John was fifteen, and anxious to get a desirable place in the office of a well-known lawyer, who had advertised for a boy. John doubted his success in obtaining this position, because, being a stranger in the city, he had no reference to present.
“I am afraid I will stand a poor chance,” he thought, despondently; “however, I will try to appear as well as I can, and that may help me a little.”
So he was careful to have his dress and person neat, and when he took his turn to be interviewed, went in with his hat in his hand and a smile on his face.
The keen-eyed lawyer glanced him over from head to foot. “Good face,” he thought, “and pleasant ways.” Then he noted the neat suit,—but other boys had appeared in new clothes,—saw the well-brushed hair, and clean skin. Very well; but there had been others quite as cleanly. Another glance, however, showed the finger-nails free from soil. “Ah, that looks like thoroughness,” thought the lawyer.
Then he asked a few direct, rapid questions, which John answered as directly. “Prompt,” was his mental comment; “can speak up when necessary.”
“Let’s see your writing,” he added aloud.
John took a pen and wrote his name.
“Very well; easy to read, and no flourishes. Now, what references have you?”
The dreadful question at last! John’s face fell. He pad begun to feel some hope of success, but this dashed it again.
“I haven’t any,” he said, slowly. “I am almost a stranger in the city.”
“Cannot take a boy without references,” was the brusque rejoinder.
As he spoke, a sudden thought sent a flush to John’s cheek. “I haven’t any reference,” he said, with hesitation; “but here is a letter from mother I just received. I wish you would read it.”
The lawyer took it. It was a short letter:—
“MY DEAR JOHN: I want to remind you that wherever you find work, you must consider that work your own. Do not go into it, as some boys do, with the feeling that you will do as little as you can and get something better soon, but make up your mind that you will do as much as possible, and make yourself so necessary to your employer that he will never let you go. You have been a good son to me, and I can truly say that I have never known you to shirk. Be as good in business, and I am sure God will bless your efforts.”
“H’m!” said the lawyer, reading it over the second time. “That’s pretty good advice, John, excellent advice. I rather think I will try you, even without the references.”
John has been with him six years, and last spring was admitted to the bar.
“Do you intend taking that young man into partnership?” asked a friend lately.
“Yes, I do. I could not get along without John; he is my right-hand man!” exclaimed the lawyer, heartily.
And John always says the best reference he ever had was his mother’s good advice and honest praise.