
leader of a summer camp, because that boy 
was such a very cloudy pessimist that he 



38 BOY-TALKS 

cast a shadow on the whole camp. A few 
years later that boy had so overcome his pes- 
simism, his looking on the dark side of 
things, that he was back in the same camp 
as the leader's assistant, and very popular 
with the boys, who now find him an encour- 
aging friend, and not a figurative wet 
blanket. 

A good mixer need not lower his stand- 
ards. Indeed, if he does, the other fellows 
will be quick to lose their respect for him. 
In a New England city, a boy w^as playing 
in a ball game. Some of the fellows were 
swearing. The thing kept up. Then the 
courageous boy, in a manly way, went 
straight to the fellows who were poisoning 
the air, and said, "See here, unless this swear- 
ing stops, I'm going to quit playing!" They 
knew he meant it, and they stopped. But 
they didn't stop liking him. He is a leader 
among boys. Do you wonder that he can 
get on with others as a good mixer? 

No boy can live an all-alone life. Kis life 
is lived among others. It is his business to 
learn how to get on with others, and to make 
life cheerier and cleaner for the fellows 
around him. 



WHAT'S ON YOUR SHOULDER? 

THAT'S right, take a good look ! Some 
fellows have one thing, some another. 
Some carry a very heavy load, of which they 
are sometimes most unfortunately proud, 
called a chip. Others carry market baskets, 
or lost "kids," or lend the shoulder as a 
support for an old man's hand as he tries to 
cross a crowded street. 

But what do you yourself carry on that 
right shoulder of yours? If the chip is 
clinging there it isn't a pacifying sight to the 
eyes of the fellows you meet. Some will be 
so busy with other things when you come 
along that you will never know they saw you. 
They saw the chip a long way off. They 
knew you by it. That was enough. 

Others will lay for you behind a big tree, 
and when you come along with your favorite 
chip, they will step out to enjoy the gentle 
sport of trying to knock it off, meanwhile 
not caring particularly if you do go home 
with a fine, well-developed black eye. 

Others will say ''howdy" as you pass; 
but they will not detain you, any more than 

39 



40 BOY-TALKS 

they would invite a wildcat to lunch. They 
know too well how glad you would be to mix 
things up with them with reference to that 
chip, and they don't see any fun in going 
with a fellow who always has a grievance, 
and who thinks scrappy thoughts all the time. 
They have something better to do. 

No, there is very little fun anywhere for 
the boy who carries a chip on his shoulder, 
waiting for some one to knock it off. And 
of what earthly use is he so long as he car- 
ries a load like that? It makes him and 
every one else uncomfortable, and it holds 
him back from using his shoulder for other 
purposes. 

Shoulders are not made for the hoisting 
of mean-spirited challenges to others. They 
are built for putting back wheels caught in 
the ruts; for boosting younger fellows up 
places they cannot quite reach without a 
boost ; for carrying wood and water to save 
mother's shoulders, and for lots of other 
burdens that a real boy likeSj. But shoulders 
are not for a chip. 

If you ever go to Boston you will see just 
outside Trinity Church, on Copley Square, a 
wonderful statue of Phillips Brooks, the 



WHAT'S ON YOUR SHOULDER? 41 

great preacher. And you will notice his 
splendid broad shoulders that others noticed 
when he stood before an audience. 

Phillips Brooks was chosen a bishop of 
the Episcopal Church, and yet, in spite of his 
greatness, many persons objected to him as 
a man for that work, because many did not 
agree with his ideas about church manage- 
ment. These attacks became very severe, 
and he was even caricatured in a paper that 
thought it could harm him in that way. But 
he had no quarrel with these enemies. He 
had a bigger w^ork on hand. And when 
Bishop Brooks saw the caricature, he wrote 
these lines : 

And this is then the way he looks, 

This tiresome creature, Phillips Brooks? 

No wonder, if 'tis thus he looks. 

The Church has doubts of Phillips Brooks! 

Well, if he knows himself, he'll try 

To give these doubtful looks the lie. 

He dares not promise, but will seek 

Even as a bishop to be meek; 

To walk the way he shall be shown, 

To trust a strength that's not his own, 

To fill the years with honest work. 

To serve his days, and not to shirk; 

To quite forget what folks have said. 

To keep his heart and keep his head, 

Until men, laying him to rest, 

Shall say, "At least he did his best." 



FLANGES 

THROUGH the black night, over slen- 
der bridges, around sharp curves, and 
through murky tunnels, the express was 
speeding, and the passengers slept. The 
engineer kept up his locomotive's pace with 
confidence, the train crew went about their 
tasks with steady heads, and the train thun- 
dered on through sleeping towns and over 
many miles of open country. 

Well, what of it? Oh, no, there was no 
accident; and the morning dawned happily 
for boys and girls and older folk on that 
train who were on their way to vacations in 
the mountains. Then why tell about such a 
dull and uneventful night? 

It was not so uneventful, after all, down 
where the wheels roared along on the quiver- 
ing rails, and clattered over crossings, and 
pounded against well-closed switches. The 
dust was flying, and sometimes the sparks 
flew, too, when the brake shoes were jammed 
against the wheels ; and the trucks were flung 
from side to side with violent lunges and 
42 



FLANGES 43 



plunges, as though evil giants beside the 
rail were striking at them with sledge ham- 
mers as the train dashed by. No, it was 
not a very quiet night down there, and one 
part of every wheel had a tough time of it 
— the flange. 

You have noticed the flange on car wheels, 
the projecting rim that travels below the level 
of the rails, and just inside them. It is the 
flange that holds the wheels, and so the 
trucks, and so the train to the rails. It is 
the flange that takes the brunt of the awful 
swing around curves, that stands the buffet- 
ings of the lunges from side to side that 
sometimes make passengers sit up in startled 
fashion and wonder what is coming next. 
Something would come next, if it were not 
for the flanges that keep the train from 
jumping the track. 

Now, no one has ever heard of a flangeless 
car wheel that was good for anything. And 
if wheels could talk, they never would ob- 
ject to having that part of their make-up 
most carefully made — that is, no sensible, 
well-rounded wheel would. Yet if you look 
very closely, you can discover, here and 
there, a boy who most decidedly objects to 



44 BOY-TALKS 

having that part of his general make-up 
given much attention by parents and teach- 
ers. Anything that holds him to the track, 
as steadily as flanges hold the car wheels in 
place, is irksome to him. Yet the very things 
that some fellows "simply can't stand" are 
the things that keep them from flying off 
into wreckage for themselves and others. 

What is always being on time, but a flange 
that holds life to its real track of highest 
service ? What is habitual purity in thought 
and deed? What is determined and un- 
swerving honesty, but a means of holding 
true to the rails on the up-and-down, in-and- 
out, dusty, knockabout journey that life is? 
What is discipline in school, at home, at the 
office, but a flange that keeps us all from 
going into the ditch? 

When a fellow feels like complaining of 
any of these things as too hard for him, too 
restraining to his liberty, it might not be a 
bad plan to go down where the express can 
be seen, as it tears holes in the night, and 
yet sticks to the track that the chief engineer 
of the road has laid down for it. Listen to 
the roar of the wheels as the train passes, 
and then, when all is quiet, look up toward 



FLANGES 45 



the stars, traveling through the dark as they 
do on their assigned ways, and ask yourself 
whether the flanges on your personal outfit 
are so needless and troublesome as you some- 
times think. 

No, "think" isn't really the word. For 
the boy who thinks doesn't object to the 
discipline that helps to hold him true. 



HOMESICKNESS 

DID you ever have it ? Then you know 
what it is 1 And perhaps you were not 
quite sure at the time whether you should 
be ashamed of it, or count it a sign of right 
feeling. 

It has its good side, of course ; for a fel- 
low who is never homesick is too hard- 
hearted to know what home really means. 

It has its bad side, too; for we can be so 
blinded by it, so overcome, that we are un- 
fitted for our work. 

A boy was once given a thousand dollars 
by his father for a bicycle trip through 
Europe. He went with some other fel- 
lows across England, and as far as Paris. 
Then one day homesickness swept over him 
like a huge wave, and he was so carried 
away by it that the very next morning he 
was on a steamer sailing from Havre for 
home. All Europe was as nothing when 
homesickness struck in., The Rhine, the 
Alps, the glorious days awheel, and all the 
wonderful things that could be seen, com- 

46 



HOMESICKNESS 47 

pared with home, were of no interest to him, 
just then. That was plainly throwing away 
a great opportunity because of a weakness. 

Some fellows let their school days away 
from home suffer in the same way.^ Study, 
new friendships, athletics — all seem for a 
time dull and empty, and home tugs on the 
heartstrings so hard that nothing else seems 
worth while^ And so golden hours go by 
unused. 

But home should not do anything of that 
sort for us. We should love home, and 
want to be there ; yet it is not honoring the 
home to make it a means of distress and 
harm to us. For the very thought of home 
should stir us to greater and better work, 
quicken our ambitions, invite our strongest 
allegiance, not to be shown by giving way to 
hurtful sickness of heart, but by making 
every day count for the honor of the family 
in that home by our solid and sensible work. 

A boy in a big summer camp was troubled 
so much with homesickness that he hardly 
seemed able to keep on with his work. But 
he stuck to it. He did his work as one of 
the leaders, no matter how distasteful some 
of it became^ He spent plenty of time morn- 



48 BOY-TALKS 

ing and evening alone with God. And one 
of the small boys in his tent proved to be 
a help to him. He was a little Swiss boy, 
not well understood by the other fellows. 
He needed a friend. He looked up to the 
older boy as one who could make things 
brighter for him. In a letter to one of his 
family the older boy wrote: "The little 
Swiss boy is hanging around me now, and 
is homesick himself, so I mustn't show that 
I am," 

Yes, the need In the life of some one else, 
and the game spirit that tells us not to show 
how badly we feel, are good cures for home- 
sickness. The camp leader could keep his 
troubles under in order to be a true leader 
of boys who needed him. 

One man who had been away from home 
on long journeys, said to a young friend: 

"I feel very near to my friends and fam- 
ily when I am away. I have learned that the 
shortest way to them is up," and he pointed 
toward the heavens, "and then from my 
heavenly Father down to them. By that 
route we are very near one another." 

Boys, it doesn't matter whether you are 
fourteen or forty, homesickness needn't be 



HOMESICKNESS 49 

the dark and awful thing that it has some- 
times been, for by the upward route of 
prayer, and the downward flow of its an- 
swers, we may be near and keep near those 
we love. 



VARNISH 

YOU may think that some folks around 
your house are altogether too particular 
about manners, your manners, not theirs. 
Everything must be just so. When you 
meet people, you must look as if you were 
glad to see them, even if you are not glad. 
You think it's pretty hard for a fellow to 
have to remember his manners all the time. 
It seems to you that there is far too much 
show about it. 

Well, some day when you have the oppor- 
tunity, get a good look at a fine violin. Notice 
the beautiful wood used in it, and the grace- 
ful shape of the various parts. It is all so 
neat, and plain, and simple that you don't 
see how a small box like that possibly could 
have cost many thousands of dollars. 

When some one who knows how to play 
takes up that instrument, lovingly fingers it, 
draws the bow across the strings, and the 
violin sings, or cries, or laughs, or sends the 
wind through the trees, or talks to you in 
tender voice, then you begin to realize how 
precious it is^ 
50 



VARNISH 51 



But look again at it. Notice the finish. 
The varnish is wonderfully smooth and clear 
and mellow. You compare it with the var- 
nish on a table or a chair, and you see the 
difference. But the varnish, of course, is 
only an incident in the finish, and you needn't 
pay much attention to that. 

Hold on a moment ! Are you so sure of 
that? Let a maker of violins take up the 
instrument, and he will be curiously inter- 
ested in the varnish. Talk with him on that 
point, and see what he thinks. 

To a friend, a famous maker of violins 
once said that the tone of an instrument de- 
pends much upon the varnish used. He 
would tell no one just how he made his. He 
gathered with his own hands the gums used 
in the process, and refined the preparation 
until he brought it to exactly the perfection 
he desired. He was most particular about 
it all, because he had found that the wonder- 
ful tone of his violins was either helped or 
hindered by the nature of the varnish. 

Perhaps you didn't know that varnish was 
as important as all that. You thought it was 
there just for looks, and to protect the wood^ 
The old maker of violins knew better. 



52 BOY-TALKS 

Some boys know better, too, about the 
varnish we call ''manners." They see that 
something more than looks and outward ap- 
pearance is affected by that finish. For the 
tone of a boy is often made coarser or finer 
by his rudenesses or his courtesies to others. 

No, a fellow mustn't be all manners. A 
violin that is good for anything cannot be all 
varnish. But the really wonderful var- 
nishes are not found on the cheap and un- 
musical instruments. The fine instrument 
is fine in all its points, and it wouldn't be as 
fine without that particularly careful finish. 

On the same day two boys applied for the 
position of office boy in a publishing house. 
The first was a boy who clearly wanted to do 
better than he had been doing, but his out- 
ward manner was such as to lead the man- 
ager of the concern to feel that wherever the 
boy might be sent on an errand, he would 
make a bad impression. His face showed 
that the inner boy was not quite up to the 
mark. 

The second boy had clear eyes that 
looked straight at you. He was direct in 
his way of speaking; he sat straight up 
in his chair while he talked, and his whole 



VARNISH 53 



bearing was that of a boy who not only- 
had fine stuff in him, but who had learned 
to live among others in such a way that 
his outward bearing of courtesy and direct- 
ness was just a natural part of himself. 

You don't have to guess very long to 
decide which boy got the position. 

Varnish isn't a good substitute for charac- 
ter in violins or boys, but it plays its part^ 



THE HALF-FARE TICKET 

HE WAS a fun-loving boy of thirteen, 
who was small for his age. He stood 
at the far end of the station platform, look- 
ing anxiously first toward the station, and 
then up the track. 

"Good morning, Tommy," said a man 
near him. "Are you going to town?" 

"Yes, sir ; and Harry went to buy a half- 
fare ticket for me," the boy answered with 
a laugh. "That's the way we work it. I 
do it lots of times." Then the train rolled 
in, the swarming crowd piled on, and the boy 
with the half-fare ticket was lost in the 
crowd on the cars. 

He was known to the agent at the home 
station, but with the conductors he could 
pass as a boy of eleven, and he did so, hand- 
ing up his half -fare ticket with the feeling 
that it was clever to trick the railroad in that 
fashion. He hardly realized what he was 
doing, because probably he had heard much 
talk about the right of the public to beat the 
railroad whenever it is possible. He thought 
it was a great joke^ 
54 



THE HALF-FARE TICKET 55 

But the half-fare business worked by a 
whole-fare boy is just plain lying and steal- 
ing, rolled together. A ticket represents an 
agreement. The fact that you have bought 
it at a certain price shows that the railroad 
has undertaken to render certain service for 
you on terms that are supposed to be under- 
stood by you. If you are a whole- fare boy, 
you have no right to slip through on a half- 
fare ticket, because the buying of that ticket 
means that you intend to have the road un- 
derstand that you are not above their half- 
fare age limit. If you do buy one, and you 
are above the limit, you haven't been square 
in your dealings with the road. The fellow 
who will do what Tom did, is putting a 
crooked twist into his character every time 
he swindles the road out of half of his fare. 

Many a boy has in this way found the 
half -fare (ticket scheme only an entering 
wedge, nicely designed to split his character 
into fragments. The fellow who will "put 
one over" on the railroad will have trouble in 
seeing why he shouldn't take advantage of 
some other concern, if he can do so. The 
more easily he can fool the railroad, the more 
likely he will be to feel that he can safely try 



56 BOY-TALKS 

shady tricks on others. That notion is in 
itself a breaker-down of character. You 
don't have to wait for results ; the idea itself 
is bad enough as a result. 

Many boys do these crooked things 
thoughtlessly. But sometimes thoughtless- 
ness is pretty costly. Grown men realize 
the danger of an entering wedge of crook- 
edness so keenly that many are as careful 
as can be about the least thing of the sort. 
One day a man crossed the river in a ferry- 
boat. Of course he paid his fare, but he 
immediately came back on another boat, 
without leaving the ferryhouse on the other 
side. As he did not have to pass through 
the ticket gate on his way back, he did not 
pay his return fare. But when he reached 
the side of the river from which he had 
started he went to the ticket window, bought 
a ticket for three cents and then tore it up, 
so that no one else could use it. He did not 
dare to let that three-cent return fare re- 
main unpaid, even though no one but him- 
self ever would know of it. He himself 
would know, however, and the act and the 
knowledge of it would weaken his character. 

Whole- fare boys who try to get along on 



THE HALF-FARE TICKET 57 

half- fare terms are not taking whole- fare 
tickets for the road of righteousness and 
true success. 

Any fellow who thinks he can trick others 
in money matters is tricking himself more. 
The half -fare ticket business may be a prob- 
lem this very week for some readers of this 
book, 

you know the answer. 



THE SECOND LOOK 

A GOOD many of the wrong suggestions 
that hit us are like shots from an am- 
bushed foe. Many a fellow who wants to 
have clean thoughts, nevertheless lives where 
he is bound to see and hear a lot of stuflf 
that could easily poison his mind. He does 
not want to be reminded of low desires and 
uncleanness and trickery and deceit, but 
these things sometimes seem to be just 
thrown at him. What is he to do about evil 
suggestions ? 

He can carefully avoid the crowds and 
places where such stuff is seen or heard. 
Sometimes we become careless about that 
sort of thing, and drift into the very places 
and company we want to avoid. But we 
need not be careless. We can keep a sharp 
lookout. Even when a boy is caught un- 
awares, he can refuse to take the second 
look. This means that a boy whose eye 
gate has been attracted by an evil suggestion 
need not open the gate again the next minute 
even though he was taken by surprise the 
first time. 

58 



THE SECOND LOOK 59 

So many forms of evil come into the mind 
by the eye gate that we need a double guard 
just there. We may not always prevent evil 
from coming up to that gate, and perhaps 
edging in before we are aware of it. We 
can, however, in Christ's strength always re- 
fuse to give evil another chance to get in. 
It is not the sudden and undesired seeing of 
an evil picture that makes our thoughts sin- 
ful, so much as the second look at that pic- 
ture — that is where the raw and degrading 
sin of the will and the mind comes in. For 
the second look is of our own choice, and 
when we choose to let in the poison, and have 
a lurking delight in it, then we have opened 
the gate wide, and the rest of the spoiling 
process is easy. 

A young fellow who has been getting over 
some bad habits, and is coming out into vic- 
tory over them, said a few days ago that he 
had been meeting his sudden and unexpected 
temptations by turning them over at once 
to Christ, and he found that while he had not 
been able before that to conquer the tempta- 
tion to take the second look, Christ had him- 
self given him the victory. He showed his 
freedom, too, in the happy look on his face. 



