BEN And ME (1)
IF YOU should ever visit the fair city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, very likely you will see a fine statue to the memory of Bejami Franklin.
He was one of our country's first great leaders.
Benjamin Franklin was a philosopher, an inventor, and a patriot.
If you are fortunate enough to have a good view of the statue's broad-brimmed hat, you may see there a tiny statue to one of our country's unsung great, a chap by the name of Amos Mouse.
It was Amos, you see, who was really responsible for many of the great deeds credited to Franklin.
And here is the story in his own word:
I was born and raised in Phikdelphia, in the old church on Second Street.
Our home was in the vestry, behind the paneling.
There were twenty-six children in the family.
With that many mouths to feed, we were naturally poor.
In fact, we were as poor as church mice.
Since I was the oldest, I decided to set out into the world and make my own way.
If I were successful, I could help the others; but in any case, it left one less mouse to feed.
It was the winter of 1745.
Those were difficult times.
Jobs were scarce, especially for a mouse.
All day I tramped through the snow, dodging icicles, brooms, and cats.
By nightfall, I did not know where to turn.
If I did find shelter soon I'd be done for.
My last hope was an old run-down shop out near the edge of town.
A sign just over the door read, " Benjamin Flanklin, Printer & Bookbinder. "
BEN And ME (2)
Somehow that sounded promising.
So I found my way inside.
The place was full of strange contraptions, brass rods, tangles of wire and such.
It was about as cold inside as out.
Back in the shadows sat a round-faced man, trying to write by candlelight.
As I watched the little man, he began to shiver with cold.
Then came a mighty sneezeーAhーahーchoo !
Off flew his glasses, and they crashed on the floor.
" Oh, dear ! " Don't tell me ! " cried the little man.
" My last pair ! Now what will I do ? I'll never get my paper out. And if I don't pay my rent in twenty-four hours, the men I owe money to will take my press and my furniture and throw me out ! "
" Twenty-four hours ? " I said thoughtfully.
" It isn't much. "
" It's hopeless, " said the little man.
" But you can't give up ! " I told him.
" Nothing ventured, nothing gained, Mr.Flanklin. "
" My name is Ben, " he said.
" Plain Ben. And what would you do, whatever your name is what would you do, whatever your name is ? "
" My name is Amos, " I told him.
" One of the church mice from over on Second Street. And the first thing I'd do is figure out a way to heat this place. "
I suggested a fire box in the middle of the room, so the heat didn't go up the chimney.
Of course it had to be made of iron, with a pipe to the chimney, to carry off the smoke.
It sure wasn't much to look at, when he got it made, butー
”It works Amos ! " he had to admit.
" Say, I wonder if we couldn't make those and sell them. Call them Franklin stoves !"
If you know your history, of course you know they did make those stoves.
Well, while Ben had been fooling around with the stove, I'd been at work on his eye-glasses.
He'd broken both his outdoors and his reading pair; the only thing left was to make one pair out of the two, fitting the glass together as best I could.
" Will they do ? " I asked Ben Franklin, when he tried them on.
" Will they do ?" he echoed.
" Why, Amos, they're great. Two-way glasses !
By Geogeーbifocals, we'll call them.
And to my surprise, they became famous, tooーeven more so than the Franklin stoves.
BEN And ME (3)
We were ready then to get to work on the paper, and when I took a look at it, I found it really needed work.
Poor Richard's Almanac, it was calledーpoor indeed, I thought.
There wasn't a real bit of news in the whole sheet.
" What would you suggest ? " Ben said.
" First I'd give it a new nameーsomething snappy likeーahーthe gazetteーPennsylvania Gazette.
That's what I'd call it !
Then I'd give them some news, real news. "
"But where will I get news at this hour ?" Ben Franklin wanted to know.
So of course I had to go out and get it for him.
I found a big fire on Chestnut Street; I came upon some fellows plotting to cheat the city.
I filled my pocket notebook full of news.
Then I race back to Benjamin Franklin and helped him set the story of the fire and the cheat the city in type a d print off the sheet on his hand printing press.
It was long night's work, but I'm here to state it night's work, but I'm here to state it was worth it.
By evening of the next day, everyone in Philadephia was reading the Gazette.
Ben Franklin was a success.
From then on I went everywhere with Ben, riding conveniently on his hat so I could down and give him pointers now and then.
Well the years went by quickly, and Ben's reputation grew.
