Page images

upon the stumps; and the wheel is spun round, fizzing, hissing, smoking, and steaming in water, and sending out a pungent smell, that, with the reek and steam, fills and darkens the place. That busy and exciting achievement accomplished, it was only natural to wish to see the body of the cart set upon its wheels; and all the painting in blue and scarlet, with which farmers love to have their vehicles adorned, done in its bravery.

Such were some of the principal trades in the hamlet that used to absorb many a pleasant hour. There were others, indeed, such as stocking-weaving ; but the above were the main attractions. I must not, however, close this chapter without mention of a certain old Jack-of-all-trades, who was always to be had for the asking, and was a neverfailing resource when I wanted something to do, and somebody to help and amuse me. Many a lad will recollect some most useful and agreeable old fellow as William Worley, and happy is the village that has such an accomplished and accommodating person in it.

Where the old man came from, I can't tell; for he was not a native of the place, though he had been in it more years than I had lived. He was a little man, with remarkably white hair and pink complexion; dressed in a blue coat and waistcoat; a hat of a broadish rim that regularly took a turn up behind. He invariably wore white lambs-wool stockings and buckled shoes, and walked with a cane. evident that the old man was not a worker—Sundays and week-days, he was always dressed the same. He lived in a small cottage in a retired garden ; and his wife was employed in nursing, so that he generally had the place all to himself, and was as glad of a companion as I was. He was a florist; his garden displayed showy beds of the most splendid auriculas, tulips, and polyanthuses; and it

It was

[ocr errors]

was a great delight to me to help him to weed his beds of a pleasant sunny morning, to arrange his glasses, and to listen to him while he praised his favourite flowers. I verily believed that no such flowers were to be found elsewhere in the kingdom. But the place into which I should have desired to penetrate more than all, was his bedroom. This seemed to be a perfect treasury of all sorts of good and curious things. Nuts and apples, walnuts, stuffed birds, walking-sticks, fishing rods, flower-seeds of curious sorts, and various other desirable things from time to time came forth from thence in a manner which only made me desire to see how many others were left behind. But into that sanctum honest William never took anybody. If my father wanted a walking-stick, he had only to give the slightest hint to William, and presently he would be seen coming in with one, varnished as bright as the flower of the meadow-crowfoot. Indeed, his chief delights were to wander through the wood with his eyes on the watch for good sticks, or for curious birds, or to saunter along the meadows by the stream-angling and gossiping in a quiet way to some village listener like myself about a hundred country things. People called him an idle

man, because he never was at work on anything that brought him in a penny.

But he had no family to provide for, and his wife got enough, and they might have something besides for aught I know, and why should he work for what he did not want? In my eyes he seemed, and seems still, one of the wisest sort of men. He passed his time in innocent and agreeable occupations. His flowers, and his bees, and his birds for he had always two or three that used to hang by the side of his cottage on fine days, and sing with all their might were his constant delight. He knew where a fish was to

be caught, or rare bird to be seen ; and if

you wanted a fishing-rod or a stick, he was happier to give it than you were to receive it. There were a hundred little things that he was ever and anon manufacturing, and giving to just the people that they would most please. A screw nut-cracker, was it not the very thing to delight a lad like me? A bone apple-scoop, why it was a treasure to some old person. A mouse-trap, or a mole-trap, or a flycage he was the man that came quietly walking in with it just as you were lamenting the want of it. Nay, he was the man to set them, and come regularly to look after them, till they had done what they were wished to do; and if you wanted a person to carry a message, or go on some important little matter to the next village, you thought directly of William Worley, and he was sure to be in the way, and ready to take his stick and be off about it as seriously and earnestly as if he were to have ample reward for it. And an ample reward he had—the belief that he was of service to his neighbours. Honest old William, he was one of a simple and true-hearted generation, and of that generation himself the simplest and truest. Peace to his memory!


1. Oh! his limbs are strong as boughs of oak,

And his thews like links of mail. How his quick breath streams while round him gleams

With a whirl his mighty flail!

2. For it's thump, thump, thump, with right good-will,

From morn till set of sun;
And his arm and flail will never fail

Till his daily task be done.

With the first glad birds that hail the morn,

He is up at work amain,
Till the old barn-floor is cover'd o'er

With the sweet and pearly grain.

Oh! his heart is light as hearts will be,

With a purpose good and strong,
And his strokes keep time to catch the chime

Of his blithely carolled song.

5. For it's thump, thump, thump, with right good-will,

From morn till set of sun;
And his arm and flail will never fail

Till his daily task be done.

While the boys that ʼmid the corn-stacks hide,

Echo back his gleesome lay,
As they toss the chaff, and shout and laugh

In the golden noon of day.

But a lesson they may read and learn,

And the Thresher makes it plain,
For the chaff he finds he gives the winds,

But he garners up the grain.

Then it's work, work, work, with a right good-will,

And store the sheaves of truth;
From the precious seed strike husk and weed,
In the harvest-time of youth.



[The scene of this tale is laid in South Africa.] I once passed two days and nights under circumstances which, I think, were as trying to my nerves and patience, as any that I have ever experienced. I will give you, as nearly as I can, a detail of the events that happened, and of the effects produced upon me.

It happened, then, that I was walking out one day, and was about six miles from home. I had my gun with me, and was on the look-out for rietbok.* On the slope of a hill

up which I was walking, there were some large rocks and long grass, and I was surprised to see a plentiful stream of water running out from between the rocks. I took a good drink, and then ascended the slope, the long grass reaching up to my middle. After I had gone about fifty yards, I started a fine rietbok, fired, and struck him on the shoulder, so that he staggered forward on three legs.

I rushed on, so as not to lose sight of him, and suddenly found the ground give way under me. I dropped my gun, and grasped at the grass ; but although I was

* A kind of deer.

« PreviousContinue »