6o BOY-TALKS 



Just here is a point that will mean success, 
or defeat for you. Nothing on earth can 
make you choose to invite evil into your 
mind, if you will let Christ guard you in that 
very moment. Any boy who will trustingly 
put that plan into practise will be able to 
keep a clean mind, in spite of all sorts of 
outside hindrances. When you "walk with 
the King" it is just as true that he is walk- 
ing with you, and by his presence and power 
guarding you against whatever is hateful to 
him. In his company, why need any of us 
fail to have a clean mind ? The second look 
is a look away from Christy 



WHEN WORK SEEMS HARD 

ON TOP of a certain bookcase is a stick 
of smooth wood, about eighteen inches 
long, two inches wide, and a half inch thick. 
It is there among other things from strange 
lands, not for use, but as a curiosity^ 

That stick is no curiosity in China, the 
land from which it came. It is altogether 
too common. The boys out there have no 
love for it. They know too much about it 
for that. It is a school-teacher's club, 
heavy, hard, and not made for ornament. 

If a boy in one of the village schools does 
not know his lesson, he may get a good hard 
rap on his head with that club. He does 
not understand his lesson, anyway, and very 
likely the teacher does not, but he must mem- 
orize the words, or get acquainted with that 
club. And many a boy has been made an 
idiot by such blows on the head. That sort 
of schooling is indeed the "university of hard 
knocks." It would do many an American 
boy good to take that stick down from the 
bookcase, turn it over in his hands, feel the 

6i 



62 BOY-TALKS 

weight of it, and try it on his own head — ■ 
gently! Then he might reahze that he is 
far better off in school than he thought he 
was. It might lead him to be a Httle more 
quiet about his school hardships, and talk 
more about the advantages he enjoys. A 
teacher in an American school who needs a 
club like that would soon be on his way to 
some other work than school-teaching. Yet 
to hear some fellows talk, you might thinl<: 
something rather worse than Chinese meth- 
ods was used in their school, and just because 
good hard solid work is required! 

And then to see how some students, where 
they are allowed to choose some of their 
studies, will rush to the studies that are easi- 
est for them ! One fellow who finds algebra 
hard will drop it for something easy. He 
would not do that in the gym! He will 
nearly burst a blood vessel lifting heavy 
weights, or he will run around the track until 
his tongue hangs out, because that particular 
stunt is hard. He would not bother with it 
if it were easy. But algebra ! No, no ! not 
that, if he can dodge it. And yet it is the 
hard school work that builds mental muscle, 
just as the hard work in the gym builds hody^ 



WHEN WORK SEEMS HARD 6^ 

muscle. Why, dodging hard work for either 
body or mind is simply making a weakling of 
the dodger! 

We do not want to let easy times look so 
attractive to us. So much is done for us 
now that hard work is getting far too un- 
popular. Most boys suffer from too little 
rather than from too much of it. There 
isn't nearly so much healthy work for a boy 
in working the levers of an automobile as 
there is in working the pedals of a bicycle. 
Yet many a fellow would shed no tears if 
he were given a car in place of his wheel. 

While we should be ready to use new con- 
veniences, we should not lose the advantage 
of good hard work. Some of the most popu- 
lar men, men who have been big in every 
way, did very hard work when they were 
boys. One New York merchant who be- 
came a wealthy and very useful man used 
to get up before daylight when he was a boy, 
sweep the sidewalk and street in front of the 
store where he worked, open up the store, 
clean it, and then go home to breakfast, re- 
turning to take his place as clerk in that store. 
When New York grew, business grew, he 
grew with both, and manhood found hirn 



64 BOY-TALKS 

carrying more work than ever, while train- 
ing others to help. 

And you think you have a pretty hard 
time ! Take down that stick a moment. You 
have nothing as hard as that to bear. When 
the work seems hard, go after it for all you 
are worth, and be glad that things are not 
too easy ! 



AMBUSHED 

DID you ever play Indian? Oh, not re- 
cently, perhaps, but you used to. Do 
you remember how you used to creep along, 
peer among the bushes, and watch for the 
least sign of the enemy? Sometimes you 
couldn't tell him from the leaves of the trees. 
Then again he might be blended with the 
grass, and out of any little hollow he might 
rise up with a yell. 

You didn't mind an open fight when you 
did find him. But to push along through 
the brush, and not know what might leap out 
on you at the next step — well, that was ex- 
citing. 

The old Indian days are repeated in mod- 
ern warfare. Hiding away in trenches, and 
under screens of trees, and even wearing 
clothing that looks like the land itself, all 
these, and other means also, are tried. If 
the enemy can hide, and see you at the same 
time, he has the advantage. 

When they are in a hostile country where 
they can be ambushed, the old woodsmen or 

65 



66 BOY-TALKS 

plainsmen never are careless. They leave 
nothing undone to protect themselves against 
surprise. They act just as if the enemy 
were all around them, ready to spring upon 
them at the least sign of relaxed v^atchful- 
ness. 

Not many years ago, a stocky, bearded, 
keen-eyed, energetic little man appeared in 
America, and wherever he spoke, whether 
to small groups or to large audiences, every 
one sat up and took notice. He was differ- 
ent. His English had odd turns in it, and 
he used words that made you see everything 
in pictures. He knew the Bible. He knew 
Africa also, especially the blackest parts of 
it, for he had lived there for twenty- four 
years, without once coming out. He didn't 
call it ''coming" out, though; he called it 
* 'boring'' out. And when you read of what 
he did in order to get out to the seacoast, 
you can understand what he meant by boring, 
as an auger bites its way through wood. 

This tremendous engine of a man, Dan 
Crawford, has been boring in again. He has 
gone back to his mission station at Luanza, 
and he has written something about that 
journey. At one point on the way he says : 



AMBUSHED 67 

"I did this route by night on the boring-out 
journey four years ago, but this time the 
moon has failed us; therefore such a ven- 
ture is barred. Farther on, near Mukove, 
there are six notorious lions, who really rule 
the road. And to be minus one moon, but 
plus six man-eaters, is a losing transaction, 
for these cunning omnivora — eaters of 
everything — are ambushed in the yellow 
grass alongside the road, and the yellow of 
the grass so matches the yellow of the lions 
that these six sinners boss the forest. We 
were wise," he writes later, "for these law- 
less lions have killed a man just where we 
passed," 

Dan Crawford knew too much to be am- 
bushed by those lions. Would you have been 
as wise? Judging from some of the am- 
buscades we walk right into with eyes wide 
open, those lions would have found some of 
us very easy marks. 

"Lions? Why, we don't have them in 
America!" Yes, we have some which are 
every bit as tricky and clever and dangerous 
as were Dan Crawford's enemies in the night, 
and they get some of us, too, because we 
let them. Impurity, dishonesty, meanness, 



6S BOY-TALKS 

laziness, bad temper, unfaithfulness — why, 
there they are, claws and all! 

It isn't nervy to face them alone in the 
dark; it's foolish, Crawford, the trained 
traveler, wouldn't go on at night without 
moonlight. We are just as unsafe if we are 
trying to meet the yellow lions that would 
rend us, unless we move in the light and 
guidance that God sends for our use. 

Fellows, are you ever caught by the sin 
lions, caught when you least expect to be ? 

Wait for the light next time ! 



EARNING MONEY 

MAKING money is not necessarily the 
same thing as earning money. Some 
grown men spend a good deal of thought 
upon making money, as they call it, but they 
may mean by that that they match their wits 
against some other man's wits, or his ignor- 
ance, and gain money from him, without 
really giving any fair value in return. That 
is not what is meant here. 

Money in your hands should mean that 
you have put value of some kind into the 
hands of some one in return for the money. 
A boy wants that fishing rod of yours more 
than you want it. You sell it to him for a 
little money, which he does not want as much 
as he wants the rod, and you take the money, 
which you want more than you want that 
rod. And that is what goes on in all honor- 
able business. 

Earning money is simply exchanging 
something you have for sale that some one 
else wants in return for his money. And 
it is a great thing for any boy to look around 

69 



70 BOY-TALKS 

to see just what he has that some one else 
would like to pay for. Oh, not up in the 
garret ! You may think from what has been 
said about the rod that something of that sort 
is meant here. No, there is likely to be some- 
thing you have that you can sell in such a 
way that the more you sell of it the more you 
have. How can that be? 

There is a boy who has gone out day after 
day in the early morning to study birds.. He 
has listened carefully to their songs, and has 
learned to imitate many of them. Some 
grown folks who have heard him are now 
asking him to give evening entertainments, 
showing pictures of the birds, telling a little 
about each of them, and imitating their calls. 
Give ? No ; because those who want him to 
do this know that he is glad to earn money, 
and they want to buy his skill for the even- 
ing. And the more he sells of that skill, the 
more skill he will have for sale. 

Perhaps a boy has made a study of garden- 
ing. He knows how. A good many folks 
in town may not know how. He could get 
some of these folks to let him use parts of 
their ground for gardening on shares, paying 
them in fresh vegetables for the use of their 



EARNING MONEY 71 

ground, and selling most of his produce to 
make his profit. In this way he turns his 
knowledge into money, and all connected 
with the transaction are better off because of 
his use of his skill. 

Another boy has a large acquaintance in 
his home town. People are glad to see him. 
They want him to succeed^ They would 
rather deal with him than with some others. 
So he gets orders for butter, and he gets his 
butter fresh every week from an agricultural 
coUege. That boy is now delivering his but- 
ter on a bicycle* 

How many ways there are to turn your 
skill into money! It is more than likely 
that you can do something right now that 
some one else must pay some one for doing. 
Try to find out what that is. One boy re- 
cently has made enough by selling a book to 
buy a trombone and a piccolo, instruments 
upon which he is learning to play. 

But you do not have to work for a living, 
you say. Father looks after that, does he? 
Well, not one of the boys mentioned here 
has to work for a living, either. Each one 
of them believes that it is better for him to 
earn money than to have it given him all the 



^2, BOY-TALKS 

time,, What do you think about it? One 
boy, whose father paid his way through pri- 
vate school and college, used to sell type- 
writer supplies to earn money. He did not 
have to. He wanted to^ There's a differ- 
ence! 



GIVING MONEY 

HOW would you like to have your hands 
so crooked with rheumatism that you 
could not straighten out your fingers? It 
would be pretty hard not to be able to open 
out your hands.. 

There are some men who cannot open 
their hands who cannot blame it on rheu- 
matism. If any one asks them for a dime, 
suddenly a cord working from a hard heart 
seems to pull those fingers tight shut, and 
they do not open out at all in response to the 
call for the dime. 

It is a sad business for any man when he 
becomes so selfish that he cannot do open- 
handed deeds of generosity., Usually his 
trouble is that he did not begin early enough. 
If, when he was a boy, he never gave any 
thought to giving to others, he may have lost 
the ability to give as he grew older^ 

The fellow who shares his possessions 
with other boys is getting ready to be a good 
giver when he grows up. It may seem a 
small matter indeed to give a nickel regu- 

73 



74 BOY-TALKS 



larly in the Sunday-school class, but if 
everybody in the Sunday-schools of North 
America did that each Sunday, it would mean 
a gift of about one million dollars every 
week. And more than this, it would mean 
that a great company of young people would 
be learning how to give ; and that would pro- 
vide many millions for Christian work from 
these trained givers when grown up. 

It is a good plan to set aside, from all the 
money you get, at least one cent from every 
ten, to be given to work for others at home 
and abroad. You can have a special bank 
for this. When you get ten cents, drop one 
of them in that bank. When you get a dollar, 
drop in ten cents. If the church needs money, 
if the Sunday-school is taking care of a mis- 
sionary, and asks for money for his support, 
you have something on hand from which you 
can draw. 

Do not worry about the small amount you 
have to give. Many a man who gives ten 
dollars out of a large income is not giving 
as much as the boy who gives ten cents out 
of his small income. 

It is a big thing for us to learn that the 
money we have does not belong to us. We 



GIVING MONEY 75 

are nothing more than caretakers or stew- 
ards. All the wealth of the world is a part 
of the great storehouse of God, and our little 
share of it is a part of the great whole. The 
writer asked a wealthy man what his plan 
had been for giving money. '^I have never 
felt," he answered, "that I should limit my 
giving to any special amount of my income; 
I have felt that it all belonged to God, and 
that any call I believe is from him should be 
answered by what help I could give." An- 
other man, much younger, but very success- 
ful in business, and well known to the writer, 
spends on himself a very small part of his 
income, and gives away by far the largest 
part of it in Christian work. He gives so 
much that people often think that he is a 
wealthy man. But he is not wealthy, except 
in the willingness to count himself a steward 
or caretaker of the money that God sends 
into his life. 

Any boy who will begin to think of him- 
self as one who has money in trust for God 
will soon learn how to give in the right way, 
and he will not begrudge what he gives, 
either. 

Don't let your fingers get crooked so 



76 BOY-TALKS 

tightly around the coin that they do not 
know how to let go. Fingers are made to 
open, as well as to close^, 



SAVING MONEY, 

THE good athlete always keeps a little 
strength laid away in his heart and mus- 
cles against the day of a big demand on him. 
One of the rules in high- jump training is to 
clear the bar just enough to get over, and to 
hold strength in reserve for the greater 
heights., 

That seems like good sensCj And most 
of us do show good sense in saving up almost 
everything but money. In money matters, 
many of us are like natives in the tropics 
where fruit is the staple diet, and easy to get. 
They live on the day's findings, and as for to- 
moirow, well, to-morrow will be all right! 

Money has a way of not helping one to 
save. The touch of it suggests things we 
want. Usually it is not much trouble for 
the money to persuade us that spending 
would be a good thing, and for the thing we 
want to persuade us that right now is the 
time to exchange idle money for it. 

But what about that word "idle"? Is 
money doing nothing when we keep it, and 

17 



78 BOY-TALKS 

busy only when we spend it? No; we can 
keep money busy without spending it. 

Suppose out of every ten cents you get, 
you make it a rule to drop one cent in your 
bank, or out of every dollar, ten cents. If 
you have gathered ten dollars by earning it, 
or through gifts, and have put away ten cents 
out of each dollar, you would then have a 
clear dollar saved. That is easy; I mean 
easy to figure, not easy to do! But try it 
Try it for a good long while, until saving 
that ten cents from every dollar becomes a 
habit. It is the very least you ought to do. 
You may want to do more. 

Now take that dollar to a savings bank. 
Suppose you get it up to ten dollars, by add- 
ing others to it. Let that ten dollars alone, 
and it will earn for you thirty cents, let us 
say, in a year. The bank lends your ten 
dollars to some one who pays the bank sixty 
cents for the year's use of it, and the bank 
pays you thirty cents. The bank charges six 
percent, and gives you three percent, and the 
difference is the bank's earnings to pay ex- 
penses and profits. 

At the end of one year, your ten Hollars 
has earned thirty cents for you. You now 



SAVING MONEY 79 

have $10.30 in the bank. At the end of an- 
other year you have three percent of $10.30 
to be added, making it $10.60. If you let 
that ten dollars alone for five years, it will 
have earned for you $1.56. 

This may seem a long road to a good bank 
account, but the money you put away there 
IS working all the time to add to itself, and 
that is more than it would do if you spent it. 

The practise of saving money is fine train- 
ing for saving a little margin in other things. 
It is a good thing to have spare strength, 
time, brains, patience, moral courage, money ; 
why, we need a margin all along in every- 
thing. So whenever you get ten cents, just 
count on putting at least one cent of it into 
your bank. Save one tenth all the time, 
year in and year out, and you will always 
have a little money laid by for an emergency, 
a little that is working for you, steadily in- 
creasing itself. That is much better than 
"going broke." 



SPENDING MONEY 

IT IS a good thing to know how to earn 
money; it is just as needful to know how 
to spend it. And to know how to spend 
money wisely is as hard as to know how to 
earn it. A good many earners have learned 
that to their sorrow. 

Some boys act as though money should be 
treated very much as they treat a fire balloon ; 
they hold it just long enough to decide when 
to let it go, and then up it goes, and disap- 
pears, or it flares up, and flutters away in 
ashes. Some, to whom money comes easily, 
let it go easily. If money costs you little, 
you are likely to let it go for little. The boy 
who earns his money by good hard w^ork 
is likely to find it harder to part with than if 
it had just dropped into his pocket from a 
generous hand. 

A young man who was describing his own 
care in spending money said that he knew 
what a cent was w^orth, because he used to 
dig fishworms, carry them four miles, and 
sell them for ten cents a hundred. Now, 
80 



SPENDING MONEY 8i 

when you have dug up a hundred worms, to 
be sold at ten for a cent, and have walked 
four miles to market the result of your min- 
ing, you have learned that a cent amounts to 
something. 

And it does. Suppose you spend three 
cents for candy. The candy is gone in about 
three minutes. If you had a dollar in the 
savings bank, it would probably take that 
dollar a whole year to earn three cents for 
you, in what the bank would pay you for the 
use of the dollar. 

The biggest business men are the most 
careful about spending in their business. 
There is a certain food product that sells for 
five cents. It seems strange that it can be 
sold for so little. The maker was asked 
how he made any money at that price. He 
replied, "Do you notice that the corners are 
not square, but are cut off a little? What 
we save on those corners is our profit." You 
see how closely thoughtful men calculate on 
spending. 

A man of wealth took a pair of shoes to 
the cobbler to be repaired. He asked the 
price. The cobbler told him. "No," said 
the man., "I shall not have the work done. 



d>2 BOY-TALKS 



for the shoes are not worth it." He was a 
student of values. 

If men with plenty of money are so care- 
ful about spending, how about the need for 
care in your own money-spending, while you 
are forming your habits for life? 

Suppose you ask yourself these questions 
w^hen that dime gets to burning a hole in 
your pocket, and you want to buy something 
with it: 

Do I need the thing I want, or do I only 
just want it? 

Will it make me any better in any way ? 

Is it worth the dime, taking into account 
what that dime cost me, or cost some one who 
gave it to me? 

Is the money really mine to spend, or do 
I owe it to some one else? 

Now that I have the money, what is the 
best use I can make of it? 

How much of that dime should I save? 

How much should I give away to help 
some one else? 

If a fellow will give himself an honest 
answer to these plain questions, his savings 
bank will give a heavier "ker-chink" when he 
shakes it ; perhaps some other boy out in the 



SPENDING MONEY 83 

mission field will have a book, or a week's 
schooling, or a Bible, or some food to keep 
him from starving; and the thing the 
straight-seeing, careful boy will buy with 
his money will be something the value of 
which he has really considered. 



JUST NEGLECTED 

A GOOD many of us think that we are 
much more excusable when we have 
just neglected to do the thing we were ex- 
pected to do, than if we had done some sort 
of damage that we were not expected to do. 

Crash! goes the ball through the plate- 
glass window. There was no neglect about 
that. We don't even try to make any excuse 
for it. We tell how it occurred, and take 
our medicine. 

