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   Chapter 4 No.4

The Parent's Assistant; Or, Stories for Children By Maria Edgeworth Characters: 108567

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:02


We turn with pleasure from Piedro the Cunning to Francisco the Honest. Francisco continued the happy and useful course of his life. By his unremitting perseverance, he improved himself rapidly under the instructions of his master and friend, Signor Camillo; his friend, we say, for the fair and open character of Francisco won, or rather earned, the friendship of this benevolent artist. The English gentleman seemed to take a pride in our hero's success and good conduct. He was not one of those patrons who think that they have done enough when they have given five guineas. His servant Arthur always considered every generous action of his master's as his own, and was particularly pleased whenever this generosity was directed towards Francisco.

As for Carlo and the little Rosetta, they were the companions of all the pleasant walks which Francisco used to take in the cool of the evening, after he had been shut up all day at his work. And the old carpenter, delighted with the gratitude of his pupil, frequently repeated-"that he was proud to have given the first instructions to such a genius; and that he had always prophesied Francisco would be a great man."

"And a good man, papa," said Rosetta; "for though he has grown so great, and though he goes into palaces now, to say nothing of that place underground, where he has leave to go, yet, notwithstanding all this, he never forgets my brother Carlo and you."

"That's the way to have good friends," said the carpenter. "And I like his way; he does more than he says. Facts are masculine, and words are feminine." [337]

These goods friends seemed to make Francisco happier than Piedro could be made by his stolen diamonds.

One morning, Francisco was sent to finish a sketch of the front of an ancient temple, amongst the ruins of Herculaneum. He had just reached the pit, and the men were about to let him down with cords, in the usual manner, when his attention was caught by the shrill sound of a scolding woman's voice. He looked, and saw at some paces distant this female fury, who stood guarding the windlass of a well, to which, with threatening gestures and most voluble menaces, she forbade all access. The peasants-men, women and children, who had come with their pitchers to draw water at this well-were held at bay by the enraged female. Not one dared to be the first to advance; whilst she grasped with one hand the handle of the windlass, and, with the other tanned muscular arm extended, governed the populace, bidding them remember that she was padrona, or mistress of the well. They retired, in hopes of finding a more gentle padrona at some other well in the neighbourhood; and the fury, when they were out of sight, divided the long black hair which hung over her face, and, turning to one of the spectators, appealed to them in a sober voice, and asked if she was not right in what she had done? "I, that am padrona of the well," said she, addressing herself to Francisco, who, with great attention, was contemplating her with the eye of a painter-"I, that am padrona of the well, must in times of scarcity do strict justice, and preserve for ourselves alone the water of our well. There is scarcely enough even for ourselves. I have been obliged to make my husband lengthen the ropes every day for this week past. If things go on at this rate, there will soon be not one drop of water left in my well."

"Nor in any of the wells of the neighbourhood," added one of the workmen, who was standing by; and he mentioned several in which the water had lately suddenly decreased; and a miller affirmed that his mill had stopped for want of water.

Francisco was struck by these remarks. They brought to his recollection similar facts, which he had often heard his father mention in his childhood, as having been observed previous to the last eruption of Mount Vesuvius. [338a] He had also heard from his father, in his childhood, that it is better to trust to prudence than to fortune; and therefore, though the peasants and workmen, to whom he mentioned his fears, laughed, and said, "That as the burning mountain had been favourable to them for so many years, they would trust to it and St. Januarius one day longer," yet Francisco immediately gave up all thoughts of spending this day amidst the ruins of Herculaneum. After having inquired sufficiently, after having seen several wells, in which the water had evidently decreased, and after having seen the mill-wheels that were standing still for want of their usual supply, he hastened home to his father and mother, reported what he had heard and seen, and begged of them to remove, and to take what things of value they could to some distance from the dangerous spot where they now resided.

Some of the inhabitants of Resina, whom he questioned, declared that they had heard strange rumbling noises underground; and a peasant and his son, who had been at work the preceding day in a vineyard, a little above the village, related that they had seen a sudden puff of smoke come out of the earth, close to them; and that they had, at the same time, heard a noise like the going off of a pistol. [338b]

The villagers listened with large eyes and open ears to these relations; yet such was their habitual attachment to the spot they lived upon, or such the security in their own good fortune, that few of them would believe that there could be any necessity for removing.-"We'll see what will happen to-morrow; we shall be safe here one day longer," said they.

