Little Scotch Granite

Burt and Johnnie Lee were delighted when their Scotch cousin came to live with them. He was little, but very bright and full of fun. He could tell curious things about his home in Scotland, and his voyage across the ocean. He was as far advanced in his studies as they were, and the first day he went to school they thought him remarkably good. He wasted no time in play when he should have been studying, and he advanced quickly.

At night, before the close of the school, the teacher called the roll, and the boys began to answer, "Ten." When Willie understood that he was to say "ten" if he had not whispered during the day, he replied, "I have whispered."

"More than once?" asked the teacher.

"Yes, sir," answered Willie.

"As many as ten times?"

"Maybe I have," faltered Willie.

"Then I shall mark you zero," said the teacher, sternly; "and that is a great disgrace."

"Why, I did not see you whisper once," said Johnnie, that night after school.

"Well, I did," said Willie. "I saw others doing it, and so I asked to borrow a book; then I lent a slate pencil, and asked for a knife, and did several such things. I supposed it was permitted."

"Oh, but we all do it." said Burt, reddening. "There isn’t any sense in the old rule; and nobody could keep it; nobody does."

"I will, or else I will say I haven’t," said Willie. "Do you suppose I would tell ten lies in one heap?"

"Oh, we don’t call them lies," muttered Johnnie. "There wouldn’t be a credit among us at night if we were so strict."

"What of that if you told the truth?" laughed Willie bravely.

In short time the boys all saw how it was with him. He studied hard, played when it was time to play; but, according to his account, he lost more credit than any of the rest. After some weeks, the boys answered "Nine" and "Eight" more often than they used to. Yet the schoolroom seemed to have grown quieter. Sometimes, when Willie Grant’s mark was even lower than usual, the teacher would smile peculiarly, but said no more of disgrace. Willie never preached at them or told tales; but somehow it made the boys ashamed of themselves, just seeing that this sturdy blue-eyed boy must tell the truth. It was putting the clean cloth by the half-soiled one, you see; and they felt like cheats and storytellers. They stalked him all over, and loved him, and they nicknamed him "Scotch Granite," since he was so firm about a promise.

Well, at the end of the term, Willie’s name was very low down on the credit list. When it was read, he had hard work not to cry; for he was very sensitive, and he had tried hard to be perfect. But the very last thing that day was a speech by the teacher, who told of once seeing a man muffled up in a cloak. He was passing him without a look, when he was told the man was a General, a great hero.

"The signs of his rank were hidden, but the hero was there just the same," said the teacher. "And now, boys, you will see what I mean when I give a little gold medal to the most conscientiously perfect in his department among you. Who shall have it?"

"Little Scotch Granite!" shouted forty boys at once; for the child whose name was so "low" on the credit list had made truth noble in their eyes. "A poor man is better than a liar."

"Remove from me the way of lying; and grant me Thy law graciously" (Psalm 119:29). "I hate and abhor lying; but Thy law I love" (Psalm 119:163). "Set a watch, 0 Lord, before my mouth: Keep the doors of my lips" (Psalm 141:3).