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Patrick Henry
by [?]

And one was an eagle.

Why this was so no one knew–the mother didn’t know and the father could not guess. All of them were born under about the same conditions, all received about the same training–or lack of it.

However, no one at first suspected that the eagle was an eagle–more than a score of years were to pass before he was suddenly to spread out strong, sinewy wings and soar to the ether.

Patrick Henry caused his parents more trouble and anxiety than all the rest of the family combined. Patrick and culture had nothing in common. As a youngster he roamed the woods, bare of foot and bare of head, his only garments a shirt and trousers held in place by a single gallus. He was indolent, dreamy, procrastinating, frolicsome, with a beautiful aversion to books, and a fondness for fishing that was carried to the limit. The boy’s mother didn’t worry very much about the youngster, but the father had spells when he took the matter to the Lord in prayer, and afterward, growing impatient of an answer, fell to and used the taws without mercy. John Henry probably did this as much to relieve his own feelings as for the good of the boy, but doubtless he did not reason quite that far.

Patrick nursed his black-and-blue spots and fell back on his flute for solace.

After one such seance, when he was twelve years of age, he disappeared with a colored boy about his own age. They took a shotgun, fishing-tackle and a violin. They were gone three weeks, during which time Patrick had not been out of his clothes, nor once washed his face. They had slept out under the sky by campfires. The smell of smoke was surely on his garments, and his parents were put to their wits to distinguish between the bond and the free.

Had Patrick been an only child he would have driven his mother into hysteria and his father to the flowing bowl (I trust I use the right expression). If not this, then it would have been because the fond parents had found peace by transforming their son into a Little Lord Fauntleroy. Nature shows great wisdom in sending the young in litters–they educate each other, and so divide the time of the mother that attention to the individual is limited to the actual needs. Too much interference with children is a grave mistake.

Patrick Henry quit school at fifteen, with a love for ‘rithmetic–it was such a fine puzzle–and an equal regard for history–history was a lot o’ good stories. For two years he rode wild horses, tramped the woods with rod and gun, and played the violin at country dances.

Another spasm of fear, chagrin and discouragement sweeping over the father, on account of the indifference and profligacy of his son, he decided to try the youth in trade, and if this failed, to let him go to the devil. So a stock of general goods was purchased, and Patrick and William, the elder brother, were shoved off upon the uncertain sea of commerce.

The result was just what might have been expected. The store was a loafing-place for all the ne’er-do-wells in the vicinity. Patrick trusted everybody–those who could not get trusted elsewhere patronized Patrick.

Things grew worse. In a year, when just eighteen years old, P. Henry, Junior, got married–married a rollicking country lass, as foolish as himself–done in bravado, going home from a dance, calling a minister out on his porch, in a crazy-quilt, to perform the ceremony. John Henry would have applied the birch to this hare-brained bridegroom, and the father of the girl would have stung her pink-and-white anatomy, but Patrick coolly explained that the matter could not be undone–they were duly married for better or for worse, and so the less fuss the better. Patrick loved his Doxey, and Doxey loved her Patrick, and together they made as precious a pair of beggars as ever played Gipsy music at a country fair.