Francisco's father and mother, more prudent than the generality of their neighbours, went to the house of a relation, at some miles' distance from Vesuvius, and carried with them all their effects.

In the meantime, Francisco went to the villa where his English friends resided. The villa was in a most dangerous situation, near Terre del Greco-a town that stands at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. He related all the facts that he had heard to Arthur, who, not having been, like the inhabitants of Resina, familiarized to the idea of living in the vicinity of a burning mountain, and habituated to trust in St. Januarius, was sufficiently alarmed by Francisco's representations. He ran to his master's apartment, and communicated all that he had just heard. The Count de Flora and his lady, who were at this time in the house, ridiculed the fears of Arthur, and could not be prevailed upon to remove even as far as Naples. The lady was intent upon preparations for her birthday, which was to be celebrated in a few days with great magnificence at their villa; and she observed that it would be a pity to return to town before that day, and they had everything arranged for the festival. The prudent Englishman had not the gallantry to appear to be convinced by these arguments, and he left the place of danger. He left it not too soon, for the next morning exhibited a scene-a scene which we shall not attempt to describe.

We refer our young readers to the account of this dreadful eruption of Mount Vesuvius, published by Sir W. Hamilton in the "Philosophical Transactions." It is sufficient here to say that, in the space of about five hours, the wretched inhabitants of Torre del Greco saw their town utterly destroyed by the streams of burning lava which poured from the mountain. The villa of Count de Flora, with some others, which were at a little distance from the town, escaped; but they were absolutely surrounded by the lava. The count and countess were obliged to fly from their house with the utmost precipitation in the night-time; and they had not time to remove any of their furniture, their plate, clothes, or jewels.

A few days after the eruption, the surface of the lava became so cool that people could walk upon it, though several feet beneath the surface it was still exceedingly hot. Numbers of those who had been forced from their houses now returned to the ruins to try to save whatever they could. But these unfortunate persons frequently found their houses had been pillaged by robbers, who, in these moments of general confusion, enrich themselves with the spoils of their fellow-creatures.

"Has the count abandoned his villa? and is there no one to take care of his plate and furniture? The house will certainly be ransacked before morning," said the old carpenter to Francisco, who was at his house giving him an account of their flight. Francisco immediately went to the count's house in warn him of his danger. The first person he saw was Arthur, who, with a face of terror, said to him, "Do you know what has happened? It is all over with Resina!"

"All over with Resina! What, has there been a fresh eruption? Has the lava reached Resina?"

"No; but it will inevitably be blown up. There," said Arthur, pointing to a thin figure of an Italian, who stood pale and trembling, and looking up to heaven as he crossed himself repeatedly. "There," said Arthur, "is a man who has left a parcel of his cursed rockets and fireworks, with I don't know how much gunpowder, in the count's house, from which we have just fled. The wind blows that way. One spark of fire, and the whole is blown up."

Francisco waited not to hear more; but instantly, without explaining his intentions to anyone, set out for the count's villa, and, with a bucket of water in his hand, crossed the beds of lava with which the house was encompassed; when, reaching the hall where the rockets and gunpowder were left, he plunged them into the water, and returned with them in safety over the lava, yet warm under his feet.

What was the surprise and joy of the poor firework-maker when he saw Francisco return from this dangerous expedition! He could scarcely believe his eyes, when he saw the rockets and the gunpowder all safe.

The count, who had given up the hopes of saving his palace, was in admiration when he heard of this instance of intrepidity, which properly saved not only his villa, but the whole village of Resina, from destruction. These fireworks had been prepared for the celebration of the countess' birthday, and were forgotten in the hurry of the night on which the inhabitants fled from Torre del Greco.

"Brave young man!" said the count to Francisco, "I thank you, and shall not limit my gratitude to thanks. You tell me that there is danger of my villa being pillaged by robbers. It is from this moment your interest, as well as mine, to prevent their depredations; for (trust to my liberality) a portion of all that is saved of mine shall be yours."

