While Daniel Webster was taking his course in college, there was one thing that troubled him very much. It was the thought of his brother Ezekiel toiling at home on the farm.
He knew that Ezekiel had great abilities. He knew that he was not fond of the farm, but that he was anxious to become a lawyer.
This brother had given up all his dearest plans in order that Daniel might be favored; and Daniel knew that this was so.
Once, when Daniel was at home on a vacation, he said, "Zeke, this thing is all wrong. Father has mortgaged the farm for money to pay my expenses at school, and you are making a slave of yourself to pay off the mortgage. It isn't right for me to let you do this."
Ezekiel said, "Daniel, I am stronger than you are, and if one of us has to stay on the farm, of course I am the one."
"But I want you to go to college," said Daniel. "An education will do you as much good as me."
"I doubt it," said Ezekiel; "and yet, if father was only able to send us both. I think that we might pay him back some time."
"I will see father about it this very day," said Daniel.
He did see him.
"I told my father," said Daniel, afterwards, "that I was unhappy at my brother's prospects. For myself, I saw my way to knowledge, respectability, and self-protection. But as to Ezekiel, all looked the other way. I said 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."
The matter was referred to Daniel's mother, and she and his father talked it over together. They knew that it would take all the property they had to educate both the boys. They knew that they would have to do without many comforts, and that they would have a hard struggle to make a living while the boys were studying.
But the mother said, "I will trust the boys." And it was settled that Ezekiel, too, should have a chance to make his mark in the world. He was now a grown-up man. He was tall and strong and ambitious. He entered college the very year that Daniel graduated.
As for Daniel, he was now ready to choose a profession. What should it be?
His father wanted him to become a lawyer. And so, to please his parents, he went home and began to read law in the office of a Mr. Thompson, in the little village of Salisbury, which adjoined his father's farm.
The summer passed by. It was very pleasant to have nothing to do but to read. And when the young man grew tired of reading, he could go out fishing, or could spend a day in hunting among the New Hampshire hills.
It is safe to say that he did not learn very much law during that summer.
But there was not a day that he did not think about his brother. Ezekiel had done much to help him through college, and now ought he not to help Ezekiel?
But what could he do?
He had a good education, and his first thought was that he might teach school, and thus earn a little money for Ezekiel.
The people of Fryeburg, in Maine, wanted him to take charge of the academy in their little town. And so, early in the fall, he decided to take up with their offer.
He was to have three hundred and fifty dollars for the year's work, and that would help Ezekiel a great deal.
He bade good-bye to Mr. Thompson and his little law office, and made ready to go to his new field of labor. There were no railroads at that time, and a journey of even a few miles was a great undertaking.
Daniel had bought a horse for twenty-four dollars. In one end of an old-fashioned pair of saddle-bags he put his Sunday clothes, and in the other he packed his books.
He laid the saddle-bags upon the horse, then he mounted and rode off over the hills toward Fryeburg, sixty miles away.
He was not yet quite twenty years old. He was very slender, and nearly six feet in height. His face was thin and dark. His eyes were black and bright and penetrating—no person who once saw them could ever forget them.
Young as he was, he was very successful as a teacher during that year which he spent at Fryeburg. The trustees of the academy were so highly pleased that they wanted him to stay a second year. They promised to raise his salary to five or six hundred dollars, and to give him a house and a piece of land.
He was greatly tempted to give up all further thoughts of becoming a lawyer.
"What shall I do?" he said to himself. "Shall I say, 'Yes, gentlemen,' and sit down here to spend my days in a kind of comfortable privacy?"
But his father was anxious that he should return to the study of the law. And so he was not long in making up his mind.
In a letter to one of his friends he said: "I shall make one more trial of the law in the ensuing autumn.
"If I prosecute the profession, I pray God to fortify me against its temptations. To be honest, to be capable, to be faithful to my client and my conscience."
Early the next September, he was again in Mr. Thompson's little law office. All the money that he had saved, while at Fryeburg, was spent to help Ezekiel through college.