Introductory Note: “Have Patience” is a brief instructional narrative meant to cultivate the virtue of patience in its young readers. Like much of the fiction in The Primitive Methodist Juvenile Magazine and in keeping with the principles of the Primitive Methodist movement, it emphasizes the importance of lay teaching and the development of self-discipline.
“MOTHER, mother, do come here, just as quick as you can, and get this hateful old knot out for me.”
Freddy’s mother went to the door, and said in a quieting tone,
“I’d be glad to do it for you, my son, but I think it is better for you to do it yourself; you’d always have plenty of time to get ready for breakfast, without jerking your shoe-string into a knot, if you’d get up when I call you.”
“But I’m sleepy, and I can’t.”
“That’s a foolish excuse, Freddy. You know I never call you while you are sleepy, for I want you to sleep as long as you can; so I always wait till you are wide awake.”
“But this is a hateful old knot, and the breakfast-bell will ring in a minute, and I can’t wait to get it out.”
“Never mind the breakfast-bell this morning,” said his mother, in her kind, quiet way, “You shall have your breakfast kept warm for you, but you must get this knot out yourself, if it takes you an hour.”
“I can’t wait to get it out,” said Freddy again; “I want to eat with the rest. There, now, the bell rings, and I’ll bet anything Susan knew my shoe-string was in a hard knot, and rung it earlier than usual just to plague me. Susan is a hateful girl; she’s hatefuler than this knot, and I’ll tell her so.”
“I can’t listen to you any longer,” said his mother, “and I don’t want to talk with you while you are so angry. As soon as you are dressed and feel pleasantly again, you can come to breakfast.”
It took Freddy some time to untie his shoe-string, get dressed, and get his face smoothed out; but before we had finished breakfast, he made his appearance.
I didn’t really look at him; I only glanced at him, for I knew that when a boy had been acting badly and felt ashamed of it, he did’nt like to be stared at. Freddy ate his breakfast in silence, and no notice was taken of him or his bad behaviour.
In the course of the morning I proposed going out to walk, for I was a stranger, and wanted to see the town.
“You can’t find your way about alone,” said Freddy, “for you’ve never been here before. I’ll go with you if you want me to; I can show you every thing, for I’ve been everywhere, and seen everything myself.”
Freddy was in his pleasantest mood, and I gladly accepted him as a guide, and I found him just the guide I wanted, and very good company too.
After showing me all the public buildings and the most beautiful residences in town, he turned into a quiet shady street.
“This street,” said he, “I call my street, for I always come here and walk all alone by myself when I get tired.”
“I suppose,” said I “that you mean when you get tired of hard knots.”
Freddy laughed a little, and put his hands into his pockets, and did’nt say much, till I said a little more and drew him out, and then he told me what hard work it was to untie a hard knot, and how he’d rather go bare-footed than have so much trouble with his shoe-strings, and how his patience was tried.
“Now, Freddy,” I said, “I want to give you a little advice. I’m not a very old woman, but then, you know, I’m grown up and you are not, and I, of course, know a great deal that you don’t. I really think, Freddy, that those hard knots are worth a great deal to you.”
Freddy’s eyes suddenly opened very wide, and he looked as if he wanted to say, “What can the woman mean?”
“Yes, I really think so,” said I, “those hard knots are worth everything to you. You’ll never make a man unless you have patience among your virtues. You’ll never be good for much without patience, and your patience never will be good for much unless it is tried.”
“Well, don’t you like to have things go right along smooth?” said Freddy, looking at me earnestly. “It most kills me to have my shoe-strings get into a hard knot, and it always seems to me I can’t stand it another minute. But I have to, for my mother won’t let me off. She always sticks me right to it.”
“And you think she does right, don’t you?”
“Yes, I guess so,” said Freddy good-naturedly; “but it’s awful hard work to stand it.”
“I’ve no doubt of it, Freddy,” said I, “for I feel pretty badly myself; but just remember that people who try to live in this world without patience have a very hard time of it. Shoe-strings will get into a knot sometimes, even when we get up very early in the morning, and have plenty of time to get ready for breakfast.
“And all along through the day, and all along through our lives, we’ll find hard knots to be untied, and these knots won’t always be in shoe-strings either. We’ll find them everywhere, in almost everything; and if we jerk, and twitch, and pull, and scowl up our faces, and get out of breath in a hurry, it will only make bad worse, and everything will go wrong as long as we live. Now, Freddy, whenever you have a hard knot to untie, just say to yourself, have patience, Freddy Esmond, have patience.”1The original is missing the final quotation mark: “. . .have patience.
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How To Cite (MLA Format)
“Have Patience.” Primitive Methodist Juvenile Magazine, vol. 13, no. 2, 1864, pp. 53-5. Edited by Dallin Parkinson. Victorian Short Fiction Project, 29 November 2023, https://vsfp.byu.edu/index.php/title/have-patience/.
7 October 2016
27 November 2023
|↑1||The original is missing the final quotation mark: “. . .have patience.|