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"A Fine, Generous Fellow"
by [?]

MY friend Peyton was what is called a “fine, generous fellow.” He valued money only as a means of obtaining what he desired, and was always ready to spend it with an acquaintance for mutual gratification. Of course, he was a general favourite. Every one spoke well of him, and few hesitated to give his ears the benefit of their good opinion. I was first introduced to him when he was in the neighbourhood of twenty-two years of age. Peyton was then a clerk in the receipt of six hundred dollars a year. He grasped my hand with an air of frankness and sincerity, that at once installed him in my good opinion. A little pleasure excursion was upon the tapis, and he insisted upon my joining it. I readily consented. There were five of us, and the expense to each, if borne mutually, would have been something like one dollar. Peyton managed every thing, even to paying the bills; and when I offered to repay him my proportion, he said–

“No, no!”–pushing back my hand–“nonsense!”

“Yes; but I must insist upon meeting my share of the expense.”

“Not a word more. The bill’s settled, and you needn’t trouble your head about it,” was his reply; and he seemed half offended when I still urged upon him to take my portion of the cost.

“What a fine, generous fellow Peyton is!” said one of the party to me, as we met on the next day.

“Did he also refuse to let you share in the expense of our excursion?” I asked.

“After what he said to you, I was afraid of offending him by proposing to do so.”

“He certainly is generous–but, I think, to a fault, if I saw a fair specimen of his generosity yesterday.”

“We should be just, as well as generous.”

“I never heard that he was not just.”

“Nor I. But I think he was not just to himself. And I believe it will be found to appear in the end, that, if we are not just to ourselves, we will, somewhere in life, prove unjust to others. I think that his salary is not over twelve dollars a week. If he bore the whole expense of our pleasure excursion, it cost him within a fraction of half his earnings for a week. Had we all shared alike, it would not have been a serious matter to either of us.”

“Oh! as to that, it is no very serious matter to him. He will never think of it.”

“But, if he does so very frequently, he may feel it sooner or later,” I replied.

“I’m sure I don’t know any thing about that,” was returned. “He is a generous fellow, and I cannot but like him. Indeed, every one likes him.”

A few evenings afterwards I met Peyton again.

“Come, let us have some oysters,” said he.

I did not object. We went to an oyster-house, and ate and drank as much as our appetites craved. He paid the bill!

Same days afterwards, I fell in with him again, and, in order to retaliate a little, invited him to go and get some refreshments with me. He consented. When I put my hand in my pocket to pay for them, his hand went into his. But I was too quick for him. He seemed uneasy about it. He could feel pleased while giving, but it evidently worried him to be the recipient.

From that time, for some years, I was intimate with the young man. I found that he set no true value upon money. He spent it freely with every one; and every one spoke well of him. “What a generous, whole-souled fellow he is!” or, “What a noble heart he has!” were the expressions constantly made in regard to him. While “Mean fellow!” “Miserly dog!” and other such epithets, were unsparingly used in speaking of a quiet, thoughtful young man, named Merwin, who was clerk with him in the same store. Merwin appeared to set an undue value upon money. He rarely indulged himself in any way, and it was with difficulty that he could ever be induced to join in any pleasures that involved expense. But I always observed that when he did so, he was exact about paying his proportion.