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AMERICAN STORIES - Judge - Part Two

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Now, the Special English programe, AMERICAN STORIES.

(MUSIC)

And our story today is called Judge. It was written by Walter D. Edmonds. Here is Harry Monroe with the final part of our story.

(MUSIC)

When Charley hastily died, he left a wife and nine children. They lived on a small piece of land and a house with 4
rooms. Since John was the oldest boy. His mother told him he would have to take care of the family. He was 16. John went to Judge Tone, the richest man in town, to collect a dollar for some corn the Judge Tone bought from John's father. Judge Tone gave him the dollar. Then he said John's father owed him some money. He said the farmer had borrowed 40 dollars. "When do you think you will pay me back the money you own me?" The Judge asked John. "I hope you won't be like your father. He said, "He was a lazy man who never worked hard."

During that summer, John worked on other people's farms all week. He worked on his own family's land every evening and all day Sunday. By the end of the summer, John had saved 5 dollars to give to the Judge. John's friend, the Indian Seth White Feather offered John a way to make money during the winter when it was too cold for farming. He said he would teach John how to hunt and trap animals for their fur. He told the boy he could earn a lot of money by doing this.

But he said John needed 75 dollars to buy a gun, traps and food for the winter in the woods.

John went to see Judge Tone, explained what he wanted to do. The Judge agreed to lend him the money he needed.

On the first day of November, John kissed his mother goodbye and left home with Seth. On his back he carried a large sack of food, a new gun and aminal traps he had bought with the Judge's money. He and the Indian walked for hours to a cabin deep in the forest. Seth had built the little house several years before. John learned a lot that winter.

He learned how to hunt, set traps for wild animals and how to live in the forest. His body grew strong as the forest
tested his strength and let him brave. John trapped a lot of animals and early March, his pile of animals' skins was
almost as tall as he was. Seth said John should get at least 200 dollars for his first. John was ready to go home but
Seth wanted to continue hunting until April. So John decided to go home by himself. Seth helped John pack his fur and traps so he could carried them on his back. Then Seth said: "Now listen to me. When you cross the river, do not walk on the ice. It is very thin now. Find a place where the ice has melted, then tie some logs together. You can float on them across the river. It will take you a few hours longer to do this, but it is safer." "Yes, I will." John said quickly. He wanted to leave right away. As John walked through the woods that day, he began thinking about his future. He would learn how to read and write. He would buy a bigger farm for his family. Maybe someday he would be as powful and respected as the Judge. The heavy pack on his back let him think of what he would do when he got home. He would buy a new dress for his mother. He would buy toys for his brothers and sisters.

And he would see the Judge, it minded he saw himself entering the Judge's office. He would count the money into the Judge's hand. John could not wait to pay back the rest of the money that Judge Tone said his father had borrowed. By late afternoon, John's legs hurt and pack on his back was very heavy. He was glad when he finally reached the river because that meant he was almost home. John remembered Seth's advice. But he was too tired to search for a place where the ice had melted.

He saw a large straight tree growing by the river. It was tall enough to reach the other side of the river. John took out his axe and cut down the tree. It fell forming a bridge over the river. John gave the tree a kick but it didn't move. He decided not to do what Seth had said. If he crossed the river on this tree, he would be home in an hours. He could see the Judge that evening.

With the furs on his back, and his gun in his arms, he stepped out on the fallen tree. It felt solid as a rock under his feet. He was about half way across the river when the tree trunk moved suddenly, John fell from it onto the ice. The ice broke and John sank under the water. He didn't have a chance even to yell. John dropped his gun, the furs and traps slipped off his back. He tried to grab them but swiftly flowing water carried them away. John broke through the ice and struggled to the river bank. He had lost everything. He lay in the snow for a few moments. Then he got up, found a long stick and walked up and down the river bank. He poked through the ice for hours, looking for his furs, traps and gun.

Finally, he gave up. He walked straight to the Judge's house. It was very late, but the Judge was still in his office. John knocked and went in. Cold and still wet, John told the Judge how he had ignored Seth's advice and what it happened.

The Judge said nothing until the boy was done. Then Judge Tone said: " Everybody has to learn things. It is bad luck for you and me. That's you have to learn like this. Go home, boy."

John worked hard that summer planting corn and potatoes for his family. He also worked on other people's farms and saved enough money to pay the Judge another 5 dollars. But he still owed him 30 dollars from his father's debt and 75 dollars for the traps and gun, over 100 dollars. John felt he could never pay back the Judge.

In October, Judge Tone sent for him. "John," He said, "you owed me a lot of money. I had a best way I can get it.
It is to give you another chance to hunt and trap this winter. Are you willing to go if I lend you another 75 dollars?"
John found the voice to say yes.

He had to go into the woods alone that year because Seth had moved to another part of the country. But John
remembered everything that his Indian friend had told him. He stayed in Seth's cabin and hunted animals every day of that long lonely winter. This time, he stayed until the end of April, by then he had so many furs that he had to leave his traps behind. The ice over the river had melted when he reached it. He built a raft to take him across even though it took him an extra day. When he got home, the Judge helped him sell the furs for 300 dollars. John paid the Judge the 150 dollars that he had borrowed to buy traps and guns, then he slowly counted it into the Judge's hands, the money that his father had borrowed.

That summer, John worked on his family's farm. He also learned to read and write. Every winter, for the next ten years, he hunted in the woods. He saved the money he earned from the furs. He used it finally to buy a large farm. From time to time, he would visit the Judge in his big stone house. The old man no longer frightened him.

By the time John was 30 years old, he had become one of the leaders of his town. When the Judge died that year, he left John his big house and much of his money. He also left John a letter. John opened it and looked at the date.

The Judge had writen it at the same day that John asked him for the money for his first hunting trip.

"Dear John," The Judge wrote, "I never loaned your father any money. because I never trusted him, but I liked you when the first time I saw you. I wanted to be sure you were not like your father. So I put you to the test, that is why I said you owed me 40 dollars. Good luck, John."

Inside the envelop was 40 dollars.

(MUSIC)

You've heard the final part of the American story, Judge. Your storyteller was Harry Monroe. The story was writen by Walter D. Edmonds and adapted for Special English by Dona de Sanctis. Harold Bruce and company published it in 1951 in Americans All stories of American life edited by Benjamin Hetrick. This story is copyrighted. All rights reserved. This is Shirley Griffith.

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