By the Roadside
The Project Gutenberg eBook, By the Roadside, by Katherine M. Yates
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Title: By the Roadside
Author: Katherine M. Yates
Release Date: May 17, 2006 [eBook #18409]
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK BY THE ROADSIDE***
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| By The Roadside |
Katherine M. Yates
"UP THE SUNBEAMS"
"ON THE WAY THERE"
"WHAT THE PINE TREE HEARD"
"THROUGH THE WOODS"
"ALONG THE TRAIL"
"ON THE HILL TOP"
"AT THE DOOR"
PUBLISHERS OF GOOD BOOKS
BOSTON – MASS.
KATHERINE M. YATES
By the Roadside
"It's time to go to work," said the little brown Dream.
"I'm not ready to go to work," said Marjorie, crossly, turning over andsnuggling her head more comfortably into her pillow.
The Dream said nothing. He only sat on the foot-board and swung hisfeet.
By and by Marjorie turned over again,—and then again,—and then at lastshe sat up, exclaiming angrily: "I wish you wouldn't bother me! I wantto go to sleep."
"Well," said the Dream, "how am I preventing you from sleeping?"
"You said it was time to go to work."
"That was half an hour ago," said the Dream. "I haven't spoken since."
"That doesn't make any difference," said Marjorie. "When you once say athing that I know is true, it stays with me, and you might as well keepshouting it all the time as to have said it once;—I can't get away fromit."[Pg 6]
"If it is true, why do you want to get away from it?" asked the Dream.
"Because—" Marjorie hesitated, "—because I'm sleepy," she saidpetulantly.
"There are ever so many sleepy folks in this world," observed the Dream.
"Then one more can't make much difference," said Marjorie.
"That's what the others think,—and that's why there are so many.Suppose every one thought that!"
Marjorie pondered for a moment,—then she laughed. "Just think what agreat big alarm-clock it would take to wake them all up!" she said.
The Dream rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "An alarm-clock is a prettynoisy article," he observed, "and it never says anything; and besides, Idon't like its name. But one good, wide-awake person—" he lookeddirectly at Marjorie, "—one good, wide-awake person could waken a verygreat many people—if he wanted to. But go on to sleep if you choose. Iwon't bother you."
"I'm not sleepy any more," said Marjorie; "and anyway, I slept only alittle while after you spoke."[Pg 7]
The Dream nodded. "Only a little while,—just long enough to let yourwork pass you by."
"My work?" exclaimed Marjorie. "Why, I hadn't anything in particularto do!"
"Every one has something in particular to do," said the Dream, "if hehas his hand ready;—but yours wasn't,—it was under your cheek."
"What was the work?" asked Marjorie.
The Dream pointed up the long hill in front of them; and away, almost atthe top, she saw a little girl lifting a basket from the roadside, whereshe had set it while she was resting. It was a large, heavy basket witha handle at each end, and so it was awkward for one to carry alone.Marjorie started forward impulsively; but the Dream did not stir."Wait," he said, "you cannot catch up with her now, before she reachesthe top of the hill; it is only a little way farther."
"But," cried Marjorie, "I can help her then! That basket must be hard tocarry, even on level ground."
"She lives at the top of the hill," said the Dream, quietly. "She has nofarther to carry it."
Marjorie bit her lip. "And she was right here when you first spoke?"[Pg 8]
"Yes," said the Dream, "she was right here."
"But I didn't see her," protested Marjorie.
"You weren't looking for her," said the Dream.
"I'm sorry," said Marjorie, "but—but—" searching vainly for an excuse;and then a little virtuous tone coming into her voice; "—as likely asnot she is better off for having carried it alone,—stronger, youknow,—more experienced,—" this last rather lamely, for the Dream waslooking at her fixedly. "Don't you think so?" she asked presently, asthe Dream made no reply.
"I think," he said at last, "that there was Some One, a long time ago,who spent His entire life helping others, wisely."
"And I suppose you think that I ought to have taken the whole basket andlugged it up the hill for her, and let her walk along and carry herhands!" exclaimed Marjorie, angrily.
"No," said the Dream, "not unless, for some reason, you thought that youought to. You are not arguing honestly. You are not called upon to doone thing more than you think, honestly, that you ought to. No morethan that is your work."[Pg 9]
"But I could make myself think—" began Marjorie.
"I said honestly," said the Dream. "It isn't honest to make yourselfthink anything."
"But mustn't I study about it, and try—"
"Cer-tain-ly! Study about it carefully; but do it fairly. Don't takewhat some one else says that you 'ought' to do, and try to shaveyourself down to fit it. Study it out and think it out for yourself; andthen if the other fellow's opinion seems wise, follow it;—and if itdoesn't, follow a better one of your own."
"But suppose that some one has a right to tell me what to do?"
