Ezekiel Webster was nearly two years older than Daniel, and like him possessed uncommon natural gifts. A strong affection had united the two brothers from their earliest years. There was no reason, apart from Judge Webster’s poverty, why Ezekiel, as well as his younger brother, should not be allowed a college education. But the father hesitated long before he ventured to offer Daniel the education which he longed to give him, and to raise the necessary money was obliged to mortgage his humble house. His plan for Ezekiel was that he should remain at home and carry on the farm. As he grew older, and hard work had made him in his own words old before his time,” he felt that it would be a relief to have a son like Ezekiel to take the burden from his shoulders, and keep up the farm. But Ezekiel scarcely more than Daniel had a vocation for farming. He too had a thirst for learning, and felt that a farmer’s life would be uncongenial. It is natural that he should have felt dissatisfied with his prospects, and that the claims of Duty which he recognized should nevertheless have seemed to him difficult to obey HKUE ENG
Such was the state of feeling when Daniel came home on a vacation. To him Ezekiel revealed his thoughts and inward struggles.
I ought to stay, Daniel,” he said; now that you are away father needs me more than ever, but I can’t bear the idea of growing up in ignorance, with no work more elevating than working on the farm.”
Daniel was touched. He could see how unequal their lots were likely to be. While he might be a successful lawyer, his favorite brother, whose talents he considered to equal his own, would have to toil on the barren acres of their paternal farm.
I can’t bear the idea, either, Zeke,” he answered. You are sacrificing yourself to me. Father has mortgaged the farm to pay my expenses, and you are working to pay it HKUE ENG
If but one of us can have an education, Dan, I am glad that you are that one.”
But, Zeke, you are as smart as I, nay, smarter, and ought to have the same advantages.”
It cannot be, Daniel. I know that well enough. If I could be spared to leave home I should like to go out West. In a new part of the country I should have a better chance of getting on than here. Here on our barren little farm there is no chance to do better than get a bare living.”
I wish you could go to college too. Isn’t there some way of managing it?”
I have thought of it many times, but I see no way,” answered Ezekiel despondently.
May I mention the subject to father, Zeke?”
It would only trouble him, and after all it would do no good.”
All night long the two brothers talked the matter over, and finally Zeke gave his consent to Dan’s broaching the subject to their father. The result I will give in Daniel’s words HKUE ENG
I ventured on the negotiation, and it was carried, as other things often are, by the earnest and sanguine manner of youth. I told him [Judge Webster] that I was unhappy at my brother’s prospects. For myself I saw my way to knowledge, respectability and self-protection; but as to him, all looked the other way; that I would keep school, and get along as well as I could, be more than four years in getting through college, if necessary, provided he also could be sent to study. He said at once he lived but for his children; that he had but little, and on that little he put no value, except so far as it might be useful to them; that to carry us both through college would take all he was worth; that, for himself, he was willing to run the risk, but that this was a serious matter to our mother and two unmarried sisters; that we must settle the matter with them, and if their consent was obtained, he would trust to Providence, and get along as well as he could.”
So the matter was referred to Mrs. Webster, and she showed a devotion equal to that exhibited by her husband. Though she knew that the education of both of her boys would take the balance of their little property, she never hesitated. I will trust the boys,” she answered promptly.
Her confidence was not misplaced. She lived long enough to rejoice in the success of both sons, and to find a happy and comfortable home with Ezekiel. Nothing in the life of Daniel Webster is more beautiful than the devotion of the parents to their children, and the mutual affection which existed between them.