But when the letter that should have been 
mailed three days ago falls out of a pocket 
just as we are turning handsprings, we apolo- 
gize by saying that we are sorry we forgot 
about it. Perhaps the damage was far worse 
than broken glass, but somehow neglect 
seems different. 

The new bicycle can be kept new in ap- 
pearance for months. It is out in the rain 
one day, and then it isn't cleaned for twenty- 
four hours. It is just neglected, that's all. 
When father looks at it he seems surprised 
to find the spokes rusted. Then you light- 

84 



JUST NEGLECTED 85 

heartedly explain that you forgot to clean 
the wheel. Letting the wheel alone at the 
wrong time can do as much positive damage 
as hitting it w^ith a hammer in the wrong 
places. Yet somehow we don't have quite 
the same feeling about neglecting the wheel 
that we should have about smashing it up 
stupidly and wilfully. 

The trouble is that we don't realize what 
little difference there is between doing the 
wrong thing and not doing the right thing. 
The railroad man knows. It is just as bad 
for an engineer not to see the signals as it is 
for him to see white when the light is really 
red. Not seeing is no more excusable in him 
than seeing wrong, and the wreck on the road 
may be equally bad in either case. 

The boy at the seashore who neglects to 
pull his boat up far enough from the tide is 
just as much cast away on the island when 
the boat floats away as if he had cut the 
painter with a knife, and had pushed the 
boat away from shore with his own hands. 
The camper who neglects to put matches in 
his pack has just as hard a time to make a 
fire as if he had purposely thrown his box 
of matches out into the lake. 



86 BOY-TALKS 

No, neglecting to do the right thing has 
the same consequences as doing the wrong 
thing. A boy doesn't show good sense when 
he makes light of his neglects. Promises 
must be kept. Broken things must be fixed. 
Rust must be given no opportunity to get its 
ruinous grip upon tools or upon character. 
The running gear on sailing boats often must 
be carefully overhauled to see that no part 
of it is too much worn, or too stiff, or in a 
condition to jam ; for when the squall comes, 
every rope must be free to do its work with- 
out a hitch, every block must be clear and 
running smoothly, or no one knows what 
damage may result. 

Let's not get into the easy way of saying, 
*'0h, I just neglected it, that's all!" Let's 
be as much on our guard against neglect as 
we would be against doing the most direct 
harm we can think of. Let's be right "on 
the job"! 



"OPENED BY CENSOR" 

HOW would you like to have all the let- 
ters you write opened and read by 
some one you do not know? You probably 
do not have enough personal correspondence 
to keep any one busy opening it, and your 
letters probably contain very few state se- 
crets, but it isn't pleasant to think of 
strangers opening and reading your letters, 
even if you only say: 

''Dear Jim, I wish you would cum and 
make me a vizit this summer. We can swim 
and go fishing and" • 

Well, you know how you would write to 
your old pal Jimmy. You wouldn't say any- 
thing that others couldn't safely read — if 
they could make out the writing and the 
spelling — but the letter would be for Jim, 
not for any letter opener on the way. 

Now the writer of these words has a let- 
ter in his pocket from a friend in London, 
and right over the top of the letter is pasted 
a big white label, on which in big black let- 
ters are the words, "Opened by Censor." 

It doesn't say who this man Censor is. 

87 



88 BOY-TALKS 

He may be a woman. In war days ''Cen- 
sor" must be a good many different persons, 
for the governments feel that they must see 
that no letters go out of a country, or come 
into it, without being read by a censor. The 
censor must strike out of a letter anything 
that the government would not want people 
to learn. So letters going to or coming from 
a war zone are not private. They are pub- 
lic and open to the censor; some of them 
never get to the persons to whom they are 
addressed. The censor just stops such let- 
ters. Why, a missionary on his way home 
from Syria was examined at one of the 
Turkish ports, and not only were all let- 
ters of every kind taken from him, but every 
bit of paper with any writing on it, includ- 
ing even his small engagement book, had to 
be left in the hands of the authorities. The 
only way letters can safely be carried in that 
part of the world in war-time is underneath 
your hat, far underneath it, in the little 
memory boxes in your brain. The censor 
can't look there. 

When we seal up a letter, we naturally 
suppose that this makes it private. The gov- 
ernment sometimes thinks otherwise, how- 



"OPENED BY CENSOR" 89 

ever. When we think our thoughts, and do 
things, good or bad, which we suppose no 
one else observes, we imagine that no cen- 
sor, at least no human censor, is going to 
note these thoughts or deeds. But all such 
things do come to light, and the envelopes 
in which we think they are hidden turn up 
labeled, "Opened by Censon" For our 
thoughts, as well as our deeds, come to the 
surface, where others may easily read them. 
There is no use in trying to cover up what 
we don't want known. It is far better to 
have nothing to cover up! 

In the letter quoted at the beginning of 
this talk, there was nothing that could not 
be safely read by the censor. Indeed, as the 
watchful eyes ran over it, they must have 
been glad to read such a happy, cheery mes- 
sage as that letter was. 

Fellows, is there anything about your 
plans for to-day, or for any day, that you 
wouldn't want the folks at home to open 
and read? Is there anything in them that 
you wouldn't expect the most loving and 
searching Censor, the Lord Jesus, wholly to 
approve? If there is, then bury or burn 
those plans! 



WHEN WHITE IS BLACK 

ONE thing which is sometimes called 
* 'white" is, in fact, always black. 
Some call it "white" because its real color 
is hard for many persons to see. This thing 
which some of us call "white," which always 
is black, is the white lie. 

The white lie is one that is supposed to 
help the other fellow, and seems so harmless 
that it doesn't seem to amount to anything; 
or perhaps it is intended to keep us out of 
trouble, without seeming to harm any one 
else. 

To some fellows, the white lie is as handy 
as a pocketknife. It cuts almost any knot. 
It shapes up almost any circumstance that 
no other knife could touch. It scratches out 
blots. It is so handy to use, and so effective, 
that it isn't quite safe to go to school without 
it, or to go home at the day's end without it. 
The white lie is a very handy tool. 

But it is a queer tool. Unlike a good 
knife, there is always something about it 
that you want to keep covered up. The white 
90 



WHEN WHITE IS BLACK 91 

lie is black, when you see its true color, and 
it has a wicked handle that cuts the hand 
which holds it. 

Why isn't the white lie as white as we wish 
to think it is ? Why does it cut both ways ? 
Just because it is a lie, and a lie never can 
be anything but black, and never can do any- 
thing but harm. You might just as well 
talk about deadly gas being harmless, or a 
dishonest boy meaning well, as to talk of a 
white lie. The nature of the thing is black. 
You couldn't trust a God who could lie. 
You never trust solidly in any fellow who 
brags about how cleverly he lied to shield 
himself, or even to shield some one else, from 
trouble. God can give us the right to do 
many things, but we couldn't think of trust- 
ing him if we believed that he could give us 
the right to tell lies. 

It's a temptation for a fellow to twist 
the truth, or to say what isn't so, in order 
to help some one else. But when he does 
that, he uses a tool that has on it God's warn- 
ing marks of disapproval. If you tell what 
isn't so, with the intention of deceiving some 
one, you never can change the character of 
that act by calling it "white." 



92 BOY-TALKS 



Any boy who thinks that a Httle white 
lying works pretty well should read what 
Dr. Richard Cabot, a leading Boston doc- 
tor, says about it. No boy in school is ever 
more tempted to lie in a good cause than a 
doctor who wants to keep from a sick man 
the real truth about himself. Dr. Cabot says 
this: 

"Lies work only as long as confidence is 
firm. But every lie undermines confidence. 
I never have known a patient made worse by 
learning the nature of his disease. The liar 
is trying to cut off the branch on which he 
sits, to destroy the credit and confidence that 
makes it possible to deceive any one. Be- 
cause God is in his world, we fight against 
reality, against the universe, when we raise 
our puny voices to lie." 

Doesn't that white lie look rather black ? 



A NEVER-EMPTY POCKETBOOK 

HE WAS a boy very much like you, a 
fun-loving, go-ahead boy, v^ith a Hking 
for lots of the good things you like. He 
was exercising in the school gymnasium at 
recess when something fell out of one of his 
pockets, and some of the boys laughed. (I 
wonder what would fall out of your pocket, 
if you should hang head down from a hori- 
zontal bar?) The boy picked up the fallen 
object, put it into his pocket again, and went 
on as before. And he kept on carrying it, 
too, in spite of the laugh, and now that he 
is a big fellow, more than six feet tall, he still 
keeps that same thing in one of his pockets. 
The laugh didn't hinder him. 

What startled some of the boys in the gym 
was to see a Testament drop from another 
boy's pocket. But why? Isn't the Book 
good enough to carry ? Isn't there anything 
in it worth reading ? Why not that book in 
a boy's pocket, if any reading at all is ever 
tucked away there, or even if nothing else is 
so carried? Some fellows are not yet quite 
level-headed on such a question. They 

93 



94 BOY-TALKS 



wouldn't laugh if a dime novel fell out. They 
would jump for it, and the quickest boy 
would borrow it. What's the trouble with 
a good copy of the New Testament? 

None whatever. The trouble is all in the 
mind of the boy who thinks it's queer to 
have one with him. That Book, taken to- 
gether with the Old Testament, is the book 
of greatest interest to more people on the 
face of the earth than any other book known 
to mankind., Why not to a sensible boy? 

There are thousands of boys, and thou- 
sands of men, in many parts of the world to- 
day who are carrying a pocket New Testa- 
ment, and reading something from it every 
day. They belong to the Pocket Testament 
League. They also belong to the very sen- 
sible company of boys and men who know 
a good plan when they see it.. The laugh is 
on the fellow who doesn't know enough to 
do likewise, or, for some queer reason, is 
ashamed to. 

Why, you are not even well educated if 
you are ignorant of that Book. There are 
the most interesting doings in it ; the bravest, 
whitest, most glorious heroism in it that you 
could possibly imagine — and more. And 



NEVER-EMPTY POCKETBOOK 95 

it gives you such light as no other book can 
give when things look dark and you don't 
know how you are ever going to get on.; 

A boy who will carry a book like that in 
his pocket is pretty likely to get some of it 
into his life. I saw one day a little Bible 
that a young Scotchman had carried in his 
pocket during years of fighting to defend the 
old faith, the old Church, that he loved. And 
that very Bible upon which I looked had been 
handed by him to his wife as he stood on the 
scaffold in the old Grassmarket in Edin- 
burgh about to give up his life. But Cap- 
tain John Paton was no more loyal to the best 
and truest in life than you want to be, and 
can be. It's a warfare that we are in, and 
the King whom we serve gives us his counsel, 
his commands, in his Book. Before you try 
to get on without that, remember that loyal 
service ought to be intelligent service.. 

If you should do the giant swing, or walk 
on your hands along the parallel bars, would 
just stuff and nonsense drop out of your 
pockets, or perhaps the Book? And when 
you come to do with head and heart harder 
things than those, what will go out of your 
doings that will be of use to others ? 



"SWEET CAKES AND NO AXE!" 

THAT was a wet night at Bog Pond! 
The woods and the ground and the sky 
above us, and the big swampy pond near us, 
were all as wet as wet could be, and we were 
wet, too. Five of us had made our way up 
through the dripping woods and across some 
swampy land, and had ferried ourselves over 
the pond in a small boat to a little camp 
that we found just beyond the edge of the 
cliff.^ Since there was room in the cabin 
for only two of us, we pitched our army 
shelter tent just outside, and in that three of 
us Intended to sleep. As we had two tents 
with us, we doubled the thickness of the shel- 
ter by using both of them. 

As we were clearing our supper away, 
four men and a boy appeared, plunging ex- 
citedly into the little clearing around the 
camp. We soon learned that they were 
really lost, although I suppose they could 
have found their way out after a fashion. 
They had started to find a camp in that 
region, but were not able to, and conse- 
quently found themselves without shelter. 

96 



"AND NO AXE!" 97 

Those men were a sight. They were 
soaked through, and they had no camping out- 
fit with them. They begged us to do some- 
thing for them, so we took a part of our 
shelter tent and pitched it back of our cabin, 
and then made room for the boy in the cabin 
itself. The men built a big fire in front of 
their tent, and two of them sat up all night 
to keep it going in order to make it more 
comfortable for the older men of the party. 

In the morning, when the grateful wan- 
derers were about to go away from the camp, 
they turned over to us the provisions they 
had not used. They were on their way 
home and would need nothing more. Among 
these provisions was a fruit cake. 

These men, the night before, had been 
obliged to borrow an axe to get wood for 
their fire. Now one of our number was an 
observant young man who had lived in the 
country most of his life, and was accustomed 
to be prepared for almost anything that 
might occur in the woods. As the wanderers 
were making their way off through the 
woods, he said significantly, looking at the 
cake, "Well, well! a sweet cake — and no 
axe!" 



98 BOY-TALKS 

Those men were not unlike other men, or 
boys — some boys. It is so easy for almost 
any of us to be unprepared and to plan for 
burdens which will be of no use to us in our 
undertaking. Indeed, many a boy will take 
a lot of trouble to prepare luxuries for him- 
self when he ought to be preparing necessi- 
ties. Sometimes in our very studies we 
make this mistake. We take things that are 
easy and simple, but which after all will be 
of very little use in training us for difficult 
places in our lives. 

True mastery of one's work comes from 
preparation. I heard an educator say that 
he would rather give a man thirty years of 
preparation and three years of work, than 
three years of preparation and thirty years 
of work. I don't know whether you would 
all agree with that or not, but there was a 
truth in it. 

The path over which we are going through 
life may take you into deep woods, and may 
keep you there over night ; and when you are 
there you will want to have an axe far more 
than you will want to have cake^ Don't 
forget the axe ! 



THROUGH THE BREAKERS 

IT SEEMED all right when the yacht put 
out from harbor and sHpped away to sea 
by the North Channel. The sun was shining 
brilliantly. The wind was fresh and keen, 
and the little party in the boat believed they 
were off for a fine sail. 

By the middle of the afternoon the shore 
was miles away, and with the waning light 
came just a little stiffening of the breeze, 
and the horizon thickened. The sea took on 
a touch of gray, and the waves began to toss 
their broken edges into foam. 

The old seaman at the tiller saw that the 
breeze was fresher now, that the tide was 
running out, and from the direction of the 
wind, he believed that there would be more 
sea on the bar than when he came out. 
Without consulting his three passengers, he 
put his boat about and headed for shore. 

By this time the breeze was strong and 
vicious. Flaws were striking the water with 
dark shadows. All the other boats had been 
running for harbor for some moments before 
the "Flash" was put about. 

99 



100 BOY-TALKS 

The skipper of the "Flash" knew that 
there were two channels leading into the 
harbor, one at each end of the bar. When 
the sea was heavy, these channels were not 
always fit for small boats. It seemed to him 
that the South Channel was perhaps better 
to try than the North, so he made for that. 
When he reached it, the wind was stronger 
than ever, and he saw the breakers tumbling 
clear across the channel. He fought his way 
up to the North Channel, and found that 
that, too, was white with broken water. 

There was only one thing now that he 
could do, if he was to make harbor with any 
hope of keeping his boat afloat — he must go 
down to the middle of the bar where there 
was a little depth of water, and try to cross in 
the surf, running his boat straight for the 
harbor at right angles with the bar, and 
trusting that the seas might not break over 
the stern. 

He put life preservers on the two women 
passengers, while he and the man passenger 
made ready to manage the boat on the dan- 
gerous run. Straight at the bar they drove, 
and the yacht lifted to a sea that followed. 
They swept forward in the white water, were 



THROUGH THE BREAKERS loi 

buffeted by the surf, lifted high by one wave 
after another, and finally were carried clear 
of the bar, and into the quieter waters be- 
yond. Only the finest seamanship could have 
done this with the little yacht, and only a 
perfect knowledge of the water and the tides 
could have made it in the least reasonable for 
a man to dare the run that the skipper made. 

It makes a big difference when you have 
the right captain in your boat. There is a 
good deal of water through which a boy must 
sail day in and day out where he is a stranger. 
He doesn't know the depth ; he doesn't know 
the channel. He needs One at the helm who 
knows all this, who can steer straight through 
the heavy seas. 

You may not be the sort of fellow who 
imagines that he knows it all, or who allows 
his boat to be hung up on a sand bar, or cap- 
sized in the surf. You may have sense 
enough to know when you don't know, and 
to trust some one who knows more than you 
do. It is a bit of a temptation to some fel- 
lows, however, to think that they can go 
along without a Pilot. It may seem rather 
fine to be able to run our own craft wherever 
we please, but the fact is that we simply don't 



102 BOY-TALKS 

know how to do it. A boy shows his real 
character, his real sense, when he is willing 
to trust his affairs to One who is eager and 
ready to guide on fair days and foul. Jesus 
has been over your sailing ground. He 
knows the way to harbor in storm and in fog 
and in heavy sea. If you'll just let him 
take the tiller, he will see you across into the 
quiet water. Doing that will make all the 
difference between a wreck and a good land- 
ing. 

Will you turn the helm over to him ? 



» 



THE CUSHION OR THE CLIMB? 

A MAN who was walking one day along 
a busy city street saw coming toward 
him a faultlessly dressed little woman whom 
he knew. He stopped to speak with her. 
Since he had last seen her she had become 
famous as an explorer, a climber of moun- 
tain peaks not before reached by any 
woman.. Her stories of adventurous ascents 
were in the magazines, her lectures were 
largely attended. On the sidewalk that 
morning she looked much as other well- 
dressed women do, only that she walked par- 
ticularly well, and as she talked her eyes 
fairly shone with interest. 

For Miss Dora Keen had learned the joy 
of doing something that took courage, and 
muscle, and endurance, something harder 
than most people ever attempt. And one 
thing she said would go straight to the heart 
of any true boy. Indeed, she seemed like a 
vigorous boy as she stood there telling of 
her experiences. "I used to go up moun- 
tains just as other people do, by train, or in 

103 



104 BOY-TALKS 

some other easy way ; but I never knew any- 
thing about the real joy of reaching a moun- 
tain peak until I climbed some of the highest 
and hardest. Oh, then you appreciate so 
much more what it is to be in such a place !'' 
she exclaimed. It was worth while to have 
stopped for a few moments to get that enthu- 
siastic word. 

This message is being written beside Echo 
Lake in Franconia Notch, New Hampshire, 
just over the big hill that mounts a steep 
three miles above the valley; and not far 
away is the trail that leads for three miles its 
stony way up the sides of Mount Lafayette. 
Only a few years ago one used to see any 
number of trampers with their packs and 
alpenstocks, climbing toward the base of La- 
fayette, and then up the rough trail to the 
glorious cloud-capped summit. Many a 
husky boy about your age has made that 
trip. 