"That's different. If you have given some one the right to tell you whatto do, it must be because you believe that person understands betterthan you do. If you believe that, be obedient; if you don't, say so andgo your own way. Be honest, that's all,—be honest with you."
"Yes, with you. If you are honest with yourself, you are square with theworld."
"I see," said Marjorie. "Oh, dear, that is the third stone I've stumbledover in two minutes![Pg 10] I wonder why some one doesn't roll them out of theroad,—they are not so very large."
"I wonder why," echoed the Dream, and there was a queer little note inhis voice that made Marjorie glance toward him; and then her faceflushed and she gave a little laugh.
"Why, of course it's my work!" she exclaimed, stooping and beginning toroll one toward the side of the way. It was rather heavy and awkward tohandle; but she kept bravely on, and soon returned for another. As shebent toward it, she happened to glance back down the road, and then shesuddenly straightened up. "Oh, look!" she cried. "See all the peopledragging that wagon up the hill,—and just hear them shout! Somethingmust have happened to the horse! I'm going to help!" and she started torun down the hill.
"I thought you were busy," called the Dream, after her.
"Yes," she called back, "I know; but I can do that after a while,—Iwant to help with the wagon now;" and she ran on down the hill, andsqueezing in among the others, she managed to get hold of one of theropes, although there was[Pg 11] scarcely room for her hand to grasp it. Upthe hill she came, struggling and panting with the rest, and as shereached the spot where the Dream had remained, she waved her free handproudly; but just then her foot struck a stone, and she tripped and fellagainst the person next to her, who let go of the rope in a wild effortto regain his balance; while the man behind her stumbled upon her feetand let go his hold; others stumbled, the rope was jerked from theirhands, and in another moment the wagon began to roll slowly backward.Every one made a dash for it; but it was too late, and in an instant itwas careening madly down the hill,—then a wheel struck another stone,the tongue turned, and with a great lurch the whole thing went over,scattering potatoes, turnips, and other vegetables in every direction,and sending barrels and boxes rolling and tumbling down the hill with atremendous clatter.
Marjorie had picked herself up and stood watching it all with great,frightened eyes. "Oh, look, look!" she cried. "It's all my fault, and Iwas only trying to help! Oh, I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to trip,—Itruly didn't!"[Pg 12]
"Never mind, never mind," said a man near her, "you weren't to blame. Itwas all because of those stones in the road,—any one would trip onthings like that;—some one else would have stumbled if you hadn't, sodon't worry," and he began pitching the stones out of the way.
"Oh," cried Marjorie, in dismay, "then it really was my fault more thanI thought! Why didn't I keep on with what I was doing, when it needed tobe done, and I was doing it right! Oh, dear, what shall I do now?"
But the man did not understand. "You can't do anything," said he,sending the last stone flying into the ditch. "It isn't your fault; itis the fault of the people who go by here every day and leave thesestones lying in the road, when it would take only a few moments to clearthem away. Now run along and don't worry,—you couldn't help it."
So Marjorie turned and walked sorrowfully away beside the Dream.
"I don't see why it didn't come out right," she said at last. "I reallywanted to help,—I was honest."
"Were you, truly?" asked the Dream.[Pg 13]
"Why, yes," said Marjorie, "I—" then she hesitated.
"You saw the need of moving the stones, didn't you?"
"Yes," said Marjorie.
"And you were able to do it?"
"And the people were really bringing the wagon up the hill quite easily,there were so many of them?"
"Yes," admitted Marjorie.
"Then, honestly, why did you leave the stones in order to go and pull onthe rope?"
Marjorie stood still and thought, very soberly. "Well," she said atlast, "I guess it was because it looked more interesting."
"It wasn't because you actually thought that they needed your help?"
"No-o," admitted Marjorie. "But then, I didn't stop to think of it thatway,—I just wanted to do it."
"But you didn't ask yourself why you wanted to do it,—or if it werewise?"
"No-o. It just looked like helping, and I—I wanted to be in with theshouting."
"Yes," said the Dream, "you are not the[Pg 14] only one who wants to 'be inwith the shouting.' But just let me tell you something:—if you want tobe honest with yourself, carry a great big WHY around with you all thetime,—and when you have an impulse to do anything, look at that first.Don't just glance at it,—look at it squarely, if for only a moment.When you have answered that honestly, you will know what to do."
The two walked on in silence for quite a distance. By and by Marjorieheaved a little sigh. "I wish that I could find a big work," she said."I wish that it would be very, very big,—very, very big and verywonderful."
"Why?" asked the Dream.
"Oh!" cried Marjorie, clasping her hands, "so that years and years fromnow, people would look at it and say that I did it,—and wouldremember me for it."
"'M-hm," said the Dream.
"Wouldn't that be grand?" went on Marjorie, enthusiastically.
"'M-hm," said the Dream.
Marjorie looked hard