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Frank Merriwell's Nobility; Or, The Tragedy of the Ocean Tramp By Burt L. Standish Characters: 8483

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

Diamond was thoroughly angry. So was Rattleton. In his excitement, Harry said something that caused Frank to turn quickly, and observe:

"Don't use that kind of language, old man, no matter what the provocation. Vulgarity is even lower than profanity."

Harry's face flushed, and he looked intensely ashamed of himself.

"I peg your bardon-I mean I beg your pardon!" he spluttered. "It slipped out. You know I don't say anything like that often."

"I know it," nodded Frank, "and that's why it sounded all the worse. I don't know that I ever heard you use such a word before."

Harry did not resent Frank's reproof, for he knew Frank was right, and he was ashamed.

Every young man who stoops to vulgarity should be ashamed. Profanity is coarse and degrading; vulgarity is positively low and filthy. The youth who is careful to keep his clothes and his body clean should be careful to keep his mouth clean. Let nothing go into it or come out of it that is in any way lowering.

Did you ever hear a loafer on a corner using profane and obscene language? I'll warrant most of you have, and I'll warrant that you were thoroughly disgusted. You looked on the fellow as low, coarse, cheap, unfit to associate with respectable persons. The next time you use a word that you should be ashamed to have your mother or sister hear just think that you are following the example of that loafer. You are lowering yourself in the eyes of somebody, even though you may not think so at the time. Perhaps one of your companions may be a person who uses such language freely, and yet he has never before heard it from you. He laughs, he calls you a jolly good fellow to your face; but he thinks to himself that you are no better than anybody else, and behind your back he tells somebody what he thinks. He is glad of the opportunity to show that you are no better than he is. Never tell a vulgar story. Better never listen to one, unless your position is such that you cannot escape without making yourself appear a positive cad. If you have to listen to such a story, forget it as soon as possible. Above all things, do not try to remember it.

Some young men boast of the stories they know. And all their stories are of the "shady" sort. It is better to know no stories than to know that kind. It is better not to be called a good fellow than to win a reputation by always having a new story of the low sort ready on your tongue.

There are other and better ways of winning a reputation as a good fellow. There are stories which are genuinely humorous and funny which are also clean. No matter how much of a laugh he may raise, any self-respecting person feels that he has lowered himself by telling a vulgar story. It is not so if he has told a clean story. He is satisfied with the laughter he has caused and with himself.

Frank Merriwell was called a good fellow. It was not often that he told a story, but when he did, it was a good one, and it was clean. He had an inimitable way of telling anything, and his stories were all the more effective because they came at rare intervals. He did not cheapen them by making them common.

And never had anybody heard him tell a story that could prove offensive to the ears of a lady.

Not that he had not been tempted to do so. Not that he had not heard such stories. He had been placed in positions where he could not help hearing them without making himself appear like a thorough cad.

Frank's first attempt to tell a vulgar story had been the lesson that he needed. He was with a rather gay crowd of boys at the time, and several had told "shady" yarns, and then they had called for one from Frank. He started to tell one, working up to the point with all the skill of which he was capable. He had them breathless, ready to shout with laughter when the point was reached. He drew them on and on with all the skill of which he was capable. And then, just as the climax was reached, he suddenly realized just what he was about to say. A thought came to him that made his heart give a great jump.

"What if my mother were listening?"

That was the thought. His mother was dead, but her influence was over him. A second thought followed. Many times he had seemed to feel her hoveri

ng near. Perhaps she was listening! Perhaps she was hearing all that he was saying!

Frank Merriwell stopped and stood quite still. At first he was very pale, and then came a rush of blood to his face. He turned crimson with shame and hung his head.

His companions looked at him in astonishment. They could not understand what had happened. Some of them cried, "Go on! go on!"

After some seconds he tried to speak. At first he choked and could say nothing articulate. After a little, he muttered:

"I can't go on-I can't finish the story! You'll have to excuse me, fellows! I'm not feeling well!"

And he withdrew from the jolly party as soon as possible.

From that day Frank Merriwell never attempted to tell a story that was in the slightest degree vulgar. He had learned his lesson, and he never forgot it.

Some boys swagger, chew tobacco, talk vulgar, and swear because they do not wish to be called "sissies." They fancy such actions and language make them manly, but nothing could be a greater mistake.

Frank did nothing of the sort, and all who knew him regarded him as thoroughly manly. Better to be called a "sissy" than to win reputed manliness at the cost of self-respect.

Frank had forced those who would have regarded him with scorn to respect him. He could play baseball or football with the best of them; he could run, jump, swim, ride, and he excelled by sheer determination in almost everything he undertook. He would not be beaten. If defeated once, he did not rest, but prepared himself for another trial and went in to win or die. In this way he showed himself manly, and he commanded the respect of enemies as well as friends.

Rattleton was ashamed of the language he had used after the departure of Bloodgood, and he did not attempt to excuse himself further. He lay back in his berth, looking sicker than ever.

"I'd give ten dollars for the privilege of helping Mr. Bloodgood out with my foot!" hissed Jack Diamond. "Never saw anybody so fresh!"

"Oh, I've seen lots of people just like him," grunted Browning, getting out a pipe and lighting it.

"Don't smoke, Bruce!" groaned Rattleton, as the steamer gave an unusually heavy roll. "I'm sick enough now. That will make me worse."

"Oh, we'll open the port."

"Open the port!" laughed Frank. "And we just told Bloodgood we did not drink."

"Port-hole, not port wine," said the big fellow, with a yawn. "We'll let in some fresh air."

"We can't let in anything fresher than just went out," declared the Virginian, as he flung open the round window that served to admit light and air.

"There's something mighty queer about that fellow," said Frank. "Did you notice the diamonds he was wearing, fellows?"

"Yes," said Bruce, beginning to puff away at his new briarwood. "Regular eye-hitters they were."

"Who knows they were genuine?" asked Jack.

"Nobody here," admitted Frank. "It is impossible to distinguish some fake stones from real diamonds, unless you examine them closely. But, somehow, I have a fancy that those were genuine diamonds."

"What makes you think so?"

"I don't know just why I think so, but I do. Something tells me that for all of his swagger Bloodgood is a fellow who would scorn to wear paste diamonds."

"What do you make out of the fellow, anyway?" asked Bruce.

"I'm not able to size him up yet," admitted Frank. "I'm not certain whether he came of a good family or a bad one, but I'm inclined to fancy it was the former."

"I'd like to know why you think so?" from Jack. "He did not show very good breeding."

"But there is a certain something about his face that makes me believe he comes from a high-grade family. I think he has become lowered by associating with bad companions."

"Well, I don't care who or what he is," declared Jack; "if he gets fresh around me again, I'll crack him one for luck. I can't stand him for a cent!"

"Better turn him over to me," murmured Bruce, dozily. "I'll sit on him."

"And he'll think he's under an elephant," laughed Merry. "Bruce cooked M. Montfort, and I reckon he'd have less trouble to cook Mr. Bloodgood."

At this moment there was a hesitating, uncertain knock on the door.

"Another visitor, I wonder?" muttered Frank.

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