To-day the trampers are few. Anywhere 
near the hill you can hear the roaring stac- 
cato of the automobile engines driving great 
cars up the steep road. And resting easily 
in the cushioned seat of that one just grind- 
ing past is a big, broad-shouldered boy who 



CUSHION OR CLIMB ? 105 

by a touch of his foot or his finger mounts 
to the Notch; and does he halt at the trail 
where it starts up Lafayette? Probably he 
never even sees it, as his car bowls along the 
now level road, and then switches down the 
first short slope toward the Flume. A few 
years ago that boy would have climbed La- 
fayette. It really isn't a hard climb. But 
now the trail isn't much used, and countless 
cars flit past its opening in the woods. 

Has the boy in the car lost something that 
Dora Keen found? 

To-day, while these words are being writ- 
ten, four boys are on their way up the Lafay- 
ette trail. It will take them about three 
hours to reach the rocky summit. They will 
earn all they get. When they emerge from 
the timber, the cloud drift from the south 
will be close about them. At the summit 
they will breathe exhilarating, tingling air, 
and their eyes will range over a tremendous 
panorama of mountains and valleys, lakes 
and rivers, forest and crag, sunshine and 
fleeting cloud shadows, and the joy of en- 
durance and achievement will be theirs. 

The true summit always is the hard work 
in itself, toughening to the fiber, and giving 



io6 BOY-TALKS 



a new outlook quickening to the spirit. Fel- 
lows, are you getting a little too much inter- 
ested in the easy -cushion sort of thing, and 
the lever that will turn a giant loose to do 
your work for you? Then you are going 
to miss something that the race of mankind 
needs from you' — the willingness to see 
and to practise the uses of hard tasks that 
belong to what is most worth your while. 



THAT SISTER OF YOURS 

4C/^H, WELL, she's only my sister !" In 
V^that offhand way the boy who doesn't 
know as much as he thinks he does disposes 
of his own discourtesy or carelessness toward 
the girl who calls him ''brother." 

That's one way of looking at it, and a very 
poor way, too. A boy's attitude toward his 
sister tells a good deal about the kind of fel- 
low he really is. If he treats her contemptu- 
ously, ignores her in the family plans, does 
nothing much to help her, and strides along in 
his magnificent superiority with hardly a 
thought of her, he is showing a weakness 
of character that needs pretty prompt atten- 
tion. It isn't enough that he should be 
polite and kind to some other fellow's sister ; 
he needs to show no less degree of politeness 
and of kindness toward his own sister. 

A good many boys do not realize at all 
how much help a girl needs from her brother. 
Oh, no, she won't say that she does. But 
put yourself in her place. Until she gets 
well on in her teens, and often even then, she 

107 



io8 BOY-TALKS 

likes about the same outdoor games that a 
boy likes. She can play tennis well ; she plays 
a pretty fair game of basket ball ; she can row 
and swim, and take hikes, and go camping 
and fishing ; she can ride a horse, or a bicycle, 
and she can keep a boy on tiptoe in any kind 
of nature study in field or forest. No, 
Thomas, you are not usually as quick- 
minded as the girls for whom you may 
have a wholly unwarranted contempt! In 
one college where boys and girls study and 
recite together, fellows much older than you 
say that it isn't such a bad thing for them to 
have to compete with the brighter minds of 
the girl students. You have got to get up 
very early in the morning to get ahead of a 
bright girl In study, or in a game that takes 
brains. The kind of help your sister needs 
may be encouragement to make a start in 
some of these things in which you have had 
experience. She may get ahead of you be- 
fore you know it, but what she needs from 
you at first Is a little leadership, and then 
good, hearty companionship in the best 
things. The more you treat her as you 
would treat a chum, the better she likes it, 
and the more she will be helped by you^ 



THAT SISTER OF YOURS 109 

But if she isn't able to get out and do 
much, and has no use for the things that 
interest you? Well, that's a great chance 
for you to show what at least one brother 
can do to prove that the fine brotherly spirit 
isn't dead in your neighborhood. Talk with 
her about her interests. Tell her what you 
have seen and heard that would give her 
glimpses of the life outside her usual sur- 
roundings. Bring back books from the 
library that you believe she would like. Her 
spirit may be too gentle and fine for you to 
understand wholly, but make a try for it, 
and before you know it she will be teaching 
you a few lessons that will do no harm, just 
by the way she lives. Get to know that 
sister of yours. 

Come, fellows, let us drop the cheap "only- 
my-sister" talk, and begin at home the chiv- 
alry by which we would gladly be known in 
other homes. 



KILLING TIME 

TIME disappeared yesterday and went 
away beyond recall. Time is coming 
like the wind toward us now, as we look for- 
ward to to-morrow. Time is here to-day, at 
this moment, and is one of our most precious 
possessions; yet we talk about plans for 
killing it! 

There is always something wrong about 
a boy who tries to see how he can kill time. 
If he succeeds, it is only to his own hurt, be- 
cause he cannot kill time without killing other 
things as well; his shot will always take in 
something else on the way. For instance, 
you cannot kill time without at the same 
time destroying an opportunity. Time 
could have been used just then for some- 
thing worth while, and opportunity died with 
time. There is one very busy man who 
makes a great many addresses to boys, and 
to grown folks, too. He travels up and down 
the face of the earth, and is known in many 
parts of the world. He writes books and 
articles for papers and a great many letters 
no 



KILLING TIME iii 

to his friends. His principal public work 
is speaking, but he has written so many books 
and so many articles, and keeps all this up 
so steadily, that people sometimes wonder 
how he ever can do so much. He answers 
that he writes many of his articles between 
meetings. By that he means that after a 
meeting is over, instead of wasting time over 
what he has said, instead of killing time until 
the next meeting comes along later in the 
day, he goes to his room and writes an arti- 
cle or two, allows time to brush up on his 
preparation for his next meeting, and then 
he is ready to speak. He never has time to 
think about killing time, because he knows 
so well how to use it. 

No boy is living at his best if he has to sit 
and wonder very long how he is going to 
put in the time between one school day and 
the next, or one meal and the next. It is 
said that a man was once asked if he liked 
work. He insisted that he did, but said that 
he never liked to work between meals. If 
that poor chap ever had any boys, it is pretty 
hard to see how they would come out. 

One of our busiest men says that he has 
blocked out his time so carefully that, un- 



112 BOY-TALKS 

less illness or something of the kind should 
break in on his program, he can tell almost 
to the hour what he will be doing six months 
hence. In that way, he goes through an 
immense amount of work without strain. 
Each day has its duties and its recreations. 
If you should meet this man, you would find 
him one of the most delightful men you ever 
met. He always seems to have plenty of 
time for you, and seems not to be in a hurry ; 
he has written several shelves of books, and 
to-day writes about ten thousand words a 
week, besides a lot of other work, and he 
very seldom works at night. He never tries 
to kill time, because he uses time to such good 
advantage day in and day out. 

Fellows, there is so much to be done in 
this old world that it is pretty poor business 
for any of us to hang around, and go about 
our work or our play half asleep and won- 
dering how to kill time. There Is something 
else we ought to kill instead, and that is our 
short-sighted sense of what time is for, and 
our indifference to the use to which we put 
our time. We haven't any of it to waste. 
For us time may be short or long — we never 
know. But let's be thankful that it is here 



KILLING TIME 113 

now, and that we have a Httle section of it to 
work up into the best results that can be 
gained by a live boy in a live way ! 



USING OUR MISTAKES 

HE WAS a tennis player who was very 
much in earnest, a boy who wanted to 
be at his best, and didn't intend to play a 
poor game if he could help it. He asked an 
older man who understood the game thor- 
oughly to watch him while he played, and to 
criticize his methods. 

After the game was over, the boy came to 
the side of the court for his friend's judg- 
ment.; 

*'Do you really want to know what I 
think of your game ?" asked the friend. 

"Indeed I do," said the boy. "Tell me 
exactly what you think, and tell me why it is 
that I do not win more games." 

"Well," said his friend, "if you really 
want to know, I'll tell you. I think your 
mistakes trouble you far too much. Every 
time you send a ball into the net, or put one 
outside the lines, you examine your racket, 
shake your head, and seem very much con- 
cerned about it. Now, that kind of thing 
hinders your playing. You should play 
114 



USING OUR MISTAKES 115 

straight ahead, learning what you can from 
your mistakes, yet not grieving over them, 
or making any fuss about them. If you 
keep thinking about your mistakes you can't 
give your attention to winning." 

Another boy, who had the feehng that he 
was not good at anything, gave up wood- 
working in his school course, thinking that 
he had no special gift In that direction. One 
day, shortly after the opening of the school, 
he met the manual-training teacher, who 
said to him, greatly to the boy's surprise : 
"I am sorry to hear that you are not going 
to take wood-working this year. You were 
so good at it^ I had hoped that you would 
go on." 

*'Why," said the boy, "I had no Idea I was 
good at It^ I thought I did pretty poor 
work." 

*'Yes, and that Is just your trouble 1" ex- 
claimed his teacher. "It Is only once in a 
great while that I find a boy who does as 
good work as you do. But when you make 
the least mistake, you are so troubled over 
it that you get into the habit of thinking you 
can't do good work at all. I hope you will 
go on with the course." 



ii6 BOY-TALKS 

That was a tremendously encouraging 
surprise to the boy who had thought his 
work was so poor, and he at once planned 
to take the course. If he had allowed his 
mistakes to be the deciding factor, and if 
his teacher had failed to point out the good 
side of his work, he might have missed a 
fine bit of mind and hand training. 

While we should not let our mistakes lead 
us to give up in hopelessness, neither should 
we think of them so lightly that we shall be- 
come indifferent and careless. The best thing 
we can do with a mistake is to use it as a 
stone in the building of character. Mistakes 
make wonderfully fine material for this, if 
they are used as instructors and not as dis- 
couragers. 

One of the most accurate and painstaking 
men that the writer ever knew said this : "Let 
no one of us congratulate himself on being 
free from blundering ; for every one of us is 
a blunderer. Let no one of us be overde- 
spondent when he finds that he has blun- 
dered ; for no one of us is alone in his blun- 
dering. Let no one of us think lightly of 
his blundering, or fail to watch against his 
liability to blunder," 



USING OUR MISTAKES 117 

The next time youVe tempted to drag into 
all your work, or into any recreation, the 
mistake that you have made, just let it be a 
point in a lesson learned, and cheerily go on 
to the next thing. If God should remember 
all our mistakes against us, and remind us 
of them every little while, what an awful 
climb through the dark this life would be. 



"GETTING BY" 

SOME words or phrases sneak into the 
good company of other words, just as 
some boys who are crooked will once in a 
while get in where they can work their par- 
ticular sort of evil. They "get by." 

Every little while that phrase sneaks into 
some one's speech. A public speaker's ad- 
dress was mentioned as one that "got by." 
It was liked, and seemed to do its proper 
work — that was all. It was passable, and 
nothing more. A boy says of a test or ex- 
amination, "I got by." 

The trouble is that a good many boys get 
into the way of using this phrase, with 
scarcely a thought of what it means, while 
the idea back of it gets by into their way of 
thinking, with poisonous results. 

For getting by hints at poor work which 
just barely passes, sneaking stuff that escapes 
detection, smartness that fools some one, a 
twist and a turn and a dodge that succeeds, 
just as the boy who hasn't a ticket for the 
game somehow gets by the man at the gate. 
Ii8 



"GETTING BY" 119 

The phrase isn't just slang. There is 
some slang that has a lot of good sense in it, 
though the danger is that youngsters will use 
so much of it that an all-round vocabulary 
is lost through disuse of other words. But 
this phrase isn't even good slang, because it 
carries along with it an idea that is cheap 
and mean. 

Such slang, too, has a very foxy way of 
burrowing in the mind until its idea is at 
home there. It doesn't merely cripple the 
tongue, but it digs holes in the mind. A fel- 
low gets into the way of thinking the words 
which at first he says carelessly, and his 
thoughts finally change his ideals. Getting 
by gives us a wrong view of life. 

You know how it is in school. Just pass- 
ing is poor business. If you study just to 
get passing marks, you are pretty nearly 
wasting your time. Your aim should be 
higher than merely getting by. 

If you are working in an office, and are 
particular never to be early in starting your 
day, and never to be late in closing it, par- 
ticular never to make record time on any 
errand, and to have the pencils only decently 
sharp, but not very — why, you may get by 



120 BOY-TALKS 

with the chief, but you may be sure that some 
day another fellow will get by you in another 
sense of the word. 

The world badly needs boys and men who 
are eager to do more than just barely 
enough. Margins on books and on a boy's 
work are what make the pages stand out 
clearly. Andrew Carnegie said to a gradu- 
ating class of boys: "There are those who 
do not do all their duty, there are those who 
profess to do their duty, and there is a third 
class far better than the other two, who do 
their duty, and a little more. You young 
lads have begun well. Keep on. Don't 
bother about the future. Do your duty, and 
a little more, and the future will take care 
of itself." 

Getting by? Boys, let's put decent slang 
against poor slang, and "cut it out !" 



BUILT LIKE A WATCH 

YOU can overhaul your bicycle with a 
screw driver, an oil can, and a good 
monkey wrench ; but you never dare to tackle 
any watch trouble in that way. The man of 
experience, with a magnifying glass at his 
eye, is none too expert to put a watch into 
running order. The machinery is too fine 
for coarse tools or unskilled hands. 

There was once a boy named Edward 
Howard, who had a great liking for working 
with the most delicate mechanism. While 
he was still a boy he made some clocks that 
are in good running order to-day, although 
he lived nearly a hundred years ago. As he 
grew older, he became very expert in the 
invention of watchmaking machinery. This 
was a new idea in America then, for at that 
time watchmaking was all done by hand. 
Handwork meant considerable variation in 
the different parts, whereas by machinery 
Howard expected to make all parts uniform. 
In telling of his experiences he wrote : 

"In the exquisitely fine wheels and screws 

121 



122 BOY-TALKS 

and pinions that make up the parts of a 
watch, the less variation, the better. Un- 
derstand that some of these parts are so fine 
as to be almost invisible to the naked eye. 
A variation of one five-thousandth of an inch 
would throw the watch out altogether, or 
make it useless as a timepiece." 

Some of Edward Howard's friends 
laughed at him for thinking that he could 
make better watches than were then in use. 
Others thought he was foolish to be as par- 
ticular as he was about the w^ork that he 
turned out. But he never changed his ideals 
on that account. He said, '1 would rather 
break up a watch movement than have it go 
out imperfect. My standard for every Avatch 
that bore my name was that it be fit to 
present to the President of the United 
States." 

"Built like a watch" is a great thing to be 
able to say of any work you turn out. But 
back of the work is the boy himself. He 
must have in his own soul the qualities that 
he expects to put into any delicately adjusted 
and useful product. A loose-minded, care- 
less, don't-care fellow will not be able to 
make anything reliable. His hand will be 



BUILT LIKE A WATCH 123 

inaccurate, his judgment poor, his ideas too 
ordinary to raise his work above the dead 
level of other ordinary work around him. 
A good many fellows are trying to produce 
fine work from impossible habits of mind and 
body, and are making a failure of it. You 
must be ''built like a watch" in your think- 
ing machinery, if you are going to build 
w^atches. You must have character before 
your work can have it. You never can do 
any work without revealing in that work 
what you are, and the only way to produce 
anything that will stand the test is to be the 
kind of fellow who can stand the test. 

To be built like a watch means that you 
have the ability to go right on keeping faith 
with your job, under all sorts of difficulties. 
Before a fine watch is sold it is tested in 
various positions, and in a very hot oven, as 
well as in a refrigerator. If it varies from 
day to day, it must be gone over, and cor- 
rected, and then tested all over again. Un- 
less we can do our work under all sorts of 
difficulties, just going steadily on, we, too, 
need adjustment. We, too, need to get back 
into the steady, reliable way of running. 

Isn't it great to think that we are in the 



124 BOY-TALKS 

hands of a Maker who can do more wonder- 
ful things with us, and for us, than Edward 
Howard or any other watchmaker ever did 
for a fine watch? 



A BOY OF THE FIRST CLASS 

ONE bright clear summer morning, a 
man was sitting out in the open air with 
his paper in hand. Glancing through the 
columns of war news, his eyes rested upon 
Vice Admiral Jelhcoe's report o£ the big sea 
fight off the coast of Denmark. It was a 
remarkable story from the very beginning. 
As he read on, suddenly the man's eyes were 
arrested by this paragraph : 

"The fortitude of the wounded was admir- 
able. A boy of the first class, John Travers 
Cornwall, of the 'Chester,' was mortally 
wounded early in the action. Nevertheless, 
he remained standing alone at a most exposed 
post, quietly awaiting orders until the end of 
the action, with the gun's crew dead or 
wounded all around him. His age was less 
than sixteen and a half years. I regret that 
he has since died. I recommend his case for 
special recognition, in justice to his memory, 
and as an acknowledgment of the high ex- 
ample set by him." 

What a picture that was ! A boy not much 

125 



126 



BOY-TALKS 



older than some of you, in the thick of that 
awful fight to the west of Jutland Bank, 
standing there after his comrades had been 
killed all about him, unmoved and unmoving, 
in the thick of the fire, obeying his orders to 
the very end. Where the man sat reading 
that account, he could hear the song of 
birds, and could feel upon his face the sweet 
air of a drowsy July morning. Within the 
house, his own boys were just getting ready 
for the day, a quiet day of happiness, of 
peace, and of boyish sport. What a con- 
trast to the story of that wild afternoon and 
night when, on the open sea, the vessels of 
the tw^o great fleets poured out their thunder- 
ous fires across the intervening spaces, while 
that plucky boy stood, mortally wounded, to 
the very end of his round of duty ! 

How would those boys just waking to a 
quiet day in the country have stood out in 
such circumstances ? What would you have 
done, you bright young fellow just break- 
ing into your teens? Would you, mortally 
wounded, have stood squarely by your post 
Liirough the thick of the hottest fire? 

You would have had the courage to do so, 
and so would those boys in the country 



OF THE FIRST CLASS 127 

home, just in so far as you each had become 
a boy "of the first class." Of course, the 
phrase "first class," as Vice Admiral Jellicoe 
used it, applied to a certain rank in the plan 
of the British Navy. But how well that same 
phrase applies to the boy himself, apart from 
any rank he may have held! The vice ad- 
miral himself could not have stood above 
him in character, or in the doing of his duty. 
He was indeed a boy of the first class. Are 
you of the first class in spirit and action, and 
in character throughout? 

Some of you may think that if you could 
have been in that fight you would have shown 
the same spirit that young Cornwall showed. 
Of course you would. Some of the folks 
who know you best would feel perfectly sure 
of it, too. Yet, don't you know that it is 
sometimes harder to show that same spirit 
in the humdrum, everyday things, than it 
would be when shot and shell were flying 
about you, and the thunder of big guns was 
in your ears? Do you realize that it 
sometimes takes more real courage to do your 
everyday duty than it would take to be a sol- 
dier? Why, some of the great heroes of 
these big days of ours are fellows_who never 



128 BOY-TALKS 

come into any great, exciting crisis like that ! 
It is a heroic thing, and it puts a fellow into 
the first class, if, day by day, he will do the 
hard, ordinary, unheard-of, and unmentioned 
thing that very few other people will ever 
know he has done* 



"HE'S A FRIEND OF MINE'' 

A LAWYER was in an elevator with 
some men he did not know, when a big 
fellow among them began swearing. He 
used the name of God wickedly and loosely, 
and seemed to think nothing of it. 

