1. 'Uncle Philip, as the day is fine, will you take a walk with us this morning?'

2. 'Yes, boys. Let me get my hat and cane, and we will take a ramble. I will tell you a story as we go. Do you know poor old Tom Smith?'

3. 'Know him! Why, Uncle Philip, everybody knows him. He is such a shocking drunkard, and swears so horribly.'

4. 'Well, I have known him ever since we were boys together. There was not a more decent, well-behaved boy among us. After he left school, his father died, and he was put into a store in the city. There, he fell into bad company.

5. 'Instead of spending his evenings in reading, he would go to the theater and to balls. He soon learned to play cards, and of course to play for money. He lost more than he could pay.

6. 'He wrote to his poor mother, and told her his losses. She sent him money to pay his debts, and told him to come home.

7. 'He did come home. After all, he might still have been useful and happy, for his friends were willing to forgive the past. For a time, things went on well. He married a lovely woman, gave up his bad habits, and was doing well.

8. 'But one thing, boys, ruined him forever. In the city, he had learned to take strong drink, and he said to me once, that when a man begins to drink, he never knows where it will end. 'Therefore,' said Tom, 'beware of the first drink!'

9. 'It was not long before he began to follow his old habit. He knew the danger, but it seemed as if he could not resist his desire to drink. His poor mother soon died of grief and shame. His lovely wife followed her to the grave.

10. 'He lost the respect of all, went on from bad to worse, and has long been a perfect sot. Last night, I had a letter from the city, stating that Tom Smith had been found guilty of stealing, and sent to the state prison for ten years.

11. 'There I suppose he will die, for he is now old. It is dreadful to think to what an end he has come. I could not but think, as I read the letter, of what he said to me years ago, 'Beware of the first drink!'

12. 'Ah, my dear boys, when old Uncle Philip is gone, remember that he told you the story of Tom Smith, and said to you, 'Beware of the first drink!' The man who does this will never be a drunkard.'


2. Horribly: In a dreadful manner, terribly.

4. Decent: Modest, respectable.

9. Resist: Withstand, overcome.

10. Sot: A habitual drunkard.

10. Guilty: Justly chargeable with a crime.

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