Stories Worth Rereading: A Gold Medal

[Right and generous deeds are not always rewarded nor always recognized; but the doing of them is our duty, even diough they pass unnoticed. Sometimes, however, a noble, unselfish, manly act is met by a reward that betrays, on the part of the giver, the same praiseworthy spirit as that which prompted the act. Do right, be courteous, be noble, though man may never express his appreciation. The God of right will, in his own good time, give the reward.]

I shall never forget a lesson I once received. We saw a boy named Watson driving a cow to pasture. In the evening he drove her back again, we did not know where. This was continued several weeks.

The boys attending the school were nearly all sons of wealthy parents, and some of them were dunces enough to look with disdain on a student who had to drive a cow. With admirable good nature Watson bore all their attempts to annoy him.

“I suppose, Watson,” said Jackson, another boy, one day, “I suppose your father intends to make a milkman of you?”

“Why not?” asked Watson.

“O, nothing! Only don’t leave much water in the cans after you rinse them, that’s all.”

The boys laughed, and Watson, not in the least mortified, replied:—

“Never fear. If ever I am a milkman, I’ll give good measure and good milk.”

The day after this conversation, there was a public examination, at which ladies and gentlemen from the neighboring towns were present, and prizes were awarded by the principal of our school. Both Watson and Jackson received a creditable number; for, in respect to scholarship, they were about equal. After the ceremony of distribution, the principal remarked that there was one prize, consisting of a gold medal, which was rarely awarded, not so much on account of its great cost, as because the instances were rare which rendered its bestowal proper. It was the prize of heroism. The last medal was awarded about three years ago to a boy in the first class, who rescued a poor girl from drowning.

The principal then said that, with the permission of the company, he would relate a short anecdote:—

“Not long ago some boys were flying a kite in the street, just as a poor lad on horseback rode by on his way to the mill. The horse took fright and threw the boy, injuring him so badly that he was carried home, and confined some weeks to his bed. Of the boys who had unintentionally caused the disaster, none followed to learn the fate of the wounded lad. There was one boy, however, who witnessed the accident from a distance, who not only went to make inquiries, but stayed to render service.

“This boy soon learned that the wounded boy was the grandson of a poor widow, whose sole support consisted in selling the milk of a cow, of which she was the owner. She was old and lame, and her grandson, on whom she depended to drive her cow to the pasture, was now helpless with his bruises. ‘Never mind,’ said the friendly boy, ‘I will drive the cow.’

“But his kindness did not stop there. Money was wanted to get articles from the apothecary. ‘I have money that my mother sent me to buy boots with,’ said he, ‘but I can do without them for a while.’ ‘O, no,’ said the old woman, ‘I can’t consent to that; but here is a pair of heavy boots that I bought for Thomas, who can’t wear them. If you would only buy these, we should get on nicely.’ The boy bought the boots, clumsy as they were, and has worn them up to this time.

“Well, when it was discovered by the other boys at the school that our student was in the habit of driving a cow, he was assailed every day with laughter and ridicule. His cowhide boots in particular were made matter of mirth. But he kept on cheerfully and bravely, day after day, never shunning observation, driving the widow’s cow and wearing his thick boots. He never explained why he drove the cow; for he was not inclined to make a boast of his charitable motives. It was by mere accident that his kindness and self-denial were discovered by his teacher.

“And now, ladies and gentlemen, I ask you, Was there not true heroism in this boy’s conduct? Nay, Master Watson, do not get out of sight behind the blackboard. You were not afraid of ridicule; you must not be afraid of praise.”

As Watson, with blushing cheeks, came forward, a round of applause spoke the general approbation, and the medal was presented to him amid the cheers of the audience.

The Children’s Own.