The lawyer touched his arm, and said 
quietly, "I wouldn't do that if I were you." 
Instantly the man stopped, looked troubled, 
and then exclaimed, ''You're right, you're 
right! I shouldn't do that. I just don't 
think what I am saying." And then the two 
had a pleasant talk together. 

That same lawyer has made it his habit for 
years to speak to swearing men when he 
can. If a man is using the name of Jesus 
or God roughly, he says to the man, "Please 
don't do that ; you're speaking of a friend of 
mine." And he has never met with any one 
who did not listen to him as a gentleman 
should. It is one way he has of testifying 
to his love for his Lord and Saviour. 

That kind of work can be done by man of 
boy. Some young college boys were having 

129 



I30 BOY-TALKS 

a class supper. One of the fellows started a 
coarse song to the tune of a hymn. Others 
joined in. Then one boy who wasn't known 
to be specially religious jumped up and called 
out, "None of that, fellows ! No sacrilege 
here! We can have a good time, but none 
of that !" He sat down ; the song faded away 
and stopped, and then without a word some- 
thing else was taken up. There was no 
offense., It was just the clean, manly thing 
to do, and the crowd knew it. 

It isn't sissy or goody-goody to take a 
stand in such things. It is what every decent 
boy is moved to do, though a good many are 
prevented by cowardice. There is no reason 
for being afraid. The thing that will hurt 
most is to keep still when you should speak ; 
to fail to protest when you know that a 
wrong thing is going on, in which you, by 
your silence, seem to share. Sometimes you 
can show where you stand by a word, some- 
times by leaving the room, or the crowd, 
sometimes by a quiet talk with the leaders in 
such doings. But to let the rest suppose 
that you like uncleanness by laughing at it, 
or that you don't object to profanity, by 
peacefully letting the name of your best 



"HE'S A FRIEND OF MINE" 131 

Friend be treated with contempt, are forms 
of cowardice that do a great deal to break 
down your own moral character. 

Profanity is nearly always unthinking. It 
becomes a habit. The swearer half the time 
has no idea that he is using such language, 
and when you remind him of it, he looks 
surprised. 

Sometimes the surprise comes in a way 
that completely changes a man's habit. There 
was a man who was known as the most pro- 
fane man in the big freight yards where he 
worked. He was a conductor, and his con- 
ducting was done to the crack of oaths, just 
as some drivers are always cracking a whip 
over their team. One night he attended an 
evangelistic meeting out in the country. The 
preacher, under the power of God's Spirit, 
got hold of that foul-mouthed man, and he 
became a new man. One of the first signs 
of this newness was this — he simply forgot 
all about swearing. His men were amazed 
when he went about among them as a Chris- 
tian gentleman. He told the writer of these 
words that he doesn't even think of swear 
words now. They have just dropped away 
from him like the worn-out rags of an old 



132 BOY-TALKS 

garment that has been replaced by a new suit. 
And what he practises he preaches — a gos- 
pel of clean speech — so that his train crews 
know just where he stands. 



WHEN FATHER DOESN'T 
UNDERSTAND 

SOME of us get a good deal of rather 
painful enjoyment out of thinking we 
are misunderstood. When Jim kicked the 
paint off the door, slammed that door behind 
him, and dashed out into the yard after he 
had been overhauled by father, he soothed his 
ruffled feelings by the thought that father 
never did rmderstand him, anyhow. It 
always had been so, these long ten or twelve 
years, since Jim had come under such unin- 
telligent care, and of course it would always 
be so. This thought gave Jim the feeling of 
a martyr. 

Perhaps there were some things about Jim 
that his father did not quite understand. The 
father was always doing kindly things for 
the boy, and yet right after some kindness 
Jim would break out with hot, impatient 
words, or neglect his work badly, or refuse to 
sacrifice something for the family interest. 
Then his father would show signs of "not 
understanding" Jim, and presently doors 
would slam, 

133 



134 BOY-TALKS 

One trouble with Jim was that he seldorfi 
tried to find out honestly and squarely where 
he had been in the wrong. He never had 
the least trouble, however, in seeing wherein 
his father was all wrong. That way of 
thinking cost Jim a great deal, because while 
discovering points at which his father ought 
to improve, he was all the time missing the 
points at which he himself might Improve. 
There are several other fellows like Jim still 
living in this country. 

One of the things that is hardest for a 
father to understand in his boy is just why 
his boy doesn't try to understand himself. 
The boy who has the habit of thinking his 
father doesn't understand him needs to go off 
into a quiet place by himself, and prayerfully 
ask God to show him how he may discover 
in his own life everything that is now hin- 
dering him from entering into sympathy with 
a good father's ideals for him. A boy has 
a wonderful lot to learn from a father who 
is striving to lead him into the right way of 
living. A fellow might just as well com- 
plain that his coach doesn't understand him, 
because the coach is always pointing out 
places at which he can improve his running, 



DOESN'T UNDERSTAND 133 

or jumping, or baseball playing; or that his 
teacher doesn't understand him, because the 
teacher is good enough to call his attention 
to ways in which he can improve. 

There are some fathers who do indeed 
grow away from their boyhood, so that it is 
harder for them than for some men to realize 
what a boy has to put up with. Yet just 
here the boy himself can be a great help to 
his father, if he will talk to him freely about 
his school and other interests, and not be too 
easily turned aside from this if his father 
looks tired or not very much interested. The 
fact is, almost every father hates to give up 
his boyhood, and wants to keep in touch with 
what his boys are doing. Often he doesn't 
have much opportunity to do this, partly 
because he is overworked, and partly because 
his own boys just fail to get alongside of him 
and let him know their hopes and fears., 

A boy, you see, can do a great deal to 
bridge the gap which sometimes exists be- 
tween his father and himself. That is, he 
can do it if he will be more concerned about 
understanding his father than he is about 
having his father understand him. 

Let xxs confess frankly that one of a boy'§ 



136 BOY-TALKS 

great troubles in dealing with his father is 
the fact that his father often understands 
him far too well, and out of his love for him 
doesn't hesitate to say so. The fellow who 
has the least idea of how valuable a good 
father's counsel is, will not get angry, but 
will quietly thank the older man for his ad- 
vice, and will then see how well he can apply 
it to his own doings.^ 



SMILE! 

IT WAS a hotly contested tennis tourna- 
ment, and the players on both sides were 
putting up a hard fight. The losing players 
were beginning to feel the strain. 

On that losing side, one of the players in 
the "doubles" wore a very gloomy look. 
Now gloomy looks are not just surface mat- 
ters; there must be something even darker 
going on within. The partner on the losing 
side saw the cloud, and when the play had 
stopped for a moment, went quietly over to 
the player who seemed so discouraged, and 
said earnestly, "Smile ! Don't look like that 
any more ; brace up ! Keep smiling, no mat- 
ter what happens." And then with a laugh 
went back to her position on the court. 

Her position! Yes, this wasn't a game 
in which the boys were playing at all ; it was 
a girls' doubles. Now does that just take the 
edge off for you? It needn't, because it is 
perfectly fair to suggest that, if a girl can 
show the spirit of encouragement and deter- 
mination at such a time, there is a mighty fine 

137 



138 BOY-TALKS 

point just there for a boy like yourself. If a 
girl can smile when she is being beaten in an 
exciting match, and keep on smiling straight 
through it, where do you come in with your 
"grouch," when you see another fellow get- 
ting the better of you? 

These girls, w^ho were putting up a losing 
fight, lost in the end, and yet that cheery, 
energetic and fine-spirited player who had 
told her partner to smile, kept right on smil- 
ing through it all. She had the sort of nerve 
that counts, wherever you find it.. 

While over in England, an American boy 
was asked to play in a football game. He 
joined in with a lot of others in the kind of 
football they play over there, and his side 
was beaten to a frazzle. The frazzle, how- 
ever, didn't seem to work very much damage 
to the spirits of the Englishmen. The Ameri- 
can boy, who had been accustomed to play 
football with the idea that the other side must 
be beaten at any cost, didn't quite get the 
spirit of school football on the other side of 
the water, for he was a good deal surprised 
when, after the game was over, one young 
Englishman said to him heartily, "Great 
game, wasn't it?" He was on the losing 



SMILE! 139 



side, and the American boy could hardly 
understand what he meant when he said 
that it was a great game. The English 
schoolboys do not expect to be beaten, if they 
can possibly help it; but if they are playing 
against a better team, and lose, they don't 
thereby lose their enjoyment of the game.; 

The trouble with gloomy looks is not just 
in the effect that they have upon people 
around us, but in what they tell about the 
spirit within. No fellow can ever do his 
best work when he is discouraged and down- 
cast. No fellow can put the snap into his 
study, or his athletics, or his work, that he 
ought to put, if his mind is turned in upon 
himself and his failures. Our task calls for 
all there is of us, and if we take away half 
our strength and spirit by getting gloomy 
over any situation, there isn't much of us to 
put into the work or the play. 

No boy is too young to make up his mind 
that, no matter what comes his Avay, he will 
take it cheerily, especially if he finds himself 
the loser. The fact is that a loser is a win- 
ner when he can just keep on smiling. Can 
you? 



GROWING OR SWELLING 

WHAT is the greeting that meets so 
many boys whenever a friend of the 
family comes into sight ? You know how it 
sounds when you are brought to the front, 
and a friend of the family cries out : *'Why, 
how he has grown! Just look at him!'* It 
almost always makes you want to get behind 
a tree, or climb over the fence. Indeed, you 
have heard yourself exclaimed over so often 
that you know exactly what the next person 
is going to say, if he hasn't seen you for a 
month or two. 

It may be a little embarrassing to some fel- 
lows to have that remark made about them so 
often. A few years later, however, when man- 
hood has been reached, and some one says 
to a friend, "Well, now, take Tom Jones, 
he's a man who has grown in the last year,*' 
Tom Jones, if he hears about it, feels grate- 
ful for the compliment. A man is not likely 
to grow much taller physically after he gets 
into the thirties, but he wants to grow as 
much as he can in the biggest things that a 
140 



GROWING OR SWELLING 141 

man can do. When some one says of him 
that he has grown, he is encouraged by the 
words. 

There is another sort of enlarging, how- 
ever, that isn't exactly growth. Some boys 
get this other sort, even while they are get- 
ting the good kind of growth. They swell; 
they get puffed up. Mere enlarging isn't 
growth. There is a fish that we boys used 
to catch at the seashore that would puff up 
like a balloon when you hauled him into the 
boat. That isn't growth ; that's just swelling. 

Did you read one of President Wilson's 
talks to the Press Club in Washington, 
that group of newspaper men who always 
are trying to make him talk, and to 
whom he sometimes talks pretty freely? 
This is one of the things he said to 
them: "A friend of mine says that every 
man who takes office in Washington 
either grows or swells; and when I give a 
man an office, I watch him carefully to see 
whether he is swelling or growing. The 
mischief of it is that when they swell, they do 
not swell enough to burst. The men who 
grow, the men who think better a year after 
they are put in office than they thought when 



142 BOY-TALKS 

they were put in office, are the balance wheels 
of the whole thing." 

Just as President Wilson watches the men 
whom he appoints to office, so others are 
watching you. They know whether you are 
just getting puffed up, or whether you are 
actually growing. Sometimes a fellow comes 
to think so much of himself, gets so puffed 
up, that he looks actually smaller to his 
friends than he did before, although to him- 
self his reflection in the mirror looks very 
much larger. Real growth begins down deep 
in a fellow's life, and moves sometimes very 
slowly out through his whole being until, 
when teachers and parents and others who 
are interested in him, look at him, they just 
quietly nod their heads and say, "Well, he's 
coming on all right." They know the signs ; 
they know the difference between swelling 
and growing. They know when a fellow 
is thinking clean thoughts, when he is work- 
ing hard and honestly, when he is playing a 
square game in all that he does, and is head- 
ing toward work that is worth while. 

Do you know the difference? Are you 
swelling a little in your own opinion, or are 
you actually growing ? 



EXEMPT ! 

THERE was a fine light in the boy's eyes 
when he came home that day. He was 
so filled with news that he fairly exploded, 

* 'Exempt! I'm exempt in everything! 
Yes, sir, that's right. I don't have to take 
a single examination, and I have a week's 
straight vacation. My, I'm glad! Of 
course I had to work as hard as I could, but 
it was worth it," 

It took him a good while that day to get 
used to the idea, because it had been a long, 
hard pull, through thick and thin, and now he 
had proved to his teachers that his work was 
so thoroughly done, it did not need the test 
of the usual examination. He was exempt. 

Only by very steady, high-grade work 
could any one bring such an event to pass in 
that school. It couldn't be done by a sudden 
spurt, by a dash in the last week. Only high 
marks day by day could bring exemption. 

And haven't you noticed how true this is 
in other things beside school? A fellow 
who is known to be a high-grade player, 

143 



144 BOY-TALKS 

doesn't usually have to try for the team ; the 
team tries for him. The fellow who is 
squarely honest day by day, both in word 
and act, doesn't need to be watched by a 
detective when you put your pocketbook in 
his care. He is exempt from any desire 
on your part to test him or to watch him. 
You know him by his daily record, his char- 
acter. 

There is a story of General Grant, Secre- 
tary Stanton, and President Lincoln that sets 
one thinking when he reads it. On a certain 
military measure, Stanton and Grant did not 
agree. Stanton wished to submit the matter 
to the President, and Grant was willing. 
When they met, Stanton stated the case as 
he saw it, and as Grant saw it, strongly urg- 
ing his own idea. Lincoln turned to Grant, 
and asked if he had anything to say. 

''Nothing, Mr, President," said Grant 
quietly. 

Lincoln turned to Stanton and said that he 
thought it would be best to follow General 
Grant's plan, and the incident was closed. 
In deciding the question before him, the Pres- 
ident simply knew his man. Grant had been 
tested enough. 



EXEMPT ! 145 



But here's another story which is nearer 
home, perhaps. A boy was hunting for a job. 
He was a fellow who would impress one as 
being able to work, as well as willing to 
work. As he stood before a business man, 
who was asking him a few questions, the man 
said, 

*'Let me see your hands; not the back, 
but the inside." 

One look, and the man shook his head re- 
gretfully. "I'm sorry," he said, "but I can't 
use you. The yellow stain is there. I won't 
employ a cigarette smoker." 

That closed the Interview. He knew the 
boy by the stain, and the boy was exempt, 
exempt from getting a good job in that es- 
tablishment. The daily habit of mind and^ 
body had placed him outside that man's busi-' 
ness plan. Smoking was a costly habit, after 
all, and not as much fun as it might seem. 

Then there are two kinds of exemption? 
Oh, yes ! One kind keeps others from doubt- 
ing our ability to make good : the other kind 
prevents folks from thinking that we are 
likely to make good while we continue to do 
harmful, foolish things. 

High-grade, everyday work leaves its 



146 BOY-TALKS 



mark on any fellow, and so does low-grade 
work. And the work Is a guide to others 
in deciding whether to shut us out from their 
confidence, or to trust us in further work. 
Which kind of exemption is your kind ? 



THE "RETURN HORSE'* 

OUT in the Colorado mining districts 
they know what ''return horses" are, 
and in some places it would be pretty hard 
to get along without them. Enos A. Mills, 
in his book ''Wild Life on the Rockies," tells 
a most interesting story about Midget, one 
of these return horses. You should read that 
story for yourself. In some of the mining 
towns, the livery-stable man has horses that 
will come alone, from long distances, straight 
back to the barn after you are through riding 
them. These horses are most carefully 
trained to find their way straight back to 
their stable again, and not to take too much 
time in getting home. 

Most of the mines are on the mountain 
slopes above the town, and when a man wants 
to go up to the mine he will often ride a 
return horse. 

On the way back, the horse must avoid 
being caught by any one else, and inasmuch 
as he may have to make his return trip in all 
sorts of weather, he has to be pretty cleverj 

M7 



148 BOY-TALKS 

and brainy, and strong. Mr. Mills says that 
sometimes "a great liking for grass tempts 
them into a ditch, where they may eat grass, 
even though the reins are up/' and that 
"when a number of these horses are together, 
they will occasionally stay too long on the 
way." That sounds natural and familiar, 
doesn't it? 

Any boy, aged an}^vhere from six to sixty, 
would do well to think often about the return 
horse. Mr. Mills says that he never passes 
one of these horses on the trail without turn- 
ing to watch the horse as long as he can pos- 
sibly keep him in sight, for he likes to see 
how quick and clever the animal is in getting 
down the mountain side, and in keeping on 
about his business. 

Some of us do not show as much horse 
sense about this as do the fine little horses of 
the Colorado mining districts. We are sent 
off on duties of one sort or another, and, 
while we may go pretty well on the out trip, 
yet no one can quite be sure when we shall 
get back, because of the side issues that come 
up on the return. In boy life there are a 
good many substitutes for the grass that 
tempts the return horse, There are a good 



THE "RETURN HORSE" 149 

many ways for a boy to get tangled up in 
one thing or another on his way back to the 
starting point, just as there are ways by 
which the return horse in the mountains 
sometimes gets trapped in the snow, or 
caught by his bridle on a snag. 

It is a good thing to learn to be trust- 
worthy when we are not driven or watciied, 
but are just turned loose to go on the way 
that others expect us to go. It isn't just 
a matter of doing small errands faithfully, 
though that is a good deal more important 
than it may seem to be; trustworthiness is 
important for every fellow who takes up any 
work that must be carried through to com- 
pletion at a given time and place. We should 
learn to keep free from entanglements along 
the way, and from those who would lead us 
off the track. 

Can you be trusted when no one is around 
to watch you? Can you make your way 
through all sorts of things that try to draw 
a boy out of the right path, and come safely 
through to the end of the journey, without 
delay and without wandering? Some time 
when you are alone, and are tempted to do 
something that would surely mark you as 



150 BOY-TALKS 

untrustworthy, or when you are given a task 
that is definite and clear and that has one 
plain end in view, and you are tempted to 
turn aside from it, just think of those won- 
derful mountains of Colorado, and the 
equally wonderful, intelligent, and trusted 
animals. 

Would you make a good return horse? 



THE MOVIES OR THE MOUNTAINS? 

IT WAS only half-past three in the morn- 
ing when there was a knock at Fred's door., 
In a moment he was up, hurrying to the 
window. 