"Bravo! bravissimo!" exclaimed one, who started from a recessed window in the hall where all this passed. "Bravo! bravissimo!"-Francisco thought he knew the voice and the countenance of this man, who exclaimed with so much enthusiasm. He remembered to have seen him before, but when, or where, he could not recollect. As soon as the count left the hall, the stranger came up to Francisco. "Is it possible," said he, "that you don't know me? It is scarcely a twelvemonth since I drew tears from your eyes."

"Tears from my eyes?" repeated Francisco, smiling; "I have shed but few tears. I have had but few misfortunes in my life." The stranger answered him by two extempore Italian lines, which conveyed nearly the same idea that has been so well expressed by an English poet:-

"To each their sufferings-all are men

Condemn'd alike to groan;

The feeling for another's woes,

Th' unfeeling for his own."

"I know you now perfectly well," cried Francisco; "you are the Improvisatore who, one fine moonlight night last summer, told us the story of Cornaro the Turk."

"The same," said the Improvisatore; "the same, though in a better dress, which I should not have thought would have made so much difference in your eyes, though it makes all the difference between man and man in the eyes of the stupid vulgar. My genius has broken through the clouds of misfortune of late. A few happy impromptu verses I made on the Count de Flora's fall from his horse attracted attention. The count patronizes me. I am here now to learn the fate of an ode I have just composed for his lady's birthday. My ode was to have been set to music, and to have been performed at his villa near Torre del Greco, if these troubles had not intervened. Now that the mountain is quiet again, people will return to their senses. I expect to be munificently rewarded. But, perhaps, I detain you. Go; I shall not forget to celebrate the heroic action you have performed this day. I still amuse myself amongst the populace in my tattered garb late in the evenings, and I shall sound your praises through Naples in a poem I mean to recite on the late eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Adieu."

The Improvisatore was as good as his word. That evening, with more than his usual enthusiasm, he recited his verses to a great crowd of people in one of the public squares. Amongst the crowd were several to whom the name of Francisco was well known, and by whom he was well beloved. These were his young companions, who remembered him as a fruit-seller amongst the little merchants. They rejoiced to hear his praises, and repeated the lines with shouts of applause.

"Let us pass. What is all this disturbance in the streets?" said a man, pushing his way through the crowd. A lad who held by his arm stopped suddenly on hearing the name of Francisco, which the people were repeating with so much enthusiasm.

"Ha! I have found at last a story that interests you more than that of Cornaro the Turk," cried the Improvisatore, looking in the face of the youth, who had stopped so suddenly. "You are the young man who, last summer, had liked to have tricked me out of my new hat. Promise me you won't touch it now," said he, throwing down the hat at his feet, "or you hear not one word I have to say. Not one word of the heroic action performed at the villa of the Count de Flora, near Torre del Greco, this morning, by Signor Francisco."

"Signor Francisco!" repeated the lad with disdain. "Well, let us hear what you have to tell of him," added he. "Your hat is very safe, I promise you; I shall not touch it. What of Signor Francisco?"

"Signor Francisco I may, without impropriety, call him," said the Improvisatore, "for he is likely to become rich enough to command the title from those who might not otherwise respect his merit."

"Likely to become rich! how?" said the lad, whom our readers have probably before this time discovered to be Piedro. "How, pray, is he likely to become rich enough to be a signor?"

"The Count de Flora has promised him a liberal portion of all the fine furniture, plate and jewels that can be saved from his villa at Torre del Greco. Francisco is gone down hither now with some of the count's domestics to protect the valuable goods against those villainous plunderers, who robbed their fellow-creatures of what even the flames of Vesuvius would spare."

"Come, we have had enough of this stuff," cried the man whose arm Piedro held. "Come away," and he hurried forwards.

This man was one of the villains against whom the honest orator expressed such indignation. He was one of those with whom Piedro got acquainted during the time that he was living extravagantly upon the money he gained by the sale of the stolen diamond cross. That robbery was not discovered; and his success, as he called it, hardened him in guilt. He was both unwilling and unable to withdraw himself from the bad company with whom his ill gotten wealth connected him. He did not consider that bad company leads to the gallows. [342]

The universal confusion which followed the eruption of Mount Vesuvius was to these villains a time of rejoicing. No sooner did Piedro's companion hear of the rich furniture, plate, etc., which the imprudent orator had described as belonging to the Count de Flora's villa, than he longed to make himself master of the whole.

