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listening to their remarks, and this created a desire to read and learn more; and so they were started off in a career that "led them on to fame." Their early advantages were few, but the conversation of educated gentlemen, upon important subjects, laid the foundation of their eminence in public life.
Benjamin was young, and his heart easily impressed, when he listened to profitable conversation in the home of his boyhood. The way the twig is bent the tree is inclined. His father gave the twig the right bent, and the tree was comely and fruitful. It was a very easy and cheap mode of instruction, always at hand, needing neither text book nor blackboard, yet pleasant and uplifting.
LEADER OF SPORTS AND THOUGHT.
T is unusual that the same boy should be a leader in
nearly all innocent sports, and, at the same time, the most thoughtful and studious boy of all. Generally, the fun-loving youth is an indifferent scholar,-having little taste for reading and study. But it was otherwise with Benjamin. He was as much of an expert in sport as he was in reading, -the best jumper, runner, swimmer, and rower of his age in Boston. And he enjoyed it, too. Perhaps he enjoyed being the best more than any part of the sport. Certainly, when he was in school, he enjoyed being the best scholar more than any part of a pupil's experience; and he so managed to continue the best to the end, though the end came much too soon for him.
Swimming was his favourite sport. It was claimed for him that, any time between twelve and sixteen years of age, he could have swam across the Hellespont. Here, as well as elsewhere, his inventive genius was devising ways to promote more rapid swimming.
"I believe that I can double my speed in swimming by an invention I have in mind," he said to John Collins, one day.
"What sort of an invention? You are always up to something of that sort. I think that arms and legs are all the invention that will ever promote swimming, slow or fast."
"Well, you see, John, if I don't invent something to
greatly increase speed in swimming," continued Benjamin. "I have been studying on it for some time, and I think I have it."
"You don't need anything to increase your speed, Ben; you can beat everybody now, and you ought to be satisfied with that."
"I am not satisfied. I want to do better yet. I never did so well in anything yet that I did not want to do better." Right here was really the secret of Benjamin's success,trying to do better to-morrow than to-day, not satisfied with present attainments, pressing forward to something more desirable, going up higher. Such boys and girls succeed. Difficulties do not alarm or discourage them-they serve to draw them out and make them more invincible. But youth who are satisfied to be just what they are to-day, no larger, broader, or better, live and die mere ciphers. They are destitute of ambition and the spirit of enterprise. They have no just conception of their mission in this world. They do not understand themselves,-what they are for and what they can be if they choose. What is worse, they have no desire to know these things; the effort to know them is too much for their easy, indifferent natures.
"I guess that is so," replied John, to Benjamin's last remark. "I never saw a boy just like you; and I think you are right. I want to know more than I do about many things, and I mean to. But what sort of swimming apparatus have you in mind?"
'Well, a sort of palette for the hands and sandals for the feet, fastened tightly so as to be used readily. I have an idea that I can throw myself forward with far greater speed."
"I will wait to see it before I pass judgment on it," answered John. "It is risking more than I want to risk to say you can't do it; for there is no telling what you can do."
"You will see it in a few days; it will not take long to make it. I will notify you when it is ready, and we will try
it. In the meantime keep it a secret, and we will astonish the boys."
Within a few days John Collins was notified that the swimming apparatus was ready, and would be tried at a certain time appointed. Other boys were invited to meet at the pond at the same time.
Benjamin appeared on the scene with two oval palettes of wood, resembling those used by painters, ten inches long and six broad. A hole was cut in each for the thumb, so that they could be bound to the palms of the hands. A kind of sandal, shaped somewhat like the palettes, was fastened tightly to each foot. When rigged for a swim, Benjamin presented a very singular appearance, and the boys looked on astonished.
"That is you, all over, Ben," exclaimed Fred; "no one in creation except you would ever have thought of such an apparatus. But I wouldn't wish myself in the water with such a rig. You are a sort of skipper on legs now."
"I don't expect to skip much on the water, but I expect to swim much faster with this device than would be possible without it,” replied Benjamin.
"It is different from what I thought it was from your description," said John Collins, who had been looking⚫ on with particular interest. "It looks as if you might do something with it. Go ahead, Ben, sink or swim, spread your sails and prove that your ingenuity is genuine."
Benjamin plunged into the water, and a more interested and excited company did not watch Robert Fulton when he started up Hudson River with his new steamer, eighty years later, than watched him with his new mode of swimming. He struck right out into deep water easily, and moved forward much more rapidly than he ever did before, the cheers and shouts of the boys making the welkin ring. Taking a circuit around the pond for a trial, the boys had a good opportunity to watch every movement and to judge of the practicability of such an invention.
"That is wonderful," exclaimed one, as he came around to the shore where they stood.
"You are a genius, Ben," shouted another.
Capital," added John Collins. "King George ought to make a duke of you. But does it work easy?
"Not so easily as I expected," answered Benjamin. "The apparatus is hard on the wrists, and makes them ache. The sandals on the feet do not help much. I think I could swim just as well without them."
"Then you do not consider it a complete success?" said John, inquiringly.
"Not entirely so. I can swim very much faster with it, but it is harder work, and the wrists will not hold out long. I don't think I shall apply to King George for a patent."
The swimming invention was pretty thoroughly discussed by the boys, one and another suggesting improvements, Benjamin evidently satisfied that swimming at less. speed in the usual way was preferable to these artificial paddles and increased rapidity. But their interest was awakened anew when Benjamin informed them that he had another invention that he proposed to try at a future day.
"What is it?" inquired two or three at the same time. "You shall see; it is more simple than this apparatus," replied Benjamin. "It will not be so tiresome to use."
"When will you let us see it on trial?" asked John Collins, who, perhaps, appreciated Benjamin's spirit and talents more than any of the boys.
"Any time you will all agree to be here. You will not know what it is until you see it."
The time was appointed for the trial of the unknown device, and the boys separated with their curiosity on tiptoe as to the nature of the other improved method of swimming. They had no idea that it was a humbug, for "Ben" never practised shams. He was so much of a