He knew what the knock meant. Sunrise 
was almost due, and, while usually Fred 
wouldn't leap out of bed to see a sunrise, he 
didn't lose a minute this time. For he was 
more than six thousand feet above the sea 
level that morning, after a night spent on 
Mount Washington, and a fellow who would 
sleep through a Mount Washington sunrise 
would sleep through anything, to his own 
great disappointment. 

Fred looked out the window of his room 
in the Summit House upon a huge, dark, 
tumbled sea of mountains, which the light 
of dawn was just beginning to turn gray. 
Above him, the silver moon floated in the half 
light, and the morning star shone brilliantly 
in the far deeps of the sky.; 

Then as he watched, the light of the rising 
sun began to weave a scarf of crimson from 

151 



152 BOY-TALKS 

the east clear around the vast horizon, and 
over the verge of the distant ranges the sun 
"came furrowing all the orient into gold/' 

Fred gazed upon the wonderful scene with 
speechless awe. He never had seen so much 
of the world, — at least the early-morning 
world, — nor that marvel of marvels, the red 
sun, the silver moon, and the gleaming morn- 
ing star, all shining together upon the brown 
crags of the summits emerging from the 
night. He sat by the window for two hours, 
until the broad day flooded the sea of moun- 
tains.. It w^as hard for the boy to leave that 
scene and descend into the valley. 

On the evening of that day, he went to see 
some moving pictures in a hall in the moun- 
tain village where he was a visitor. He was 
a vigorous, live chap, just on the edge of his 
teens, and the restlessness of a boy in a new 
place was upon him. 

When he returned, his aunt, who had been 
with him on the mountain, said to him, 
"Well, Frederick, how did you enjoy the 
entertainment?" 

The boy looked up at her quickly. "Oh, 
it wasn't very much of an entertainment,'* 
he said, and then he added emphatically, 



MOVIES OR MOUNTAINS ? 153 

*l'm glad I have Mount' Washington to 
think of!" 

So would you have been glad. So would 
the contrast between the morning star above 
the mountain top and the movie star in the 
close little hall have impressed you. Oh,' 
fellows, some of the really big things in and 
around this wonderful world of ours make 
many lesser things seem pretty cheap! Go 
out into the autumn woods, and scatter 
around you a shower of color in every hand- 
ful of the leaves you toss into the air. Let 
the keen winds of an autumn morning blow 
your thought out like a rippling flag until 
your brain is quick and vivid with the mere 
joy of living. Get out among the big things 
of earth. If you are in the city, go where 
you can see the cloud galleons driving across 
the blue upper sea on their mysterious voy- 
ages across the world. 

A boy who has seen the sunrise from 
Mount Washington, who has heard the her- 
mit thrush in the quiet wood, who has heard 
the whitethroat sing by a mountain lake, who 
has the clouds and the stars and the sunrise 
for friends, is going to measure a good many 
other experiences by these fine and unforget- 



154 BOY-TALKS 

able memories. You may never see Mount 
.Washington, but no matter where you Hve, 
you know where to look for the marvels that 
God has spread before you. Will you see 
them, and so come to want the really fine, 
instead of the cheap and the tawdry things 
of life? 



KEEPING THE BODY AT ITS BEST 

THAT body of yours is a very wonderful 
machine. It is so much more than a 
machine that you cannot compare it with a 
fabric of steel or iron; it has that wonderful 
quality of life, but, just the same, it is a 
machine that needs tending. 

A good many boys are carried away by a 
craze for competitive athletics, not so much 
for the developing of that wonderful ma- 
chine, the body, but in order to beat some 
one else. The consequence is that in schools 
and colleges a good many fellows who find 
that they are not likely to be leading athletes, 
become lazy and soft, and lose the whole 
point of the best side of athletics. I am 
not objecting to competing in athletic events ; 
I am only saying that to beat some one else 
is by no means the best end of athletic work; 
indeed, it may lead simply to overdevelop- 
ment in one direction, and sometimes to 
overstrain which will tell on the boy when he 
has become a man, in heart weakness and in 
other defects. 

155 



156 BOY-TALKS 

What I want to press home is the thought 
that every fellow ought to make sure, by 
some kind of training, that his body is able to 
do in every fiber and muscle and nerve the 
things that make for strength and purity and 
endurance in every walk of life. 

It isn't always the fellow who can show 
under his coat sleeve a lump of muscle as big 
as an orange who is the strong man; that 
sometimes means overdevelopment. The boy 
who can throw straight, and see straight; 
who can run as far as he needs to without 
getting winded; who can walk his twenty- 
five miles a day and be fresh the next day; 
who can feel his nerve and his strength rising 
with swiftness and vigor to meet every spe- 
cial occasion when he must exercise strength ; 
who can endure good hard bodily work with- 
out getting ugly or too lame or too tired over 
it, is a great deal better off than the fellow 
who can do just one athletic stunt in a fash- 
ion superior to any other boy in the school. 

I don't mean that a boy should never 
specialize; he should, however, make sure of 
a well-rounded development all the time. 
The man who was the champion high jumper 
of the world for many years, William Byrd 



THE BODY AT ITS BEST 157 

Page of the University of Pennsylvania, was 
a helpless fellow with weak legs when he 
started out as a boy to get a little strength 
for muscles which would hardly work at all. 
He not only became the champion high 
jumper of the world, with a record of six 
feet and four inches, but was one of the best 
men in all-round development in the univer- 
sity. For instance, he would take long bi- 
cycle tours every summer ; he would practise 
on all sorts of apparatus in the gymnasium; 
when he was walking between his home and 
college, a good long walk, too, if he had any 
books to carry he would divide them equally, 
so that he could carry the same weight in 
each hand, to keep the development of both 
arms equal. 

The body is a wonderful gift of God to 
you, and you can store up in it the powers 
of endurance and quick action by healthy, 
outdoor, clean exercise as you can in no other 
way. If you find that you have a special 
talent in athletics, develop it in sensible ways, 
but never let up on the all-round develop- 
ment of muscle and wind and nerve and 
quick thinking. 

Keep your whole body at its best! 



THE SHARP JVORD TO MOTHER 

HAVE you ever watched the fields and 
the hillsides on a bright summer's day, 
when the sun was making everything beau- 
tiful, and the clouds were sailing down the 
sky like great white ships? You have seen 
a field of flowers, perhaps, glowing in the 
sunshine, and then gradually shaded by a 
cloud shadow creeping over it, until that 
happy field was dark and shadowed by the 
cloud above it? 

Perhaps some of you have seen mother's 
face when it was just as happy as that field 
of flowers, when suddenly a shadow would 
fall upon it like that cloud shadow, and re- 
main there much longer than you possibly 
could want to see it stay. It would go away 
after a time, and the same happy face would 
be there. 

Some of our boys know perfectly weU 
what will bring that cloud more quickly than 
almost any other one thing can bring it ; it is 
the sharp and unkind word that we speak to 
mother that just takes away the sunshine 

158 



SHARP WORD TO MOTHER 159 

from her face. And we are sometimes even 
so cruel about it that we say we don't care.; 
We know we do care, but it may seem more 
independent to act as if we did not care at 
all. The reason why that cloud comes is 
because mothers never get used to a boy's 
sharp words to one who would gladly lay 
down her life for him. Mothers generally 
have a far too high opinion of us, and it is 
their love and hopefulness for us that make 
them think of us as a great deal better than 
we really are^ Then, without any warning, 
right into the sunshine of such a love as that, 
sweeps a cloud of our making, because we 
have given rein to a flash of temper or a 
mean thought or a rising rebellion against 
authority. A good many fellows who are 
grown up would give many of their posses^ 
sions if they could go back to-day and make 
perfectly sure that no such cloud of their 
making ever would cross mother's face any 
more. You boys, however, are just at the 
beginning, and, whether you realize it or notj 
you can give your mother the greatest joy; 
by your ways with her, or you can shadow 
her life by the things you say or do. 

A boy who had been very cruel to hiM 



i6o BOY-TALKS 

mother in this respect, grew up to manhood 
and wandered very far from God and from 
his mother. But she never once let go of 
him, and God never let go. She would 
follow him and seek him out, and in a most 
loving, tender way, beg him once more to let 
her love have its place in his life. It was a 
long time before he yielded, but the day did 
come when she knew that he had learned 
the deep lesson that she had been trying to 
teach him. Nothing that she said could 
make him feel that he ever had hurt her at 
all. That was just like mother, wasn't it? 
But, as he looked back, he knew that nothing 
he might do ever could make up for the cruel 
and unkind things he had said to her. 

Christian chivalry calls upon a boy to re- 
gard his mother as the first lady in the world, 
as far as he is concerned, and no boy can be 
too attentive or too careful in every word 
and deed in trying to make his mother realize 
that he appreciates all that she has done for 
him. 

Whenever that ugly spirit attempts to get 
the upper hand of us, even for an instant> 
and tries to compel us to say cruel words to 
the mother who never should hear anything 



SHARP WORD TO MOTHER i6i 

of that kind, we ought to resist that impulse 
with all the power that God can give us. No 
fellow ever should allow himself for a single 
moment to be a cloud maker, to let his 
thoughtless unkindness be the cause for 
a shadow upon the face of one whose very 
life is sunshine for him, 



INITIALING THE BLOT 

HE DIDN'T mean to do It, of course, but 
the ink ran too freely, and there, on the 
clean white page of the account book was a 
blot.; Of course it was not his book, but it 
was his blot. Then he did what he always 
did when anything of that sort happened dur- 
ing his examination of the books of any one 
else ; he put his initials on that blot, so that 
any one who might see it thereafter could 
know who did it. 

This thoughtful man is an expert account- 
ant, one whose business it is to examine book- 
keepers' records to see if they are correct. Lie 
employs other men on the same kind of work, 
and they, when they make a blot, are in- 
structed to put their initials on it. Then 
neither the regular bookkeeper nor some 
other expert accountant will be blamed for 
that blemish on the otherwise clean page. 
The blame will rest where it belongs. 

It takes character to initial one's own blots. 
When some folks make a blunder, they try 
at once to cover it up, even though the blame 
162 



INITIALING THE BLOT 163 

may possibly fall on some one else. Suppose 
a library book is damaged by you on one of 
the inside pages. Perhaps no one will ever 
know who did it. Nothing is said when the 
book is returned. It is only a little torn 
place on one page, anyway. But that book 
goes out again. The boy who returns it 
hands it to a librarian, who runs over the 
leaves hurriedly, and notices the torn page. 
*'Too bad!" he says. *'You should be more 
careful !" 

''Oh, I didn't do that," is the quick an- 
swer. "It was that way when I got it." 

The librarian looks at him a moment, puts 
the book away, shakes his head, smiles, and 
says, "All right ; but I wish boys who do such 
things accidentally would report it when they 
bring back the book. Then we wouldn't 
blame fellows for doing what they didn't do." 

Your next-door neighbor has some fine 
rose bushes. Your baseball rolls under them, 
and after it you go. Suddenly something 
snaps, and down comes a branch of a bush. 
Y'ou crawl out, and get into the game again. 
By and by, Mrs. Neighbor, in looking over 
those bushes, finds the new shoot broken off. 
A pained expression comes over her face, 



,l64 BOY-TALKS 

and she says, "Those boys did it, I'm afraid! 
I Hke to see them have a good time, but I 
wish they wouldn't dash in here as they do. 
I wonder which boy did it?" Then she 
makes some wrong guesses, thinks it must 
have been some one who never did it, and 
you do not bear your share of the blame. 

That tendency to dodge the results of our 
doings, and to make folks think some one else 
is to blame, without actually saying so, is a 
subtle kind of dishonesty that eats its way 
into the character like a wasp in a porch post. 
You can see the hole where he went in, but 
you can't see the work he has done inside 
until some day that post has to come down. 

The boy who can see far enough ahead to 
know what such dodging will mean to him as 
time goes on, is likely to be wxll guarded at 
this point of great weakness in many fellows. 
The crash of a broken window scares some 
fellows so badly for fear of the consequences 
that they run like a rabbit, and let some one 
else bear the blame. They never would in- 
itial any blot of theirs, not they ! If there is 
any credit to be had, they wouldn't mind 
initialing that, if they could. But blame? 
"Oh, no," says such a boy. "Let folks guess 



INITIALING THE BLOT 165 

who did it, so long as it doesn't hit me." It 
is in small things that this sort of cowardice 
gets its first hold. If you should blot the 
page, put your initials alongside the blot ! 



"HALF MY FAULT" 

46i^^ O TO your tents !" That was the 

\J sharp word of command from the 
master of the camp, and Tom and Chester 
broke away, each stamping off to his tent. 
Trouble? Yes, a sudden squall -right out of 
a clear sky, such squalls as come once in a 
while in camps, in schools, and even in 
homes. For the suddenness of such storms 
is not peculiar to camps, 

A man was lying on a cot in one of the 
tents when Chester flung himself in, and 
flopped down on his own cot with a few 
short, angry words. He. didn't see the man 
at first, so he wasn't very careful about what 
he said. But presently he saw that he had 
company, and he wilted somewhat. 

'What's the matter, Chester?" asked the 
man. 

"Aw, the fellers were all sitting round on 
the grass, and when I got up, I tripped over 
Tom, and he thought I meant to, and threw 
a rock at me, and I threw one at him. Now 
Doc has sent both of us to our tents." 
i66 



"HALF AIY FAULT" 167 

*'Well, that's too bad/' said the man 
quietly. "It's too bad to lose your temper 
like that." And he rose up and laid his hand 
on the boy's shoulder. "You'd better not let 
go like that another time. It never pays," 
and he started out of the tent. 

"I know," said Chester suddenly, in a 
rather choky voice. "It was half my fault, 
anyway!" And the boy put his elbows on 
his knees, and his chin in his two hands, and 
sat blinking out into the twilight. He was 
taking his medicine now, and wasn't trying 
to make some other fellow take it. For in a 
storm like this, when a boy volunteers the in- 
formation that the trouble is "half my fault," 
you may be sure that he is taking a good deal 
more than half the blame, and will get more 
than half the good out of any fair punish- 
ment. Chester, sitting regretfully inside that 
tent, was more of a man as he accepted at 
least a big share of the blame, than he was on 
his way in, when it was all Tom's fault. 

What do you try to prove at such a time, 
when you have been in a mix-up with some 
one? 

Do you try to find out how much of the 
blame you can shift to the other fellow, or 



1 68 BOY-TALKS 

how much you ought honestly to take upon 
yourself? Here is the point: 

It is a great deal more important for a boy 
to find out where he is wrong, than to find 
out where the other fellow is wrong. 

That's something worth considering. If 
you are always trying to prove that you are 
right, you may be missing some big lessons 
that would help you to be right the next time 
where you were wrong this time. If you are 
interested chiefly in getting blame located on 
some one else, you may miss learning how 
you might have done better. Chester didn't 
do wrong when he accidentally tripped over 
Tom, but he did do wrong when he answered 
Tom's rock with another. And Chester was 
barking up the wrong tree when he put the 
whole blame on Tom. But Chester was get- 
ting somewhere w^hen he began to admit his 
own blame in the fracas. He could see now 
where he might prevent a storm another time. 

The trouble is that when you are so angry 
with some one else, you see red, and are not 
likely to see much else for the moment, even 
the hint that the incident has for you on the 
subject of how not to get into the same snarl 
again. 



"HALF MY FAULT" 169 

Let's not dodge the blame. If we do, we 
may dodge a blessing. The best place to set- 
tle this is right out in the open, in your life 
with the other fellows, and to settle it hand- 
somely, too. 

Otherwise, there's nothing the wise Master 
can do but say, "Go to your tent!" and then 
you can think it over. 



PICKING UP THE BUOY 

COMING up the inlet toward the anchor- 
age, a Httle yacht was making its way 
against wind and tide. It was hard work, 
but there was harder work ahead. 

After a time she would be in among the 
other boats lying at anchor,^and she must find 
her way to her berth, and then one of the 
crew must pick up the mooring- buoy. 

Did you ever see a yachtsman trying to do 
that ? Out there ahead, of him. in the water, 
as he comes picking his way in among* the 
other boats, is a white float perhaps; not over 
a foot or two long, and showing just a. little 
above the water. He must maneuver his 
yacht until he draws up just close enough, 
and at just the right speed to enable him to 
pick up that buoy with a boat hook. He must 
so regulate his speed that there will be no 
danger of running much beyond the buoy, 
and then he must round to at just the right 
moment, spilling the wind out of his sails, 
and letting them run down. 

If there are any other boys over on the 
170 



PICKING UP THE BUOY 171 

dock looking out across the ancHorage, you 
may be pretty sure that they will watch any 
yachtsman who tries to pick up his buoy. If 
he doesn't do it, every fellow on the dock will 
know exactly how it might have been done, 
and will be free to criticise the yachtsman 
who didn't quite make it. In order to pick 
it up just right, you must know your boat 
very well indeed, must know just how much 
"shoot" it has, and your judgment as to 
wind and tide and distance must be pretty 
keen. 

When you start out to do anything diffi- 
cult, you must take a great many things into 
account. If yoa are going to throw a ball 
from center field to the home plate, you con- 
sider the wind, the distance, your own 
strength, and the rate of speed at which the 
ball should go to catch the runner before he 
lands. Making a wild throw at such a time 
is a good deal like failing* to pick up your 
buoy when you are handling a yacht. 

Suppose you have a certain piece of work 
to do at school. There is a time when that 
work must be delivered, and you know you 
must do it. You may go along for a day or 
two, hoping that you are going to get time 



172 BOY-TALKS 

to look after that matter, when suddenly you 
find you are almost on top of it, and your 
speed isn't right to pick it up. Then there 
is a grand hustle, which perhaps ends in 
failure, and you fall away, become tangled 
up, and miss the buoy. Have you ever had 
the pleasure of doing anything like that? 

*T didn't realize how far it was," and "I 
didn't know how hard it was going to be," 
and 'T wasn't just thinking about that at the 
moment," are excuses we sometimes give to 
ourselves when we have missed the mark. 
But these excuses do not cure the trouble. 
What we need is a good deal more watchful- 
ness and fine judgment, gained by careful 
practise in the things we have to do. There 
is small reason for failing to do the thing 
we know we have got to do. The tide of 
other interests needn't deceive us; the light 
or the heavy wind of our impulses needn't 
drive us away from the right course or from 
the right speed; the time that we have to 
reach the mark, which, for all practical pur- 
poses, is the same thing as distance, needn't 
be very badly misjudged, if only we have 
our minds on the job, and will work steadily 
forward to the things we are trying to do. 



PICKING UP THE BUOY 173 

Is there anything ahead just now that you 
must do exactly in the nick of time? If 
there is, just remember how careful a yachts- 
man has to be when he starts to pick up the 
buoy. 



SANDPAPER 

MOST fellows find sandpaper pretty 
useful in smoothing down rough places 
in their carpenter work. But in all of us 
there are rough, unfinished places, which 
need polishing and smoothing. And if any 
kind friends attempt to use a little sandpaper 
on us it doesn't seem quite so wise and rea- 
sonable. 