"It is a pity," said Piedro, "that the count has sent Francisco, with his servants down to guard it."

"And who is this Francisco of whom you seem to stand in so much awe?"

"A boy, a young lad only, of about my own age; but I know him to be sturdily honest. The servants we might corrupt; but even the old proverb of 'Angle with a silver hook,' [343] won't hold good with him."

"And if he cannot be won by fair means, he must be conquered by foul," said the desperate villain; "but if we offer him rather more than the count has already promised for his share of the booty, of course he will consult at once his safety and his interest."

"No," said Piedro; "that is not his nature. I know him from a child, and we had better think of some other house for to-night's business."

"None other; none but this," cried his companion, with an oath. "My mind is determined upon this, and you must obey your leader: recollect the fate of him who failed me yesterday."

The person to whom he alluded was one of the gang of robbers who had been assassinated by his companions for hesitating to commit some crime suggested by their leader. No tyranny is so dreadful as that which is exercised by villains over their young accomplices, who become their slaves. Piedro, who was of a cowardly nature, trembled at the threatening countenance of his captain, and promised submission.

In the course of the morning, inquiries were made secretly amongst the count's servants; and the two men who were engaged to sit up at the villa that night along with Francisco, were bribed to second the views of this gang of thieves. It was agreed that about midnight the robbers should be let into the house; that Francisco should be tied hand and foot, whilst they carried off their booty. "He is a stubborn chap, though so young, I understand," said the captain of the robbers to his men; "but we carry poniards, and know how to use them. Piedro, you look pale. You don't require to be reminded of what I said to you when we were alone just now?"

Piedro's voice failed, and some of his comrades observed that he was young and new to the business. The captain, who, from being his pretended friend during his wealthy days, had of late become his tyrant, cast a stern look at Piedro, and bid him be sure to be at the old Jew's, which was the place of meeting, in the dusk of the evening. After saying this he departed.

Piedro, when he was alone, tried to collect his thoughts-all his thoughts were full of horror. "Where am I?" said he to himself; "what am I about? Did I understand rightly what he said about poniards? Francisco; oh, Francisco! Excellent, kind, generous Francisco! Yes, I recollect your look when you held the bunch of grapes to my lips, as I sat by the sea-shore deserted by all the world; and now, what friends have I. Robbers and-" The word murderers he could not utter. He again recollected what had been said about poniards, and the longer his mind fixed upon the words, and the look that accompanied them, the more he was shocked. He could not doubt but that it was the serious intention of his accomplices to murder Francisco, if he should make any resistance.

Piedro had at this moment no friend in the world to whom he could apply for advice or assistance. His wretched father died some weeks before this time, in a fit of intoxication. Piedro walked up and down the street, scarcely capable of thinking, much less of coming to any rational resolution.

The hours passed away, the shadows of the houses lengthened under his footsteps, the evening came on, and when it grew dusk, after hesitating in great agony of mind for some time, his fear of the robbers' vengeance prevailed over every other feeling, and he went at the appointed hour to the place of meeting.

The place of meeting was at the house of that Jew to whom he, several months before, sold the diamond cross. That cross which he thought himself so lucky to have stolen, and to have disposed of undetected, was, in fact, the cause of his being in his present dreadful situation. It was at the Jew's that he connected himself with this gang of robbers, to whom he was now become an absolute slave.

"Oh, that I dared to disobey!" said he to himself, with a deep sigh, as he knocked softly at the back door of the Jew's house. The back door opened into a narrow, unfrequented street, and some small rooms at this side of the house were set apart for the reception of guests who desired to have their business kept secret. These rooms were separated by a dark passage from the rest of the house, and numbers of people came to the shop in the front of the house, which looked into a creditable street, without knowing anything more, from the ostensible appearance of the shop, than that it was a kind of pawnbroker's, where old clothes, old iron, and all sorts of refuse goods, might be disposed of conveniently.

At the moment Piedro knocked at the back door, the front shop was full of customers; and the Jew's boy, whose office it was to attend to these signals, let Piedro in, told him that none of his comrades were yet come, and left him in a room by himself.

He was pale and trembling, and felt a cold dew spread over him. He had a leaden image of Saint Januarius tied round his neck, which, in the midst of his wickedness, he superstitiously preserved as a sort of charm, and on this he kept his eyes stupidly fixed, as he sat alone in this gloomy place.

