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But they were so frightened, that they could do nothing. Robert got a long pole, and slid it along on the ice, till the end of it reached the boy. He called to him to take hold of the pole and raise himself by it, and in that way the ice would bear him. Robert held the other end, and by great exertions the boy got out safe. It was Ned Field.
"O Robert," said he, "if it had not been for you I should have been drowned."
Ned was so chilled by being long in the cold water, that he was obliged to be carried into a house and put to bed. He was very sick. But when Robert was going away, he called him back, and said,
"O Robert, you have saved my life; and yet how wicked I have been to you! I thought you was stingy and proud, and so I hated you, and tried to tease you. I spoiled your basket on purpose to plague you, and said you stole the half-dollar when I stole it myself. And now you have saved my life!"
Robert went home with a lighter heart, and told his mother what had happened, and what Ned had said. She told him to observe how God punished the wicked boy, and how unhappy he now must be.
"But perhaps he will be the better for it as long as he lives," she said.
“I dare say he will," said Robert. And as long as Ned was sick, he every day went to see him, and did kind things for him; so that Ned came at last to love him very much. He told every body that Robert was innocent, and for that every body was glad; for all who knew him loved him. They also forgave Ned, because he was penitent; and when he got well, he was ever after a better boy.
Mr. Jones came to see Robert, and shook him heartily by
the hand, and promised to do something which should reward him for his sufferings. He kept his promise; and Robert grew to be a very respectable and excellent man. And as long as he lived, he never forgot the lesson he had learned - to trust Providence even in the darkest hour, and to be always obliging and kind.
"If he had properly a worldly ambition for any thing, it was for the fame of a poet. He had constantly in view great objects to accomplish, and he therefore derived the greatest satisfaction from those employments which promoted them. But, apart from this source of interest, he took more pleasure in poetical composition than in any other occupation; and, although he indulged himself in it but little, it was an occupation more to his original taste than any other. When his mind was entirely unbent, when he had no immediate purpose to accomplish, as in travelling, or in sickness, he almost instinctively turned to poetry for rest or refreshment. But, with this strong love for it, it was, after all, only an accident in his life. He has only left enough to show of what he was capable, had he not been so exclusively occupied with what, in his view, had higher claims on his attention.”—Life of Henry Ware, Jr. p. 468.