Every fellow needs more or less sand- 
papering, but some fellows take it better than 
do others. You know there are certain kinds 
of wood that never do take as good a finish 
as others. If you try to smooth off a coarse, 
ragged grain that splits easily, you have a 
very different job from that which you have 
when you work on a fine piece of maple or 
mahogany. But if you are working to get 
a good finish, sandpaper, or something like 
it, must be used to take off the roughness. 

Some fellows get restless in school if the 

teachers use a little sandpaper on them in an 

effort to clear away some of the rough spots. 

Sullen looks and irritable words very often 

174 



SANDPAPER 175 

are the first answer a teacher receives in re- 
sponse to a little sandpapering work that he 
tries to do on a boy. If the boy himself 
only knew it, the teacher hasn't any spite 
against him; he just wants to give the boy 
a good finish, so that he will be fit for the 
finest uses. 

It is pretty hard to be called down in the 
presence of other people, to be told that we 
are dead wrong at this or that point, and that 
imless we change our attitude something is 
going to happen. It is pretty hard, after we 
have done our best in preparing a lesson, to 
be kept after school by the teacher for serious 
talk on our need for hard work. 

One boy who in his early teens never did 
like to study, used to have to write out in a 
notebook a record of the amount of time he 
had spent on each study during the day and 
evening, and present that record to his school 
principal every day. It wasn't always easy 
to go up to the principal's office with a slim 
study record, and to hear then what the prin- 
cipal felt obliged to say, but it always was a 
joy to see the look on the principal's face 
when the study record had been a good one. 

We ought not to try to run away from 



176 BOY-TALKS 

sandpapering. Sometimes in our homes we 
begin to feel that we can't stand the constant 
correction we are subject to, and that some- 
how we must escape from it by dodging it. 
If you will listen some time to grown men 
talking about things for which they were 
grateful in their boyhood, you will be inter- 
ested to notice that they look back to some of 
the home sandpapering they received as one 
of the best things that happened to them. 
If they had run away from it, or refused to 
take the finish that it gives, they would have 
amounted to far less in the world. 

One trouble with us is that we don't al- 
ways see what good the thing is going to do, 
and we would rather get along with less fin- 
ish if it means less sandpapering. But 
watch the fellows who are training for a 
football team, and see the hard rubs they get 
from the coach. He doesn't favor any one 
with soft apologies or an easy time. Each 
fellow must go through the training for all 
he is worth, must take his hard knocks with- 
out complaining. By and by the team is a 
finished product — a result it would not have 
reached without a seemingly heartless coach 
back of it. 



SANDPAPER 177 

If we only knew it, the hard training w^e 
are getting outside the football squad is just 
as much a part of preparation for big things 
to come as field practise and training-table 
diet are part of the football man's prepara- 
tion. Let us not dodge it, and think that we 
can get on without a good deal of sandpaper- 
ing from those who want to see us brought 
up to the highest standard. 



HANDICAPS 

A HANDICAP is an advantage that one 
fellow gives another in a contest. You 
know that, of course. If you give another 
boy a five-yard start in a hundred-yard dash, 
that five yards is the advantage over you that 
you give him. 

But you give it in a race because you be- 
lieve, or the manager of the race believes, 
that you are at least five yards better in the 
hundred-yard stretch than the other fellow, 
and the handicap is intended to equalize 
things somewhat. 

In some contests, however, no handicap is 
given by any one to any one. In the inter- 
collegiate sports there are no such allow- 
ances made. Every contestant there wins or 
loses on his merits, and no one gives him any 
advantage, nor does he give any to others. 

What would you think of a fellow, train- 
ing for the intercollegiate, who would carry 
with him to the track on the great day a pair 
of dumb-bells, and insist on carrying them 
through the race? What would you think 
178 



HANDICAPS 179 

of a chap who would kick his running shoes 
into a corner, and put on a pair of lumber- 
men's hobnailed boots to wear in the race? 
What would you say of the athlete who 
would sit down on the grass and devour a 
pound of chocolates just before his event was 
called ? 

But, strangely enough, a good many boys 
who are training for that very close contest 
we call Hfe actually do take on — knowingly, 
too — handicaps that hold them out of the 
winning class. Dumb-bells in a hundred- 
yard dash are feathers, when compared with 
some of the things that otherwise sensible 
boys take on as hindrances, when they ought 
to have no added weight at all. 

It was the day before a cross-country run, 
and a boy was talking over the chances of 
the other boys who were to be in the race. It 
was a hard race, calling for speed and special 
endurance. "Jimmy is good; he's been in 
lots of cross-country runs," he said. "Sam 
is good, too ! But I think Joe will win ; yes, 
I'm pretty sure he will. He has trained for 
it, and he doesn't smoke; the other fellows 
do." And then he exclaimed, "I'd take my 
chances on beating a smoker any time !" 



i8o BOY-TALKS 

Joe did win that race. Why did the other 
fellows let tobacco take just a little of the 
edge off their strength? 

Here is what a boy in a university of Wis- 
consin says about this smoking handicap. 
He is older than most of the boys who read 
this book, and he has learned a thing or 
two. **Many freshmen, in spite of their 
smoking, seem to get high standings; but 
when we look at the senior class, the best 
men do not smoke. Either they have cut it 
out, or they have dropped back in work. Since 
there is harm in smoking, and no loss in not 
smoking, but even advantage to be gained, I 
have never been tempted to begin the habit.'* 

That big boy sees the folly of adding a 
handicap to one's running togs in the brain 
contests of college life. Whether it is to- 
bacco, or some other drag on your strength, 
why take it on, when you need to be free for 
your task? A fellow who will deliberately 
take on the handicap of a foolish habit, is 
simply planning to cut down his lead in any 
kind of race, and come out with the tail- 
enders by choosing to impair his strength. 
Why do it? 



THE MORNING FACE 

DID you ever notice how seldom you 
have a thunderstorm in the morning? 
That is, outside the house! You know the 
old proverb, "Thunder in the morning, sail- 
ors take warning." Somehow the day usu- 
ally likes to start out cheerfully, unless it 
began sullenly before the light came — that 
is, the outdoors day. 

P'or some reason, inside the house it is 
often different. "Thunder in the morning, 
family take warning," and down to the break- 
fast table comes the young Indian whose 
name would be Thunder Face if he were 
named then and there. Surly looks, and a 
short "g'd morn'n," and Thunder Face, the 
gloom bringer, greets his family, and thus 
happily begins his day and theirs. No whis- 
tle of birds about him. No light step on the 
stairs, nothing but a rumble and a tumble 
and a grumble. 

And you cannot help wondering why. 
What is it that can possibly make a fellow 
act and look like that ? Out of sorts? What 

i8i 



1 82 BOY-TALKS 

of that ! Hate school ? Oh, well, you won't 
like it any more or stand it any better for 
venting your feelings on the family. A good 
many of us forget that the way we look and 
act isn't just our business, but is sure to 
affect others, and is always a matter of mo- 
ment to them and to us. 

If your idea of the proper "morning face" 
is a thundercloud, and you wear that sort of 
face, then you would do well to begin to 
practise what an overworked and rather lean 
and lanky minister says he does each day. 
"Before I leave my room in the morning," 
he says, "I try to think of something funny, 
and have a good laugh over it. If I can't 
think of anything amusing, I look in the 
mirror, and then I just have to laugh !" 

It is hard for a boy to realize what a big 
difference his morning face can make to his 
father, just as the father is facing his day's 
work. He may have a puzzling day ahead. 
Let him see that you care enough for him to 
look at him and speak to him cheerily. And 
mother has her cares, too, for that day. But 
a fellow who clouds his mother's day with 
his morning face — well, let's head him off 
and out the back door, to take a little turn in 



THE MORNING FACE 183 

the fresh air before he sees her ! Or, make 
him look in the mirror,. 

Here is what a man wrote who was ill a 
lot of the time, and a great sufferer. He 
called the poem *The Celestial Surgeon." 

If I have faltered more or less 
In my great task of happiness; 
If I have moved among my race 
And shown no glorious morning face; 
If beams from happy human eyes 
Have moved me not; if morning skies. 
Books, and my food, and summer rain 
Knocked on my sullen heart in vain: 
Lord, thy most pointed pleasure take 
And stab my spirit broad awake; 
Or, Lord, If too obdurate I, 
Choose thou, before that spirit die, 
A piercing pain, a killing sin. 
And to my dead heart run them in ! 

Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote these 
words, didn't need a stab like that, suffering, 
cheery soul that he was! Nor will you, if 
you will take time to think a little about that 
"morning face,/' 



MAKING IT GO 

THE boy who has a job to do had better 
do it. The time for it is when the time 
to do it has come. 

It isn't a question of feeUng Hke it. Some 
of us get badly fooled by our feelings. They 
deceive us into laziness and failure, and 
many a duty never would get done if we put 
it off until we felt like doing it. 

A boy who, much against his will, had been 
chosen President of a Christian Endeavor 
Society, at a time when the church of which 
he was a member was without a pastor, 
started out to do things for the society. But 
you know how it is even in junior and often 
in senior work. Just a few boys and girls 
were willing to help — a little, but not too 
much, 

One day the boy was talking to an older 
friend about the small attendance and lack 
of interest. 

"You're president, aren't you?" asked the 
friend. 

"Yes," answered the boy, "I'm president, 
184 



MAKING IT GO 185 

and I'm going to resign and let some one 
else try it." 

''Hold on a minute !" interposed the other. 
"Nothing like this can be made to go without 
work. Why don't you see what you can do 
before you quit? It's really up to you, you 
know, and if you get your officers together, 
lay out a membership plan, invite all the 
young people in the neighborhood, and stir 
things up generally, you'll have the satisfac- 
tion of knowing that you tried, anyway." 

The boy grew thoughtful, but wouldn't 
say just what he did think about the advice 
he had received. 

Some days later his mother was wakened 
about four in the morning by some one in 
her room. Then in the half-light she saw 
the boy sitting beside her on the bed. 

"Good morning, mother," he said with a 
chuckle. 

"Why, what are you up for at this hour ?" 
she exclaimed. 

"Well, I — well, I haven't been in bed! 
I sat up all night, and wrote thirty letters to 
the thirty members of our society, asking 
them to be present next Sunday." 

The mother hadn't much to say. She 



i86 BOY-TALKS 

didn't know whether or not to tell him what 
she thought of an all-night job for a boy of 
his age, or what she thought of his grit. 

And he did make it go. At the next 
meeting, instead of having the usual six or 
eight members present, there were twenty- 
eight in their places. 

Was it worth while? You know the an- 
swer ; you know that it does pay for a fellow 
to put time and strength into doing the thing 
he needs to do. The boy who waits for 
things to come his way will simply have to 
experience the shame of seeing them go the 
other way. The hard job that no one else will 
do, and that isn't much fun for any one, will 
draw the right sort of fellow to it as iron is 
attracted to a magnet. 

You remember that George Washington 
is said to have been the only boy in his neigh- 
borhood who could throw a stone across the 
Potomac. There are any number of Poto- 
macs challenging you in one way or another. 

Will you make it go? or will you just 
dream about doing it, and then put off and 
put off until you get drowsy and indifferent ? 

Not asleep now, are you? What's the 
next job waiting for you? 



"YOU'RE AFRAID!" 

A GOOD many fellows have been scared 
by the taunt, "You're afraid !'' shot out 
from the sneering lips of some other fellow. 
But every sensible boy knows there are times 
when it is right to be afraid. There are 
some things of which we ought to be afraid. 

''You're afraid!" is nearly always the 
challenge of fellows who have no special 
principle. If they want to do anything 
wrong, and want to .get you into it, they 
think they can appeal to you with that sort 
of talk. Some boys are always restless until 
they can get into their own bad ways a decent 
boy who wants to keep straight. 

We should never let a sneering challenge 
of any sort stir us up to do what we believe 
we ought not to do. Suppose you had made 
a certain promise to father or mother. In 
almost every neighborhood there is perhaps 
one boy who just aches to. see you break that 
promise. He thinks he can get you to do it 
by taunting you with your fear of punish- 
ment, when that isn't in your mind at all. 

187 



1 88 BOY-TALKS 

Your only fear is that you may do something 
contrary to the confidence that your parents 
have in you. Some of us do get stirred up 
by such a challenge, and once in a while, 
under the lash of that kind of whip, we break 
away from what we know is the right thing 
to do. That is cowardly and weak. 

A fellow with yellow stains on the inside 
of his fingers comes up to you and offers you 
a cigarette. You tell him pleasantly that 
you don't smoke. He looks at you with a 
sneer and says, "Aw, you're afraid!" The 
best answer to such a chap is to let him know, 
just as straight as you know how, that you 
are afraid of the poisonous thing that is 
hurting him, and that you don't propose to 
be bullied into hurting yourself in the way 
he is hurting himself. His taunt never can 
hurt you as much as the cigarette could. 

Did you ever see a gang of bullies trying 
to get two boys into a fight? They say 
ever3^hing they can to the two to stir them 
up against each other, and the spur that the 
gang will use is, "You're afraid !" No one 
quite likes to be thought a coward, and in a 
few minutes a boy is likely to lose sight en- 
tirely of why the fight was suggested, or 



YOU'RE AFRAID 189 

what it is he is fighting about. In he goes 
for all he is worth to fight another chap who 
doesn't need a licking, and who is fighting 
back at him only because he has been stirred 
up by the crowd around him. Doesn't it 
look rather silly when you see the thing as 
it really is? 

It isn't a question as to how little or how 
much a thing will hurt if we know it would 
damage our usefulness. We do right to be 
afraid of anything that makes us less useful 
than we ought to be, and of anything we 
think God would not wish to have us do. 

Are the fellows asking you to do some- 
thing that may seem only a very little off 
the right track, and are they stirring you up 
to it because they claim you are afraid? 
Well, if the thing is wrong you should be 
afraid, and the sooner you let them know it 
the better. It isn't a mark of courage to 
walk into temptation just to see how well you 
can stand it. It isn't learning an}i;hing you 
need to know, to try only once a thing that is 
wrong. Better be frankly afraid of doing an 
unclean thing than be afraid of the scorn of 
unclean fellows who want to drag you down 
to their level. 



THE HARD THING FIRST 

A GOOD many fellows spend so much 
time in picking over their duties to get 
at the easy one first, that they have time to 
finish neither the easy nor the hard tasks. 

A very able and hard-working man once 
said he found, when going through the big 
pile of letters on his desk, that he was likely 
to pick out the hard letters, and put them at 
the bottom of the pile. And he soon found 
that he had built up in that way a pile of 
letters that were no easier to manage than 
they were at first. He decided that he must 
change this habit of his, and tackle the hard 
letters first. 

There are your schoolbooks on the table 
for to-morrow's work — history, algebra, civ- 
ics, English. You look at one book (is it 
algebra?) and groan, and put that aside. 
Viother is pretty stiff for you, and so you 
at that on im waiting list also. Then you 
pick up the easier of the remaining two, and 
go to work. One after another you dig 
through the subjects, and at last pick up the 
190 



THE HARD THING FIRST 191 

algebra. Does it look any easier than it did 
at first? Is your mind any fresher now to 
tackle it? Why, that algebra looks as if it 
were all x — all an unknown quantity — and 
you are just a little too tired to do your best. 
Then a yawn. Then a sudden determination 
to do it. Then the first thing you know, bed 
pulls harder than x = I-don't-know-what- 
and-I-don't-care ; and in ten minutes you are 
asleep. Did it help you any to put off that 
algebra ? 

Well, not much, if you go by the mark you 
receive the next day. And you have simply 
bumped into a big fact in life — it is better 
to tackle the hard duty first. Sliding into 
your work by little glides isn't the way to 
build up vigorous tackling ability. You 
don't learn to do the hard duty any better by 
letting it grow harder, while you do the easy 
things that need no ginger or push at all. 
Put off, and put off, and put off the things 
that you are not sure you can do, and you 
pretty nearly make sure that you w411 fumble 
them and balk at them worse in the end than 
in the beginning. 

But w^hat happens when you do have the 
courage to pick out at the start, for imme- 



192 BOY-TALKS 

diate doing, the thing that is hardest? Just 
this : you save yourself a lot of worry about 
it. You tune up your mind and body to do 
the thing when you are fresh. You do not 
dodge, or shuffle, or squirm, but you go at the 
thing like a dog after a woodchuck. Will he 
get the woodchuck ? He doesn't know. He 
doesn't wait to practise on ants. No matter 
how deep that ''chuck" may be in the burrow, 
that dog makes the dirt fly with all four feet, 
and the neighborhood echoes with his bark. 
And the harder the job, the harder he works. 
He gets his practise then and there, and 
sometimes the ''chuck." Ask that little bow- 
legged brindle pup of yours if it isn't so. 

What every fellow needs is fearless 
promptness in getting right at the most 
difficult thing he has to do. Get it done. 
Get it behind you. The easy things will 
come along all right at the end of the proces- 
sion. Wliat you want to have it out with 
at the very beginning is the job that you 
think you are least able to do. The first 
thing you know you will get so that you 
hardly recognize a hard task when you see it. 



SHOULD THE MACHINE STOP? 

WHEN the ''Cameronia'' had cleared 
Sandy Hook on a February day, a pas- 
senger watched with keen interest the prepa- 
rations for the crossing of the North Atlantic 
in winter. Everything was made snug. The 
decks were cleared of all sorts of tackle that 
had been used in port, but the passenger was 
surprised to note that the winches were kept 
turning slowly. He thought their work was 
over, and that they would be stopped, for 
there were the stout steam-turned windlasses 
on the forward deck, used for handling 
cargo, and anchors. But no, the small en- 
gines kept up their low chuckle, as the ship 
made her way; and for days and days the 
windlasses ran steadily, through snow and 
sleet and howling gale and tumbling seas. 

Those sturdy laborers of the seas were 
kept moving so that they couldn't freeze up. 
It was better for them to be kept moving a 
little, than to be unable to move at all when 
wanted. That wintry Atlantic would soon 
have flung its spray over them, and the ice 

193 



194 BOY-TALKS 

would have clamped its iron grip upon gears 
and bearings. If a sudden call were made 
on those winches, what then? Well, per- 
haps just plain disaster, cold and grim, be- 
cause the machinery could not be set in mo- 
tion on the instant. 

Yes, it cost a little steam to keep them 
moving, and some slight care. It was good 
sense to have the windlasses always ready. 
And so the gears ran on day and night, with 
their cheery chatter, "We are ready, we are 
ready, we are ready !" Their talk was good 
to hear. 

Such sensible, cheery talk is always good. 
The fellow who understands the need of 
readiness, and keeps ready, has a flying start 
in tackling any job that comes his way. 