He listened from time to time, but he heard no noise at the side of the house where he was. His accomplices did not arrive, and, in a sort of impatient terror, the attendant upon an evil conscience, he flung open the door of his cell, and groped his way through the passage which he knew led to the public shop. He longed to hear some noise, and to mix with the living. The Jew, when Piedro entered the shop, was bargaining with a poor, thin-looking man about some gunpowder.

"I don't deny that it has been wet," said the man, "but since it was in the bucket of water, it has been carefully dried. I tell you the simple truth, that so soon after the grand eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the people of Naples will not relish fireworks. My poor little rockets, and even my Catherine-wheels, will have no effect. I am glad to part with all I have in this line of business. A few days ago I had fine things in readiness for the Countess de Flora's birthday, which was to have been celebrated at the count's villa."

"Why do you fix your eyes on me, friend? What is your discourse to me?" said Piedro, who imagined that the man fixed his eyes upon him as he mentioned the name of the count's villa.

"I did not know that I fixed my eyes upon you; I was thinking of my fireworks," said the poor man, simply. "But now that I do look at you and hear your voice, I recollect having had the pleasure of seeing you before."

"When? where?" said Piedro.

"A great while ago; no wonder you have forgotten me," said the man; "but I can recall the night to your recollection. You were in the street with me the night I let off that unlucky rocket, which frightened the horses, and was the cause of overturning a lady's coach. Don't you remember the circumstance?"

"I have a confused recollection of some such thing," said Piedro, in great embarrassment; and he looked suspiciously at this man, in doubt whether he was cunning, and wanted to sound him, or whether he was so simple as he appeared.

"You did not, perhaps, hear, then," continued the man, "that there was a great search made, after the overturn, for a fine diamond cross, belonging to the lady in the carriage? That lady, though I did not know it till lately, was the Countess de Flora."

"I know nothing of the matter," interrupted Piedro, in great agitation. His confusion was so marked, that the firework-maker could not avoid taking notice of it; and a silence of some moments ensued. The Jew, more practised in dissimulation than Piedro, endeavoured to turn the man's attention back to his rockets and his gunpowder-agreed to take the gunpowder-paid for it in haste, and was, though apparently unconcerned, eager to get rid of him. But this was not so easily done. The man's curiosity was excited, and his suspicions of Piedro were increased every moment by all the dark changes of his countenance. Piedro, overpowered with the sense of guilt, surprised at the unexpected mention of the diamond cross, and of the Count de Flora's villa, stood like one convicted, and seemed fixed to the spot, without power of motion.

"I want to look at the old cambric that you said you had-that would do for making-that you could let me have cheap for artificial flowers," said the firework-maker to the Jew; and as he spoke, his eye from time to time looked towards Piedro.

Piedro felt for the leaden image of the saint, which he wore round his neck. The string which held it cracked, and broke with the pull he gave it. This slight circumstance affected his terrified and superstitious mind more than all the rest. He imagined that at this moment his fate was decided; that Saint Januarius deserted him, and that he was undone. He precipitately followed the firework-man the instant he left the shop, and seizing hold of his arm, whispered, "I must speak to you."

"Speak, then," said the man, astonished.

"Not here; this way," said he, drawing him towards the dark passage: "what I have to say must not be overheard. You are going to the Count de Flora's, are not you?"

"I am," said the man. He was going there to speak to the countess about some artificial flowers; but Piedro thought he was going to speak to her about the diamond cross.

"You are going to give information against me? Nay, hear me, I confess that I purloined that diamond cross; but I can do the count a great service, upon condition that he pardons me. His villa is to be attacked this night by four well armed men. They will set out five hours hence. I am compelled, under the threat of assassination, to accompany them; but I shall do no more. I throw myself upon the count's mercy. Hasten to him-we have no time to lose."

The poor man, who heard this confession, escaped from Piedro the moment he loosed his arm. With all possible expedition he ran to the count's palace in Naples, and related to him all that had been said by Piedro. Some of the count's servants, on whom he could most depend, were at a distant part of the city attending their mistress, but the English gentleman offered the services of his man Arthur. Arthur no sooner heard the business, and understood that Francisco was in danger, than he armed himself without saying one word, saddled his English horse, and was ready to depart before anyone else had finished their exclamations and conjectures.

