Washington Irving As a Boy
A Children's Story
The Revolution was about over, and the Americans were very happy. Their country was
about to be free.
At this time a little boy was born in New York. His family was named Irving. What should
this little boy be named?
His mother said, "Washington's work is done. Let us name the baby Washington." So he
was called Washington Irving.
When this baby grew up to be a little boy, he was walking one day with his nurse. The
nurse was a Scotch girl. She saw General Washington go into a shop, and she led the little
boy into the shop and followed General Washington.
The nurse said to General Washington, "Please, your Honor, here is a bairn that is named for
"Bairn" is a Scotch word for child. Washington put his hand on the little boy's head and gave
him his blessing. When Irving became an author, he wrote a life of Washington.
Little Irving was a happy, playful boy, and he was full of mischief.
Sometimes he would climb out of a
window to the roof of his father's
house. From here he would go to
roofs of other houses. Then the
little rascal would drop a pebble
down a neighbor's chimney, and
then he would hurry back and get
into his window again. He would
wonder what the people thought
when the pebble came rattling
down their chimney. Of course
he was punished when his tricks
were found out, but he was still a
favorite with his teacher. With all
his faults, he would not tell a lie,
and the teacher called the little
In those days naughty schoolboys were whipped. Irving could not bear to see another boy
suffer. When a boy was to be whipped, the girls were sent out, and Irving always asked the
schoolmaster to let him go out of the room.
Like other boys, Irving was fond of stories. He liked to read about Sindbad the Sailor, and
Robinson Crusoe. But most of all he liked to read about other countries. He had twenty small
volumes called "The World Displayed." They told about the people and countries of the
world, and Irving read these little books a great deal.
One day the schoolmaster caught him reading in school. The master slipped behind him and
grabbed the book. Then, he told Irving to stay after school.
Irving expected a punishment, but the master told him he was pleased to find that he liked to
read such good books. However, he told him not to read them in school.
Reading about other countries made Irving wish to see them. He thought he would like to
travel. Like other wild boys at that time, he thought of running away and going off to sea.
But he knew that sailors had to eat salt pork, and he did not like salt pork. However, he
thought he would learn to like it. When he got a chance, he ate pork, and sometimes he
would sleep all night on the floor because he wanted to get used to a hard bed.
But the more he ate pork, the more he disliked it. And the more he slept on the floor, the
more he liked a good bed. So he gave up his foolish notion of being a sailor boy.
Some day you will read Washington Irving's "Sketch Book," and you will find some famous
stories in it. There is the story of Rip Van Winkle, who slept for twenty years, and there is
the story of the Headless Horseman. When you read these famous stories, you will
remember the playful boy, Washington Irving, who grew up to become a great author.
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