IT takes three days to make the voyage of 300 miles from Boston to New York, but the weather is good, the early autumn air cool and limpid, and Benjamin's spirits, never long in a slump, bound upward. Characteristically, he begins to look about him for things to be observed. During a calm off Block Island he finds the sailors amusing themselves by fishing for tomcod. Put on the galley fire, these fish give forth a savoury odor. It curls appetizingly about the nostrils of the boy passenger. Up to now he has been a devout vegetarian. The spirit continues sturdy, but the flesh hankers after the fish pots.
It is, as we have observed, the beginning of the Age of Reason. Benjamin, being a man of his period, therefore surveys the subject of vegetarianism in the light of the new dawn. Upon examination he finds that the fish which are hauled on deck contain other fish within them. He rationalizes the situation. It is clear that the caught fish deserve no mercy. The vegetarian theory slides overboard with a rattling crash. He falls upon the guilty fish with relish.
"So convenient it is," he remarked later, "to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do."
Sly Benjamin! Already you are observing the workings of human nature, in yourself and others, with that canny humor which is to teach you to get along with your fellow men in a spirit of accommodation which provides charity for all.