"But we are not to set out yet," said the servant; "it is but four miles to Torre del Greco; the sbirri (officers of justice) are summoned-they are to go with us-we must wait for them."

They waited, much against Arthur's inclination, a considerable time for these sbirri. At length they set out, and just as they reached the villa, the flash of the pistol was seen from one of the apartments in the house. The robbers were there. This pistol was snapped by their captain at poor Francisco, who had bravely asserted that he would, as long as he had life, defend the property committed to his care. The pistol missed fire, for it was charged with some of the damaged powder which the Jew had bought that evening from the firework maker, and which he had sold as excellent immediately afterwards to his favourite customers-the robbers who met at his house.

Arthur, as soon as he perceived the flash of the piece, pressed forward through all the apartments, followed by the count's servants and the officers of justice. At the sudden appearance of so many armed men, the robbers stood dismayed. Arthur eagerly shook Francisco's hand, congratulating him upon his safety, and did not perceive, till he had given him several rough friendly shakes, that his arm was wounded, and that he was pale with the loss of blood.

"It is not much-only a slight wound," said Francisco; "one that I should have escaped, if I had been upon my guard; but the sight of a face that I little expected to see in such company took from me all presence of mind; and one of the ruffians stabbed me here in the arm, whilst I stood in stupid astonishment."

"Oh! take me to prison! take me to prison-I am weary of life-I am a wretch not fit to live!" cried Piedro, holding his hands to be tied by the sbirri.

The next morning Piedro was conveyed to prison; and as he passed through the streets of Naples he was met by several of those who had known him when he was a child. "Ay," said they, as he went by, "his father encouraged him in cheating when he was but a child; and see what he is come to, now he is a man!" He was ordered to remain twelve months in solitary confinement. His captain and his accomplices were sent to the galleys, and the Jew was banished from Naples.

And now, having got these villains out of the way, let us return to honest Francisco. His wound was soon healed. Arthur was no bad surgeon, for he let his patient get well as fast as he pleased; and Carlo and Rosetta nursed him with so much kindness, that he was almost sorry to find himself perfectly recovered.

"Now that you are able to go out," said Francisco's father to him, "you must come and look at my new house, my dear son."

"Your new house, father?"

"Yes, son, and a charming one it is, and a handsome piece of land near it-all at a safe distance, too, from Mount Vesuvius; and can you guess how I came by it?-it was given to me for having a good son."

"Yes," cried Carlo; "the inhabitants of Resina, and several who had property near Terre del Greco, and whose houses and lives were saved by your intrepidity in carrying the materials for the fireworks and the gunpowder out of this dangerous place, went in a body to the duke, and requested that he would mention your name and these facts to the king, who, amongst the grants he has made to the sufferers by the late eruption of Mount Vesuvius, has been pleased to say that he gives this house and garden to your father, because you have saved the property and lives of many of his subjects."

The value of a handsome portion of furniture, plate, etc., in the Count de Flora's villa, was, according to the count's promise, given to him; and this money he divided between his own family and that of the good carpenter who first put a pencil into his hands. Arthur would not accept of any present from him. To Mr. Lee, the English gentleman, he offered one of his own drawings-a fruit-piece.

"I like this very well," said Arthur, as he examined the drawing, "but I should like this melon better if it was a little bruised. It is now three years ago since I was going to buy that bruised melon from you; you showed me your honest nature then, though you were but a boy; and I have found you the same ever since. A good beginning makes a good ending-an honest boy will make an honest man; and honesty is the best policy, as you have proved to all who wanted the proof, I hope."

"Yes," added Francisco's father, "I think it is pretty plain that Piedro the Cunning has not managed quite so well as Francisco the Honest."

TARLTON.

Delightful task! to rear the tender thought,-

To teach the young idea how to shoot,-

To pour the fresh instruction o'er the mind,-

To breathe th' enlivening spirit,-and to fix

The generous purpose in the glowing breast.

Thomson.

