THE LAD WHO RODE SIDESADDLE
When Daniel Webster was a child he lived in the country, far from any
city. He was not strong enough to work on the farm like his brothers;
but he loved books and study.
He was very young when he was first sent to school. The schoolhouse
was two or three miles from home, but he did not mind the long walk
through the woods and over the hills.
He soon learned all that his teacher could teach; for he was bright
and quick, and had a good memory.
His father hoped that Daniel would grow up to be a wise and famous
man. "But," said he, "no man can rightly succeed without an education."
So it was decided that the boy should go to some school where he might
be prepared for college.
One evening his father said to him, "Daniel, you must be up early in
the morning. You are going to Exeter with me."
"To Exeter, father!" said Daniel.
"Yes, to Exeter. I am going to put you in the academy there."
The academy at Exeter was a famous school for preparing boys for
college. It is still a famous school. But Daniel's father did not say
anything about college.
There were no railroads at that time, and Exeter was nearly fifty miles
away. Daniel and his father would ride there on horseback.
Early in the morning two horses were brought to the door. One was Mr.
Webster's horse; the other was an old gray nag with a lady's sidesaddle
on its back.
"Who is going to ride that nag?" asked Daniel.
"Young Dan Webster," answered his father.
"But I don't want a sidesaddle. I'm not a lady."
"I understand," said Mr. Webster. "But our neighbor, Johnson, is
sending the nag to Exeter for the use of a lady who is to ride back
with me. He does me a favor by allowing you to ride on the animal, and
I do him a favor by taking care of it."
"But won't it look rather funny for me to ride to Exeter on a
"Well, if a lady can ride on it, perhaps Dan Webster can do as much."
And so they set out on their journey to Exeter. Mr. Webster rode in
front, and Daniel, on the old gray nag, followed behind. The roads
were muddy, and they went slowly. It took them two days to reach
The people whom they met gazed at them and wondered who they could be.
They scarcely noticed the sidesaddle; they noticed only the boy's dark
eyes and his strong, noble face.
His clothes were of homemade stuff; his shoes were coarse and heavy;
he had no gloves on his hands; he was awkward and bashful.
Yet there was something in his manner and voice that caused everybody
to admire him.
Daniel Webster lived to become a famous orator and a great statesman.
He was honored at home and abroad.