THE TALE OF THE LOST LAND
CHAPTER 32: DOWLEY'S HUMILIATION
Dowley was in fine feather, and I early got him started, and then
adroitly worked him around onto his own history for a text and
himself for a hero, and then it was good to sit there and hear him
hum. Self-made man, you know. They know how to talk. They do
deserve more credit than any other breed of men, yes, that is true;
and they are among the very first to find it out, too. He told how
he had begun life an orphan lad without money and without friends
able to help him; how he had lived as the slaves of the meanest
master lived; how his day's work was from sixteen to eighteen hours
long, and yielded him only enough black bread to keep him in a
half-fed condition; how his faithful endeavors finally attracted
the attention of a good blacksmith, who came near knocking him
dead with kindness by suddenly offering, when he was totally
unprepared, to take him as his bound apprentice for nine years
and give him board and clothes and teach him the trade--or "mystery"
as Dowley called it. That was his first great rise, his first
gorgeous stroke of fortune; and you saw that he couldn't yet speak
of it without a sort of eloquent wonder and delight that such a
gilded promotion should have fallen to the lot of a common human
being. He got no new clothing during his apprenticeship, but on
his graduation day his master tricked him out in spang-new tow-linens
and made him feel unspeakably rich and fine.
"I remember me of that day!" the wheelwright sang out, with
"And I likewise!" cried the mason. "I would not believe they
were thine own; in faith I could not."
"Nor other!" shouted Dowley, with sparkling eyes. "I was like
to lose my character, the neighbors wending I had mayhap been
stealing. It was a great day, a great day; one forgetteth not
days like that."
Yes, and his master was a fine man, and prosperous, and always
had a great feast of meat twice in the year, and with it white
bread, true wheaten bread; in fact, lived like a lord, so to speak.
And in time Dowley succeeded to the business and married the daughter.