Young Hardy was educated by Mr. Freeman, a very excellent master, at one of our rural Sunday schools. He was honest, obedient, active and good-natured, hence he was esteemed by his master; and being beloved by all his companions who were good, he did not desire to be loved by the bad; nor was he at all vexed or ashamed when idle, mischievous or dishonest boys attempted to plague or ridicule him. His friend Loveit, on the contrary, wished to be universally liked, and his highest ambition was to be thought the best natured boy in the school-and so he was. He usually went by the name of Poor Loveit, and everybody pitied him when he got into disgrace, which he frequently did, for though he had a good disposition, he was led to do things which he knew to be wrong merely because he could never have the courage to say "No," because he was afraid to offend the ill-natured, and could not bear to be laughed at by fools.

One fine autumn evening, all the boys were permitted to go out to play in a pleasant green meadow near the school. Loveit and another boy, called Tarlton, began to play a game of battledore and shuttlecock, and a large party stood by to look on, for they were the best players at battledore and shuttlecock in the school, and this was a trial of skill between them. When they had got it up to three hundred and twenty, the game became very interesting. The arms of the combatants tired that they could scarcely wield the battledores. The shuttlecock began to waver in the air; now it almost touched the ground, and now, to the astonishment of the spectators, mounted again high over their heads: yet the strokes became feebler and feebler; and "Now, Loveit!" "Now, Tarlton!" resounded on all sides. For another minute the victory was doubtful; but at length the setting sun, shining full in Loveit's face, so dazzled his eyes that he could no longer see the shuttlecock, and it fell at his feet.

After the first shout for Tarlton's triumph was over, everybody exclaimed, "Poor Loveit! he's the best natured fellow in the world! What a pity that he did not stand with his back to the sun!"

"Now, I dare you all to play another game with me," cried Tarlton, vauntingly; and as he spoke, he tossed the shuttlecock up with all his force-with so much force that it went over the hedge and dropped into a lane, which went close beside the field. "Hey-day!" said Tarlton, "what shall we do now?"

The boys were strictly forbidden to go into the lane; and it was upon their promise not to break this command, that they were allowed to play in the adjoining field.

No other shuttlecock was to be had and their play was stopped. They stood on the top of the bank, peeping over the hedge. "I see it yonder," said Tarlton; "I wish somebody would get it. One could get over the gate at the bottom of the field, and be back again in half a minute," added he, looking at Loveit. "But you know we must not go into the lane," said Loveit, hesitatingly. "Pugh!" said Tarlton, "why, now, what harm could it do?"

"I don't know," said Loveit, drumming upon his battledore; "but-"

"You don't know, man! why, then, what are you afraid of, I ask you?" Loveit coloured, went on drumming, and again, in a lower voice, said "he didn't know." But upon Tarlton's repeating, in a more insolent tone, "I ask you, man, what you're afraid of?" he suddenly left off drumming, and looking round, said, "he was not afraid of anything that he knew of."

"Yes, but you are," said Hardy, coming forward.

"Am I?" said Loveit; "of what, pray, am I afraid?"

"Of doing wrong!"

"Afraid of doing wrong!" repeated Tarlton, mimicking him, so that he made everybody laugh. "Now, hadn't you better say afraid of being flogged?"

"No," said Hardy, coolly, after the laugh had somewhat subsided, "I am as little afraid of being flogged as you are, Tarlton; but I meant-"

"No matter what you meant; why should you interfere with your wisdom and your meanings; nobody thought of asking you to stir a step for us; but we asked Loveit, because he's the best fellow in the world."

"And for that very reason you should not ask him, because, you know he can't refuse you anything."

"Indeed, though," cried Loveit, piqued, "there you're mistaken, for I could refuse if I chose it."

Hardy smiled; and Loveit, half afraid of his contempt, and half afraid of Tarlton's ridicule, stood doubtful, and again had recourse to his battledore, which he balanced most curiously upon his forefinger. "Look at him!-now do look at him!" cried Tarlton; "did you ever in your life see anybody look so silly?-Hardy has him quite under his thumb; he's so mortally afraid of Parson Prig, that he dare not, for the soul of him, turn either of his eyes from the tip of his nose; look how he squints!"

"I don't squint," said Loveit, looking up, "and nobody has me under his thumb! and what Hardy said was only for fear I should get in disgrace; he's the best friend I have."

Loveit spoke this with more than usual spirit, for both his heart and his pride were touched.

