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Laura E. Richards

The Baby

dropcap image MAN sat by the door of his house, smoking his pipe; and his neighbor (who was an enemy, though neither of them knew it), sat beside him and tempted him.

"You are poor and out of work," said the neighbor, "and here is a way of bettering yourself. It will be an easy job, and will bring you in money; and it is no more dishonest than many things that are done every day by respectable people. You will be a fool to throw away such a chance as this; come with me, and we will settle the matter."

And the man listened.

Just then his young wife came to the door of the cottage; she was warm and rosy, for she had been washing, and she had the baby in her arms.

"Will you hold Baby for a few minutes, John?" she asked. "He is fretful, and I must hang out the clothes."

The man took the baby and held it on his knees; and as he held it, the child looked up in his face and spoke.

"Flesh of your flesh!" said the baby; "soul of your soul! what you sow I shall reap, and where you lead I shall follow. Lead the way, father, for my feet come after yours."

Then the man said to the neighbor, "Go, and come here no more!"

He rocked the baby on his knees, and whistled a tune; presently his wife came out and took the child.

"Baby, Baby," she said; "how could you cry when father was holding you? such a father as you have, too! mind you grow up as good a man as he is!"

And she went into the house, singing to the child as she went.