One Young Man’s “No”


In a hotel billiard room at a fashionable resort were half dozen young men, playing for money and the “drinks.” An acquaintance, having some errand to one of the players, came in, and was urged to make one of the party in the game.  “Bring another hot scotch!”

“Not for me,” said Harry, peremptorily, and with a bit of extra color in his face.

“Oh pshaw!  You won’t play?”

“No I don’t wish to.”

“Nor you won’t drink a bumper with us?”
“Jack, you are going too far.  I would drink if I wanted it.  You would not force a man to drink who was not thirsty?”

“Oh fudge! Harry, you’re afraid to risk a dollar!  You’d drink a hot scotch, or a glass of wine with us if you dared to play.  O Hal, I didn’t think you’d grown so timid!”

Now the young man’s face flushed to some purpose.  It was a handsome face; and he acted really noble as he drew himself up to his full height.  “Boys you have spoken freely to me.  I am timid I confess.  I am fearful; but you know very well I fear not the loss of a dollar.  I will tell you presently what I fear.  Do you remember Dan H.?”  Naming a young man, who not a year previously, had been apprehended and tried and convicted of forgery and embezzlement to a large amount; and who was AT THAT VERY TIME, serving his penalty in state’s prison.  That young man, a trusted book keeper and cashier, had been intimate with these very youths.

“You remember him, I know,” Harry continued, “and you can remember the time when he was as jovial and happy over hi billiards and whisky and his gambling, as you are now.  Oh, do not wince!  I call it by its right name.  If it is not gambling, what is it?  Boys, if Dan had been a little fearful in those days, he might have been differently situated now.”  Then he added in a lower tone, and with deep solemnity,--

“And Now, I tell you frankly, of what I am afraid, I have a mother you know whether she loves me or not—and I have a sister looking to me for joy and comfort in life.  I have also a business character and I trust abroad, bright future before me.  Must I tell you—I am afraid—I shrink in mortal dread, from anything that can endanger these sacred interests.  Not for all the world would I knowingly and willingly bow my dear mother’s head in sorrow.  And since even the appearance of evil may weaken the prop of a sterling character, I will try to avoid that.  Now you must understand me.  Go on, if you will and enjoy yourselves if you can.  It would be misery to join you here.”

He then called aside the young man whom he had come to see, who after a brief conversation with Harry, put up his cue, and announcing that he should not go on with the game, quietly went out with his friend.

Two balls remaining on the table were not pocketed.  The game was suffered to end where it stood.  There was a question asked by one of the five remaining as to what should be done with the money.  The chief answered instantly and without argument, by giving each man back his dollar.  Then they went out, leaving full one-half the drink in their glasses untouched.

Subsequent inquiry showed that three of those youths had not been seen in the Billiard room since that evening; two of them had occasionally dropped in together, and played a social game; but had neither put up money nor drank.  Of the six, nothing was learned.

The end no man can see.  There is a power in personal influence, that we sometimes undervalue.  Many a youth has escaped temptation because a stronger companion said “No” and many another has fallen because no such help was near.


Kind Words