Dan and Zeke

Dan and Zeke

Bob's AND Patsy's father was driving them through the White Mountains in New Hampshire one July day.

"Now that we have seen the Old Man of the Mountain," Bob said, referring to the great stone image of a man's face made by the wind cutting the rocks high up on the mountain, "where do we go next and what will we see?"

"Well," said Dad, who always wanted his children to know something about the great men of our country, "how would you like to visit a little farmhouse on one of the country roads through the woods, if I promise to tell you a story about a famous American who was born there?"

"I would," said Patsy, "if you tell us his name."

"I would, too," said Bob, "if you will tell us something about him when he was a boy."

"Simple enough," said Dad. "The story is really about Daniel, although I must also tell you a little about his brother Ezekiel. I suppose you know that here in New England, in the early days of our country's history, parents usually gave Bible names to their children."

Just then the automobile gave a lurch around the corner, went over a bump in the road, and came to a stop in the dirt driveway which led to an old red, weather-beaten farmhouse.

"Now this is the farm where Daniel was born and grew up," said Dad. "You can see that his father was a very poor farmer. He and his boys, Daniel and Ezekiel, had to work very hard from sunup to sundown each day trying to scrabble a living off this rocky land and thin soil.

"Daniel soon saw that he wouldn't go very far, for he had great ambition, if he always lived on this farm. He would just grow up to be a poor farmer on a poor farm. Daniel wanted to go to college and become a great man for his country. Just to make sure that his father knew that he intended to make something of himself someday, Daniel painted a sign on a board and nailed it up in the cherry tree near the barn where his father would read it. This is what the sign said: 'I will not always be a farmer.'

"Daniel dreamed of leading men, of speaking before great audiĀ­ences, and of going to our nation's capital as a statesman. But he was a regular boy with his share of mischievousness in his make-up. One day his father had left some work for Ezekiel and Daniel to do on the farm. The father came back and found that his boys had not done the work.

"'What have you been doing, Ezekiel?' asked the father angrily. "'Nothing, sir,' answered Zeke.

"The father then turned to Daniel. 'Well, Daniel,' he asked, 'what have you been doing?'

"'Helping Zeke,' said Daniel with a grin.

"The father laughed, too, and set the boys to work.

"Daniel's teacher found him very bright in school in more ways than one. One day the teacher saw how dirty Daniel's hand was. He called him to his desk before the whole school and said, 'Hold out your right hand.' Daniel held out his right hand to receive the hard blows of the teacher's rattan.

"'Daniel; said the teacher, 'if you can show me anywhere in this world any hand dirtier than your right hand, I will let you off.'

"Daniel immediately pulled out his other hand from behind his back and showed that to the teacher. He got off.

"Early in life Daniel came to know the Bible well. And one reason why he became a great orator was because he knew the Bible so well and loved it. His teacher, Mr. Tappen, taught the Bible in the country schoolhouse. One Friday the teacher asked his scholars to try to see how many Bible verses they could commit to memory by Monday morning.

"Daniel recited over seventy verses. When the teacher said that was more than enough, Daniel was crestfallen, for he had a dozen more chapters he had memorized to recite. The teacher was amazed.

"Daniel so loved the Bible that he liked to memorize whole chapters and psalms. As a boy, Daniel became such a fine reader of the Bible that in the country hotels or inns nearby, the overnight guests and the teamsters as they pulled up to the door would say, 'Come, let us go inside and hear Daniel recite us some psalms.'

"Because he was so keen-minded, Daniel saw how interesting and beautiful the Bible is. He made its language and verses a part of his everyday speech as a citizen, a lawyer, and a great orator. When he became America's most famous orator, he said, 'If there is anything in my style or thoughts to be commended, the credit is due my kind parents who instilled into my mind at an early age a love of the Scriptures.' "

"But what was Daniel's last name?" Bob asked his father.

"Yes," said Patsy, "you haven't told us who Daniel became."

"Sure enough," said Dad. "This was Daniel Webster, one of America's greatest senators, orators, and statesmen. His fame spread far and wide over America, but though he became so famous, he never lost his love for the Bible. And in his last will and testament he ordered written on his tombstone words expressing his undying love for the Book: "Lord, I Believe: Help Thou My Unbelief."

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