Letters poured in from all over the colonies, asking Ben's advice on all kinds of things.
It took most of my spare time to answer them.
BEN And ME (4)
Meanwhile Ben was puttering around with his experiments.
And it was one of them that led us at last to the parting of our ways.
Ben took up kite flying.
That was the beginning.
And to the framework of his largest kite he fastened a small box just for me.
I was so thrilled by flyingーseeing the whole countryside spread out like a story-book belowーthat I failed to notice a sharp pointed wire fastened to the kite.
The first hint I had that anything was wrong was when the sky darkened with thunderclouds and a mean rain wind began to blow.
The kite spun and shivered, but Ben would not pull me in !
I screamed myself hoarse.
I tugged at the rope.
Now lightning was flashing along the horizon.
The storm was moving our way.
Suddenly with a blast that seemed to split the world, lightning struck my kite!
The shock went through me and almost tore the kite to ribbons.
I thought my end had surely come.
Nowーtoo lateーBen began to wind his rope.
The kite and I ,in tatters both, came staggering down the wind and landed in a tree.
BEN and ME (5)
When BEN found us there, he scooped me up in one hand.
" Amos ! Amos ! Speak to me ! " he cried.
I could almost forgive him, for what I had suffered, he seemed so deeply upset.
Shakily I managed to open one eye.
" Amos ! " he cried again.
" Was it electricity ?"
I had been the victim of plot !
All he cared about was whether or not the sizzle in a lightning bolt was the same as electricity !
That was the end of me !
"Good-by ! "I said.
And though he pleaded with me to change my mind, I left Ben then and went back to my family.
The years that followed were troubled ones.
Restless crowds filled the streets.
There were riots, and loud talk against the stamp tax and other outrages of the king.
It was during this crisis that Ben was chosen to go to England and lay our case before the king.
The colonies eagerly awaited his return.
But Ben's misson was a failure.
The king would not listen.
It seemed as if war must surely come.
But the people had no clear statement of their cause to hold them together through a long, bitter fight.
Poor old Ben was worried.
I couldn't help feeling sorry for the little man.
It was a heavy responsibility he hadーmore than he could carry.
I could help himーI knew I could.
But no !
I could not go back to work for Benjamin Franklin.
After all, a mouse has his pride !
BEN And ME (6)
One night in the summer of 1776 I was awakened by a voice calling my name.
Who could it be at that hour ?
Sleepily I staggered out of bed and through the mousehole in the vestry paneling.
There on his knees was the great man, Ben Franklin himself.
" Amos, I've come to ask you to come back. " he said, as humbly as you please.
I was pleased and touched, but I could not let him see it.
" Out of the question, " I said, and turned to go.
" Please, Amos. Consider your country, " he begged.
" I have many big decisions to make, and I can't make them alone. You just must come back, Amos."
" On my own terms ? " I asked.
" If I draw up an agreement, will you sign it ? "
" I'll sign it, Amos. I'll sign any agreement you draw up. " he vowed.
So I went back, having spent the night writing out our agreement by candlelight.
Ben was glad to see me the next morning, you may be sure.
He took my hat and coat.
He made me some tea.
But I was not to be put off my course.
I gave him, at once, my agreement to sign.
" Of course, of course, " he said.
" Do you mind if I read it ? "
" If you wish, " I said.
That was when the knocking came at the door.
It was Thomas Jefferson.
You see, he was one of the leaders of the colonies, too.
BEN And ME (7) 完
" Red, " Ben called him.
And he was in a terrible state.
He was supposed to write for them all a statement of what they believedーa Declaration of Independence, you might say.
But he could not get the beginning right, struggle as he would.
”The time has come when we the people of these coloniesー" he began to read, but then he broke off and shock his head.
" No, Ben, it isn't right. The time is at handーNoー"
" Psst, Ben ! " I said, when I saw how upset the poor Thomas Jefferson was.
" How about our contract ? "
" Shh ! " said Ben. " Just a minute. "
" No, " I insisted. " Now ! "
So Ben got out his magnifying glass and began to read it aloud.
" When, in the Course of human events, it become necessaryー ”
”Ben ! " cried Red Jefferson, perking up.
" That's it ! That's it ! "
So that's how it happened that I supplied the beginning for the Declaration of Independence.
Oh, I didn't get public credit, of course.
But fame doesn't matter to a mouse.
I have my memoriesーwonderful onesーof the good old days and Ben and me.