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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;
Till his daily task be done.
He is up at work amain,
With the sweet and pearly grain.
With a purpose good and strong,
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.
Echo back his gleesome lay,
In the golden noon of day.
And the Thresher makes it plain,
But he garners up the grain.
And store the sheaves of truth;
A STRANGE FRIEND.
[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
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.
below the surface, and merely rested for an instant against a bush, this gave way beneath me, and I fell a depth of several yards on to some soft sand and water. When I first found the ground give way under me, I fancied I must have fallen into a wolf-hole, and was merely annoyed at losing sight of my wounded buck. When, however, I found myself falling again, I began to think it was all over with me, and that I must be tumbling into a well or down a precipice.
When I came to the bottom, I was much bruised and scratched, and felt so shaken that I scarcely knew whether some of my bones were broken or not. But I soon came to myself, and got up with the intention of clambering out of the hole. When, however, I attempted to stand up, I found that my left ankle was either broken, or so badly sprained, that it was impossible for me to bear my weight on that leg. I therefore concluded that it would be useless to attempt to follow the buck, and that I had better rest a little while.
I sat down and looked about and above me at the place into which I had tumbled, and then I saw that it was much deeper than I had supposed. I must have fallen more than thirty feet. Seeing this, I considered that it was fortunate I had not been killed by the fall, or at least had not broken an arm or a leg. The top of the hole was not more than five or six feet across, but the bottom was nearly fifteen feet in width.
It was rather dark, still I could distinguish objects plainly.
As I sat rubbing my ankle, and looking round me, I gradually became aware that the place I was in would be a very awkward one to escape from. The more I looked at the wet, smooth sand, the more did the difficulty of escape force itself upon me. At last I felt certain that