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68 CHAPTER XIII. The Son, another character from life.—In company with a friend I visit Madame Seligny’s. tom peterson was about the cleverest, finest, manliest fellow I ever knew; and I think as true a friend, at heart, as young men often meet with. Tom had all the best qualities of the hero of my childish admiration, mentioned aforetime as Billjiggs; added to which he possessed the cultivation which results from going to school, mixing a good deal with fellows, seeing life as it is to be seen in a great city like New York, and, most of all, from a warm generous heart, and a disposition to the enjoyment of life. His temper was happy and cheerful; his laugh, when he opened his mouth, and showed those great white teeth, was real music, that you couldn’t get from fiddles or pianos. And when he laughed heartily, it was impossible not to think of the sunshine, or something of that sort. Tom was a handsome dog withal, and used to take the feather out of my cap a little too often for my equanimity, in our acquaintance among the girls. But then he was always 69 so good-natured about it, and not a bit vain or greedy, that one couldn’t remain angry long. All my boyish confidences, and troubles and revenges and speculations, were known to Tom Peterson—I wonder that I haven’t introduced him in this writing before. He saved my life once, when I was learning to swim. I had jumped overboard, like a fool, on the assurance of some Johnny Raw that once in deep water I would be certain to swim to the shore, when I found there was no other way of reaching it. Without Tom’s efficient services then, there would never have appeared this entertaining history. We never had a fight or a quarrel together, which is a pretty strange thing for boys. It was more to my friend’s credit than mine, too; when I showed anything like irritation or bad temper he would take refuge in silence, and in his own amiability. And he was amiable, without being the least bit of a coward; his tendency to peace and good will was part of a nature that could be brave as a lion when the occasion demanded. The Lord love you, Tom Peterson, wherever you are this day! As far as I remember, you hated nothing which He has made. What a blockhead old Peterson was to whine and mourn out his complaints over the sinful nature of this son! If a man couldn’t be proud of such a son as Tom Peterson, he must be hard to please. Tom sinful! why he hadn’t a drop of bad blood in his great broad-shouldered body! But so thought not Calvin, the father. Especially was he horrified at Tom’s intimacy with a lady, whose name he 70 didn’t know, but whose nature he felt sure, so the really grieved and unhappy old man told me, was next worst to the Prince of Darkness himself. For the alarmed father sought me out, knowing my friendship with Tom, and supposing I had influence over him; he sought me out and told me that the young man was sometimes absent from home all night, and, as near as could be found out, he spent his time in a splendid and seductive gambling house, kept by an old Jewess and her daughter, in great style, up town. I really felt sorry for Peterson, although I could not promise to interfere, any further than to give Tom a chance to explain the matter, if he thought fit. At the same time, I comforted the grieved man, by reminding him how unlikely the story seemed. Tom was no saint, we all knew; but he had been equally free from any thing like dissipation, or coarse tastes. “Have you spoken to him about these things?” I asked Calvin. “No, not a word; I had not the heart to.” It seemed to me that this was a great pity; but I knew, from what Tom himself had told me, that the father and son took such different views of things; and I forbore to advise any further. That very evening I made it my business to see Tom; and we took a walk together out into a park that lay at no great distance. I opened the subject with some...


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