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"Not particularly; I have met him."

"Is he a young man of standing and good habits?" "He is. It is said that he is very talented, and that he wrote for the press in Boston before he came to Philadelphia."

"Is that so?" responded the captain, to conceal that he was any acquaintance of his.

"Yes; and, as a matter of course, such a young man is much thought of. He is not set up at all, but appears to be modest and unassuming. He is very much liked by all." 66 Do you think he means to make Philadelphia his home in the future?"

"That is what he intends, as I understand it.”

In this way, Captain Homes gained whatever information he wanted, without disclosing that Benjamin Franklin was his brother-in-law. Then he embraced the first opportunity to write and forward to him the following letter from Newcastle :

"DEAR BROTHER,-I have just learned from a citizen of Philadelphia that you reside in that town. It is the first knowledge that any of us have had of your whereabouts since you ran away from Boston. You can have no idea of the sorrow you caused the family by your unwise and thoughtless act. It well nigh broke your mother's heart, and added several years to your father's appearance. But I write to advise and entreat you to return to Boston. I am confident that your parents and all other friends, will receive you with open arms, forgetting the past in their joy over your presence. They do not know even that you are alive; and your return will be to them as one risen from the dead. I trust that this letter will find you well, and disposed to heed my advice, and go back to Boston. It will be the best thing for you and the whole family. Let me hear from you; direct your letter to this place; if sent at once it will reach me here.

"Yours affectionately,


The reader may very properly infer that Benjamin was taken by surprise by this letter. Now his friends would know where he was. How did Captain Homes discover his place of residence? This question kept uppermost in his mind. His letter did not tell. Benjamin pondered the matter through the day, and finally resolved to answer it squarely and promptly in the evening. That night he wrote the following:


"Dear Brother, I received your letter to-day, and it was a genuine surprise to me. How in the world you discovered my whereabouts is a mystery to me; but it is all well and will turn out for the best, no doubt. To answer your letter affords me an opportunity to state exactly the cause of my sudden departure from Boston, which I do not think you understand. The sole cause of my leaving was the unjust and harsh treatment of James. Instead of seeing in me a brother, he saw only an apprentice, indentured to him until I was twenty-one, over whom he held the iron-rod of a master, and from whom he expected the most servile obedience. At times I may have been saucy and provoking, but it was when I was receiving more than flesh and blood could bear. For, in letting loose his violent temper, he not only lashed me unmercifully with his tongue, but he resorted to blows; and you ought to know enough of the Franklins by this time to understand that no one of them would submit to such oppression. Then, to cap the climax, father, who had always sided with me whenever our difficulties was laid before him, now gave his decision, for some reason, in favour of James. That was the last straw on the camel's back. Nothing but harsh treatment by a master, who asserted his rights under the law, awaited me. To remain was to be trod upon, and suffer, and become a slave instead of a man. To leave was impossible, unless I left clandestinely. For many days a mighty contest was waged in my soul between love of home and escape from a bondage as bad as Negro slavery. After all I had done for James, in his great trouble with the Government, that he should treat me, his own brother, as a menial to be abused, seemed hard indeed. Under such a burden of trial, scarcely knowing

whither to look for a friend, I resolved to escape, and I do not now regret the step. I knew that I should be misjudged-that I should be called a runaway, and thought to be on the road to ruin. But I am not. I mean to make the most of myself possible. I am now among good friends, who kindly second all my efforts at self-improvement, and my business prospects were never so good. If industry, economy, temperance, honesty, and perseverance will win, then I shall win; you may be sure of that.

"Yours affectionately,


Captain Homes was a strong, good man, used to roughing it in a seafaring life; but when he read Benjamin's letter, tears stood in his eyes, and his lips quivered with emotion, as his great heart went out in sympathy for his wife's young brother.


Read that letter," he said to Governor Keith, who was present," and then I will tell you about the author of it." Governor Keith read it, with moistened eyes, although he was a stranger to the writer and his romantic history. "A touching letter," he remarked, returning it the captain. "The author of it is my wife's youngest brother, only a boy now."

"How old?" inquired the governor.


Only seventeen."

Indeed, he must be a remarkable boy."

"He is. The most gifted boy ever raised in Boston." "Then he ran away from Boston?"

"Yes; his father's family is a prominent one in the city, and an older son is a printer, to whom this youngest son was apprenticed."

"I see now," responded the governor. "That explains the letter. And he is settled now in Philadelphia?"

"He is. I accidentally learned where he was, a few days ago, and wrote to him; and this letter is his answer. Let me tell you more about him.” And the captain

rehearsed his connection with the Courant, as correspondent and editor, dwelling upon his ability and power as an independent thinker, capable of canvassing and writing upon almost any public question.

"Remarkable, for one so young!" exclaimed the governor, after listening to the detailed account. "Such a young man should be encouraged in his business."

"So I think," responded the captain. "His letter has opened my eyes, and I see now that he had good reason to run away. I believe that he will make his mark, live where he may."

"Of course he will," replied the governor.

"His success is certain, only give him a chance. I will assist him to establish a printing house of his own in Philadelphia, and he shall have the Government printing to do."

"He is abundantly qualified to do it, and I think any aid of that sort you can give him will be for your interest as well as his. He is reliable and will do his best." The captain said this in the honesty of his heart, having a strong desire to see Benjamin rise.

"We have two printing houses in Philadelphia now; but they are poor affairs," continued the governor. "Neither proprietor understands his business, and one of them is very ignorant. I think that this young man would take the lead at once."

"I think that I can secure the Government printing of Delaware for him," interrupted Colonel French, of Newcastle, who had listened to the conversation with the deepest interest.


Captain Homes, I will see your brother-in-law as soon as I return to Philadelphia,” added Governor Keith. "We must not let such a young man be buried up in a one-horse printing house."

"I am going to Philadelphia with the governor," interjected Colonel French, "and I will accompany him to see the young man.”

"I thank you both very much, and I think that neither of you will ever regret your decision." Captain Homes spoke so warmly and approvingly that both governor and colonel felt reassured as they separated.

The foregoing discloses two good traits of Benjamin's character, which the reader may consider with profit. First, he must have been very observing. He understood the construction of a printing-press so well, that he could put an old one into running order, young as he was, when its proprietor was unable to do it. This is more remarkable, because he was not obliged to study the mechanism of a printing-press in order to work it. Many persons operate machines without understanding their construction at all. But a class of minds are never satisfied until they understand whatever commands their attention. They are inquisitive, and wish to know the philosophy of things. It was so with Benjamin; and this quality proved a valuable element of his success. It was the secret of his discoveries and inventions in his manhood, as we shall see, just as it was with Stephenson. As soon as he was appointed plugman of an engine, at seventeen years of age, he began to study its construction. In his leisure hours, he took it to pieces, and put it together again several times, in order to understand it.

In the second place, Benjamin was not proud. “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." He never came under this condemnation. A sight of him passing up Market Street, with a loaf of bread under each arm, while devouring the third one in his hand, in apparel that was less comely than that of many modern tramps, is proof that pride had no dominion over him. Many boys of seventeen, in such poverty and apparel, would have avoided a public street, and even a Quaker meeting-house. But these were small matters to Benjamin. He was thinking of greater things-employment and a livelihood. He had a destiny to work out, and in working that he must do as he

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