Such a machine as you are needs to be 
kept moving, to be kept in fine condition for 
use. How persistently the heart beats on! 
How constantly the brain works day and 
night! AVhat a web of messages pass from 
nerves to brain day in and day out! Of 
course, rest is needed. And plans must be 
made for rest. But the danger lies in think- 
ing that rest comes through idleness alone. 

Many a boy is at his worst in vacation 



SHOULD IT STOP? 195 

time. He takes on no work; he becomes 
irregular in his hours ; he spends considerable 
time in wondering what he will do next. 
The machine just runs down and stops, and 
often becomes unfit for work because it has 
not been kept in working trim. Some of us 
are too much Hke the man who insisted that 
he liked work, but he didn't like to work 
between meals ! There is not much danger 
of becoming unfit for service while school 
keeps, but when school is over, and the long 
vacation begins, what then? The big ocean 
liners that have been lying at their piers in 
New York harbor for months are not in so 
good shape for work as they were when they 
were following "a clean sea track," but you 
notice as you pass them in the ferries that a 
little steam is coming from the pipe along- 
side the big funnels. The fires are not en- 
tirely out; something is moving. Even in 
their long vacation they are to some degree 
kept ready. Yet many an otherwise level- 
headed boy lets real duty slide in vacation, 
ties up to a pier of indolence, and as for keep- 
ing up any brain steam, well, you would have 
to watch very closely indeed to see any sign 
of it. 



196 BOY-TALKS 

Certainly! Have a fine healthy, outdoor 
time of it when school closes; that is what 
you need. But you can do this without let- 
ting the thinking part of you stop entirely. 



THE TUNING COIL 

UP UNDER the roof of the house, a 
boy has his wireless instruments which 
send their long, mysterious messages out 
over the roof of the world. They catch the 
vibrations of those strange and little-under- 
stood waves which are set in motion by other 
instruments, perhaps a thousand miles away. 
On the left-hand end of his study table is the 
tuning coil. There is a world's wonder hid- 
den in the spirals of wire closely coiled 
around the cylinder. A little metal finger 
moved on a rod above them, and just touch- 
ing them with its flexible point, shuts out 
messages from all but the special wireless 
station which the boy may choose. By mak- 
ing the vibrations of his receiving apparatus 
tune exactly with the one he wants to hear, 
he can, by means of this device, tune out or 
tune in this or that station. 

Some of you fellows know how the wire- 
less works. You slip the receivers over your 
ears, adjust the detector, and push your 
sHder along the rod. There! Cape Cod is 

197 



198 BOY-TALKS 

at it now. Move the slider again and out 
goes Cape Cod and in comes Arlington. 
Another move and out goes Arlington and in 
comes Key West. So the tuning goes on, 
finding for you the station that corresponds 
with the vibrations allowed for by the num- 
ber of spirals marked off on the coil by the 
slider. The boy at the instrument can choose 
what he will or will not receive. The work 
of the slider is a mystery, but wireless would 
be only a jumble of mixed sounds without 
that part of the instrument. 

The boy cannot always stay up there un- 
der the roof, intent upon his nightly wan- 
derings over leagues of sea and land and sky. 
He can choose his messages there, but when 
he is out among the other fellows, does he 
still have the same privilege? Doesn't he 
have to take whatever message comes, and 
let all sorts of impressions strike in? Has 
he any way of tuning out any message he 
doesn't want to hear? 

He must find a way to do that very thing, 
or his soul will be just a mixture of good or 
bad that comes to him, not by his choice, but 
by the will of others. 

By honest, open, eager desire for the pure 



THE TUNING COIL 199 

and the clean, a fellow must learn to be in- 
sensitive to the evil things that try to make 
their appeal to him. When the first faint 
v^ave of an evil thought comes in over the 
sensitive antennas of the soul, just quietly 
ask God to help you to tune it out, and he 
will. When you feel an impulse which would 
only lead you into trouble, ask him to guide 
you as you tune up to a station that is send- 
ing out messages of a different sort, and he 
will do it. 

Remember that some day some one you 
love will need you. The call will come per- 
haps by only a look or a word. Mother may 
be needing a bit of encouragement, or father 
may be needing the cheery word of a grow- 
ing boy. Their stations will be sending out 
the S. O. S. for help. Then tune out all the 
selfish stations of your own interests, all the 
voices that call you elsewhere, and answer. 

The tuning coil is really a wonder. Is 
yours in working order? 



THE SUSPENDED KEY 

IN A GLASS CASE, resting on nothing, 
and evidently suspended by nothing, was 
a heavy iron key. Look as carefully as one 
would, he saw no hint of a thread holding it 
up. Visitors to the museum where the key 
was kept studied it until their eyes were tired, 
in a vain effort to find out what kept the key 
in mid-air. Magnets above and below it? 
You might guess that, and yet you are only 
**warm." For the key wasn't suspended by 
the balancing pull of magnets ; that couldn't 
be done in any practical way. 

No, there was another cause. Every one 
looked for a fine thread above the key, but it 
was not often that any one thought to look 
under the key for a thread. Yet there it 
was, holding the key down, against the pull 
of a magnet above ! That bit of iron would 
have moved right up to the magnet if the 
thread had not been there to hold it down. 

So would a boy rise straight to the magnet 
of a high, true aim in life if he cut the thread 
that holds him down. Perhaps it is a thread 

200 



THE SUSPENDED KEY 201 

that no one else can see easily, a thread 
that is a mystery to his friends. Folks won- 
der why he never quite "gets there." He 
seems to have brains enough, body enough, 
and he talks a lot about what he intends to 
do, but somehow there he hangs, neither up 
nor down, yet certainly not getting up toward 
the best that he might be. 

There goes a chap with a springy step 
on his way to school. He looks like a 
bright, pleasant fellow, and he is. But two 
men driving past on the way to the railroad 
station look at him and shake their heads, 
and talk in pitying tones about him. They 
had seen the thread, that was all. For hang- 
ing from that bright boy's lips was a little 
white cylinder, and a gray mist came curling 
up into the clean morning air. That little 
cylinder and the mist wreathing away from it 
would hardly weigh anything on the scales, 
but they were pulling that boy down with the 
strength of chains, so that he could not, while 
so held captive, rise to his best work. 

And sometimes the thread is up a boy's 
sleeve, where no one sees it. He sits as 
quietly and works as busily as any other fel- 
low in the school examination, and he never 



202 BOY-TALKS 



lets any one around him see the finely written 
words on the slip of paper just inside his left 
sleeve. That's the downward-puUing thread 
for him. How mean he feels when he is 
praised for his good work ! How he wishes 
he had the nerve to rise or fall because of 
merit, and that he need not stay down where 
that cheating thread is keeping him ! 

Fellows, take a look around ! What is it 
that tugs at your ideals and holds you down ? 
Why can't you get all the snap you might get 
from those good muscles of yours to drive 
you between bases, or over the hundred 
yards, or the jumping bar? Why does your 
thinker say sullenly that it won't work when 
the teacher's question is shot at you, and 
some one else gets in ahead with the answer ? 

You don't want to be kept down like that 
key. ''But the key was kept up," you say? 
Cut the thread, and see what will happen. 
The iron wanted to rise, but it couldn't rise 
until the thread that kept it down was cut. 

Isn't it time to get out your four-bladed, 
brand-new, spring-opening knife, and cut a 
few threads ? 



PAINTING A DROP OF WATER 

46/^ H, LET it go ! That's good enough. 

\J What's the difference ?" And so the 
boy who doesn't care ends up the job before 
it is finished, and is off like a shot to attend 
in the same way to something else. In this 
brilliant way he manages to leave a beautiful 
trail of unfinished work behind him, and he 
builds with practise a habit of letting things 
go, letting things get away from him before 
they should. 

Down in the village of Stonington, Con- 
necticut, a small boy lived with some rela- 
tives w^ho took care of him while his father 
was over in Russia building railroads. The 
boy used to spend a good deal of time making 
pencil sketches. Then he tried painting. He 
was most particular. A good lady who had 
charge of the boy told the writer that he used 
to spend hours painting the picture of a drop 
of water. No great view of the sea was 
that, although the boy lived by the sea. No 
landscape, though he lived close to fine views. 
He thought it worth while to put in long, 

203 



204 BOY-TALKS 

hard, careful work in learning how to paint 
a single glittering drop of water. 

The writer of these words stood one even- 
ing in a very rich man's drawing-room. 
*There is a Whistler I bought recently," said 
the host, pointing to a tall, full-length paint- 
ing of a man in old-time costume. A Whis- 
tler? No, the man wasn't whistling! The 
painting was by James McNeil Whistler, one 
of the most famous painters of our time. 
There was a free and careless look about the 
work — a look which one critic said the art- 
ist took great care to produce in his work. 
And how many thousand dollars that picture 
was worth it isn't safe to say. 

The little boy in Stonington working over 
the drop of water to get it just right, and 
the great artist whose wonderful work was 
done with such particular care — how like 
they were in their ways! It isn't strange, 
for small Jamie by the New England sea- 
shore became the famous Whistler who made 
his home in London, and whose pictures were 
and are in great demand. 

Boys, don't be too quick to let go the job. 
It may be a little tiresome to keep on to the 
very end, but never mind. It is never safe 



A DROP OF WATER 205 

to let any work go from under your hand that 
you know is not done with thoroughness. A 
fellow might just as well give up any idea 
of success, or mastery, or achievement in 
anything if he is willing to do work that isn't 
thorough. Trim up the ends ! Smooth off 
the rough spots! Put the polish on till it 
shines ! And while you are doing that to the 
job, the job is doing as much for you. Some 
day, when you have done a man's job in the 
same spirit, after you have gone out into the 
world of workers in handwork or brain 
work, others will see a book, a building, a 
machine, a bridge, that you did, and point to 
it, saying, "Oh, that's a Tom Brown ! You 
always know his work anywhere." 

What's the difference ? Well, a good deal. 



THE STRAIGHT TALK 
OF A BUTTON 

YOU wouldn't expect to have a button 
speak to you? Of course not. The 
boys didn't expect anything of the sort when 
the package was unwrapped. They had just 
received a tent by parcel post. It was a tent 
in which it was said that two persons could 
sleep comfortably, entirely protected from 
the weather; and when that tent was rolled 
up and tucked away in its case, it was only 
about eighteen inches long, and six inches in 
diameter, and so light that you could easily 
carry it on top of your haversack, or on the 
handlebars of your wheel. 

Any outdoor boy would be Interested in 
that tent. It was soon spread out, examined, 
set up, and tested. The tent pins were made 
of strong wire, and little straps, fastened to 
the edges of the tent with a kind of clip but- 
ton on them, could be looped around the pins 
and snapped fast with the buttons. 

Suddenly one of the buttons spoke up. 
All it said was stamped right in the metal 
itself, but it said most plainly, *'Go light, but 
206 



THE STRAIGHT TALK 207 

right." A look at the other buttons showed 
that they were all saying the same thing. 

Last night the tent was out in a heavy 
storm. No one slept in it. The rain beat 
upon it ; the wind blew about it. It was all 
snugly set up and fastened in, and alone in 
the darkness of the mountains. Now two 
persons might just as well have had the fun 
of sleeping in it, for this morning, when the 
skies had cleared, the boys looked into that 
tent to see whether or not it had done its 
work well. It was as dry and clean within 
as one could possibly wish. The pegs and 
the buttons still held ; the light fabric — sides 
and floor — had proved itself waterproof 
and storm-proof. 

All through the storm those stout buttons 
were saying to the rain and the wind : "We 
go light, but right. We are not afraid of 
you. Go ahead with your fuss! We'U sit 
tight." And they did. 

What those buttons say is this : After all, 
Tightness is the biggest part of strength for 
service. It isn't always the big, muscle-bound 
chap who is the strongest. The spirit of 
Tightness within can make up, in a storm, for 
lack of bulk and thickness. 



2o8 BOY-TALKS 

Haven't you noticed how able you are 
when you know that you are having a clean 
day, when you have been keeping close to 
Jesus? That sort of day is so different in 
studies and in recreation from the day in 
which you have allowed anything unclean to 
lay hold upon you. You can look anything, 
any one, straight in the eyes when you are 
right at heart, and the amount of work you 
can turn out then, and the amount of ground 
you can cover in your stride, is amazing. 
Everything looks hopeful and bright on such 
a day as that ; and you seem to be able to do 
things that are quite impossible to you on a 
day when the rightness has been spoiled by 
crookedness of any sort. 

It is well to go light, to learn the nicest ad- 
justment of your brain and muscles to your 
task, to learn how to be quickly fitted to your 
job; how to move easily and smoothly to the 
next duty ; how to serve others with the least 
burden or care to them. But going light is 
only disappointing unless you are also going 
right, going with every particle of your being 
all true and tested, and trustworthy. 

Do you remember a maker of tents who 
knew how to *'go Hght, but right"? The 



THE STRAIGHT TALK 209 

Apostle Paul, when his tents were turned 
over to the users, must have been careful to 
make them just light enough for use, and so 
right that any one could trust them. And he 
himself let God make him over into a clean- 
cut, noble man, who w^as as light and as quick 
as the wind to obey God's call, and as strong 
as steel to meet whatever he had to meet. 

Don't you think those buttons are about 
right in what they said and are saying to 
the boys ? 



WHAT YOU CANT DO, YOU CAN DO 

NOW don't start out by saying that you 
can't believe such stuff as that, because 
perhaps you can, and that might show the 
truth of this heading. 

There was once a boy in the State of Ohio 
who was born without arms. His family 
did not seem to get on very comfortably in 
this world, and as he grew up it was quite 
uncertain as to what he was going to be able 
to do. The fact that he had no arms seemed 
to cut him out from, most work that a boy 
with arms could do, and people wondered 
how he'd manage to get on. 

He settled that question for them by and 
by. As he grew to be a big boy he became 
a great lover of horses. You would hardly 
expect a boy without any arms to do much 
with horses, but this boy made up his mind 
that he could. He studied the matter over, 
and finally made a harness for himself in- 
stead of for the horse. He rigged that har- 
ness over his armless shoulders in such a 
way that, by swinging his shoulders from 

2IO 



WHAT YOU CAN'T DO 211 

side to side, he could pull on the reins that 
ran to the bridle of the horse. 

You see, he was beginning to do what 
most people would say a boy without arms 
could not do.. If you think he went to all 
this trouble just for the fun of it, you are 
quite mistaken. By and by he began to 
train horses, after he had learned to drive 
them, with this harness of his. He learned 
how to put a young horse through his first 
paces, and to teach him how a decent horse 
should act under all circumstances. As time 
went on, this armless boy grew to be an arm- 
less man, but not a useless man; for he 
found that persons from all directions were 
sending their horses to him to be trained. 
He built up a large business in this work, 
became prosperous, and an influential man 
in his neighborhood. An armless boy learn- 
ing to be a trainer of horses ! Who would 
have supposed such a thing possible? 

Sometimes a boy is backward in school in 
a certain lesson, and he begins to think that 
he never can do it well. It may be that that 
very study is going to be his strongest point 
after a little time of special effort in the 
concentration of his faculties on that par- 



212 BOY-TALKS 

ticular thing. A prominent railroad presi- 
dent used to say that ''only Omnipotence can 
stand in the way of a determined man." He 
meant to say that only God himself could 
prevent a person of great determination 
from doing the thing that he believes should 
be done. 

You have been thinking through these 
talks with me about some of the things that 
ought to be stored up in your treasury. 

Look into your treasury of character to- 
day, boys, and ask yourselves honestly if 
there is a great empty space there that ought 
to be filled up by worthiness and power and 
strength that can count for something in 
this world. Thanks be unto God that what 
we cannot be by ourselves, we can be with 
him; that the very thing that seems to dis- 
able us now may open up to us wonderful 
avenues of usefulness. Do you see what I 
meant by that heading? 



NOT BY CLIMBING 

DID you ever feel the lure of the moun- 
tains? Did a mountain ever call to 
you from miles away, over the gray rocks, 
dark-green spruces, and the grassy pastures, 
until you had to follow ? When the moun- 
tain calls, a boy would better go, if he can, 
for mountains have something to say to any 
boy who will let them lift him up where they 
can have a little time alone with him. 

One day a boy felt that he needed a moun- 
tain climb. He walked for miles over the 
dusty roads, up the three-mile hill, down 
again by the lake in the Notch, and then 
turned aside to the trail up the mountain. 

The boy had been having a pretty hard 
time with temptations of more than one 
kind. That is, he had, until within a few 
weeks. But lately he had been depending on 
a new Friend, one who went with him every- 
where, and who just stepped in between the 
boy and the wolves of temptation. When 
that Friend said ''Stand back!" the wolves 
stood back. They hadn't always done so 
213 



214 BOY-TALKS 

when the boy had told them to, but the boy 
was now trusting his Friend of whom the 
wolves were afraid. Of course that Friend 
was on the trail with the boy as he went up 
the mountain, for you don't get away from 
your pack of temptations just by climbing. 

Up through the spruces the boy went. He 
passed among the big trees first, and then 
among the smaller, and then out through 
little groves of spruce that would never be 
as high as his head. At last he was above 
the timber line, striding along among the 
gray rocks of the summit. What a keen 
wind was blowing ! What wonderful views 
were flung out before him! How close he 
seemed to cloudland! 

But do you know, even up there, the temp- 
tations did not let him alone. Some things 
that had troubled him once tried to drag him 
down now. But the Friend again stood be- 
tween the boy and the snarling pack. 

By and by he went down to the valley 
again, and a person who loved him, and who 
thought that climbing would lift a fellow 
pretty surely above most troubles, said almost 
enviously, 'That must have been a great up- 
lift for you." The boy smiled and nodded; 



NOT BY CLIMBING 215 

for it had been. But when he got clear down 
in the valley, this is what he said to another 
who loved him : "Do you know I learned up 
there that Satan can climb just as fast as I 
can ! He didn't let me alone. I could almost 
hear him talking to me. But he never got 
me," he said with a happy laugh, "because 
Christ was there, and I had the joy that vic- 
tory through Christ gives. Oh, I had a great 
time ! It Avas wonderful." 

His face showed it. The mountain had 
taught him a big happy lesson that day. He 
could not climb away from Satan, but Satan 
had no way to get at him, in valley or moun- 
tain, when he let Christ stand between the 
temptation and himself. And warfare 
against the evil that would down us is thrill- 
ing when we let Christ fight for us. 

Have you been trying to get your thoughts 
clean just by the purifying winds in the high 
places? Have you thought that summits 
will keep you free from sins ? Fellows, the 
high places and the summits are wonderful 
experiences for us. Up there Christ can 
often speak to us in special ways when we are 
alone ; but Satan doesn't wait for us to come 
down. He climbs, too. He might just as 



2i6 BOY-TALKS 

well save himself the climb, however, if your 
P'riend is with you. 

There is no mountain-top experience that 
comes anywhere near the joy of letting Christ 
give you victory. Will you trust him to do 
it? Tell him so! 



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