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No and Other Stories Compiled by Uncle Humphrey

by Various

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"There is a word, my son, a very little word, in the English language, the right use of which it is all important that you should learn," Mr. Howland said to his son Thomas, who was about leaving the paternal roof for a residence in a neighboring city, never again, perchance, to make one of the little circle that had so long gathered in the family homestead.

"And what word is that, father?" Thomas asked.

"It is the little word No, my son."

"And why does so much importance attach to that word, father?"

"Perhaps I can make you understand the reason much better if I relate an incident that occurred when I was a boy. I remember it as distinctly as if it had taken place but yesterday, although thirty years have since passed. There was a neighbor of my father's, who was very fond of gunning and fishing. On several occasions I had accompanied him, and had enjoyed myself very much. One day my father said to me,

"'William, I do not wish you to go into the woods or on the water again with Mr. Jones.'

"'Why not, father?' I asked, for I had become so fond of going with him, that to be denied the pleasure was a real privation.

"'I have good reasons for not wishing you to go, William,' my father replied, 'but do not want to give them now. I hope it is all-sufficient for you, that your father desires you not to accompany Mr. Jones again.'

"I could not understand why my father laid upon me this prohibition; and, as I desired very much to go, I did not feel satisfied in my obedience. On the next day, as I was walking along the road, I met Mr. Jones with his fishing rod on his shoulder, and his basket in his hand.

"'Ah, William! you are the very one that I wish to see,' said Mr. Jones smiling. 'I am going out this morning, and want company. We shall have a beautiful day.'

"'But my father told me yesterday,' I replied, 'that he did not wish me to go out with you.'

"'And why not, pray?' asked Mr. Jones.

"'I am sure that I do not know,' I said, 'but indeed, I should like to go very much.'

"'O, never mind; come along,' he said, 'Your father will never know it.'

"'Yes, but I am afraid that he will,' I replied, thinking more of my father's displeasure than of the evil of disobedience.

"'There is no danger at all of that. We will be home again long before dinner-time.'

"I hesitated, and he urged; and finally, I moved the way that he was going, and had proceeded a few hundred yards, when I stopped, and said:

"'I don't like to go, Mr. Jones.'

"'Nonsense, William! There is no harm in fishing, I am sure. I have often been out with your father, myself.'

"Much as I felt inclined to go, still I hesitated; for I could not fully make up my mind to disobey my father.—At length he said—

"'I can't wait here for you, William. Come along, or go back. Say yes or no.'

"This was the decisive moment. I was to make up my mind, and fix my determination in one way or the other. I was to say yes or NO."

"'Come, I can't stay here all day,' Mr. Jones remarked, rather harshly, seeing that I hesitated....