"You never signed the pledge, did you, Uncle John?"

Uncle John was Harry's ideal of a great and noble man. And it was not a mistaken-ideal.

Uncle John's hair was white with the passing of over eighty winters, but his eye was bright, his step firm, and his voice earnest and kindly as ever.

His life had been one of uprightness as well as one of what the world calls success.

"I never signed a pledge on my own account; but I have signed several as an example or aid to others," replied Uncle John.

"Casper Firm stone is all the time teasing me to sign," said Harry; "but I know I can drink a gill of cider and not want any more, or let it alone if I do want it. And I can take one sip of the best wine. Mr. Fraser has, and not take the second.

So I don't see any use in hampering a fellow with a piece of paper,"

"Don't be too sure about what you can do, Harry. I've seen a good many `sure' people in my life, as well as a good many cautious' people, and I've always noticed in a long run that the cautious people were the safest. I'll 'tell you where I first learned that lesson, if you'd like to know."

"I should," said Harry, always ready at the first hint of a story.

"When I was a boy, a good deal smaller than you; I lived in a small town in Vermont. There was a large creek by the village, and at a place called ‘The Mills' there was a beautiful fall of water, of ten or twelve feet, pitching off from an even-edged, flat rock. Reaching quite across the creek, a distance of twenty feet, over this fall of water, was a bridge spanning the stream.

"The sides of this bridge were boarded up some four feet high. These sidepieces were capped by a fiat railing of boards from four to six inches wide. Some of the more daring schoolchildren used to walk on this narrow capping-board when crossing the bridge, and more than one fall and serious injury happened there.

"There was one thing that saved me from getting hurt or killed by the dangerous crossing. You would like to know what it was? The easiest thing in the world. It happened from the small circumstance that I never had either the courage or the disposition to walk there at all! In other words, I wasn't `sure' of my head, and I was sure on the broad, open bridge.

"I can think of a great many places that boys and men try to pass safely which are quite as dangerous, and where multitudes fall and ruin themselves, and perhaps perish, both soul and body, forever. The safest way is never to take the first step on 'a dangerous path.’"





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