Chapter 17: John Manly's Talk
"You are a very good man," said James. "I wish I may ever be like you."
"I don't often speak of myself," said John, "but as you are going
away from us out into the world to shift for yourself I'll just tell you
how I look on these things. I was just as old as Joseph
when my father and mother died of the fever within ten days of each other,
and left me and my cripple sister Nelly alone in the world,
without a relation that we could look to for help. I was a farmer's boy,
not earning enough to keep myself, much less both of us,
and she must have gone to the workhouse but for our mistress
(Nelly calls her her angel, and she has good right to do so).
She went and hired a room for her with old Widow Mallet,
and she gave her knitting and needlework when she was able to do it;
and when she was ill she sent her dinners and many nice, comfortable things,
and was like a mother to her. Then the master he took me into the stable
under old Norman, the coachman that was then. I had my food at the house
and my bed in the loft, and a suit of clothes, and three shillings a week,
so that I could help Nelly. Then there was Norman;
he might have turned round and said at his age he could not be troubled
with a raw boy from the plow-tail, but he was like a father to me,
and took no end of pains with me. When the old man died some years after
I stepped into his place, and now of course I have top wages,
and can lay by for a rainy day or a sunny day, as it may happen,
and Nelly is as happy as a bird. So you see, James, I am not the man
that should turn up his nose at a little boy and vex a good, kind master.
No, no! I shall miss you very much, James, but we shall pull through,
and there's nothing like doing a kindness when 'tis put in your way,
and I am glad I can do it."
"Then," said James, "you don't hold with that saying,
`Everybody look after himself, and take care of number one'?"