"Come along, then," said Hardy, taking him by the arm in an affectionate manner; and he was just going, when Tarlton called after him, "Ay, go along with its best friend, and take care it does not get into a scrape;-good-bye, Little Panado!"

"Whom do they call Little Panado?" said Loveit, turning his head hastily back.

"Never mind," said Hardy, "what does it signify?"

"No," said Loveit, "to be sure it does not signify; but one does not like to be called Little Panado: besides," added he, after going a few steps farther, "they'll all think it so ill-natured. I had better go back, and just tell them that I'm very sorry I can't get their shuttlecock; do come back with me."

"No," said Hardy, "I can't go back; and you'd better not."

"But, I assure you, I won't stay a minute; wait for me," added Loveit; and he slunk back again to prove that he was not Little Panado.

Once returned, the rest followed, of course; for to support his character of good-nature he was obliged to yield to the entreaties of his companions, and to show his spirit, leapt over the gate, amidst the acclamations of the little mob:-he was quickly out of sight.

"Here," cried he, returning in about five minutes, quite out of breath, "I've got the shuttlecock; and I'll tell you what I've seen," cried he, panting for breath.

"What?" cried everybody, eagerly.

"Why, just at the turn of the corner, at the end of the lane"-panting.

"Well," said Tarlton, impatiently, "do go on."

"Let me just take breath first."

"Pugh-never mind your breath."

"Well, then, just at the turn of the corner, at the end of the lane, as I was looking about for the shuttlecock, I heard a great rustling somewhere near me, and so I looked where it could come from; and I saw, in a nice little garden, on the opposite side of the way, a boy, about as big as Tarlton, sitting in a great tree, shaking the branches: so I called to the boy, to beg one; but he said he could not give me one, for that they were his grandfather's; and just at that minute, from behind a gooseberry bush, up popped the uncle; the grandfather poked his head out of the window; so I ran off as fast as my legs would carry me though I heard him bawling after me all the way."

"And let him bawl," cried Tarlton; "he shan't bawl for nothing; I'm determined we'll have some of his fine large rosy apples before I sleep to-night."

At this speech a general silence ensued; everybody kept their eyes fixed upon Tarlton, except Loveit, who looked down, apprehensive that he should be drawn on much farther than he intended. "Oh, indeed!" said he to himself, "as Hardy told me, I had better not have come back!"

Regardless of this confusion, Tarlton continued, "But before I say any more, I hope we have no spies amongst us. If there is any one of you afraid to be flogged, let him march off this instant!"

Loveit coloured, bit his lips, wished to go, but had not the courage to move first. He waited to see what everybody else would do: nobody stirred; so Loveit stood still.

"Well, then," cried Tarlton, giving his hand to the boy next him, then to the next, "your word and honour that you won't betray me; but stand by me, and I'll stand by you." Each boy gave his hand and his promise; repeating, "Stand by me, and I'll stand by you."

Loveit hung back till the last; and had almost twisted off the button of the boy's coat who screened him, when Tarlton came up, holding out his hand, "Come, Loveit, lad, you're in for it: stand by me, and I'll stand by you."

"Indeed, Tarlton," expostulated he, without looking him in the face, "I do wish you'd give up this scheme; I daresay all the apples are gone by this time; I wish you would. Do, pray, give up this scheme."

"What scheme, man? you have'n't heard it yet; you may as well know your text before you begin preaching."

The corners of Loveit's mouth could not refuse to smile, though in his heart he felt not the slightest inclination to laugh.

"Why, I don't know you, I declare I don't know you to-day," said Tarlton; "you used to be the best natured most agreeable lad in the world, and would do anything one asked you; but you're quite altered of late, as we were saying just now, when you skulked away with Hardy: come,-do, man, pluck up a little spirit, and be one of us, or you'll make us all hate you."

"Hate me!" repeated Loveit, with terror; "no, surely, you won't all hate me!" and he mechanically stretched out his hand which Tarlton shook violently, saying, "Ay, now, that's right."

"Ay, now, that's wrong!" whispered Loveit's conscience; but his conscience was of no use to him, for it was always overpowered by the voice of numbers; and though he had the wish, he never had the power, to do right. "Poor Loveit! I knew he would not refuse us," cried his companions; and even Tarlton, the moment he shook hands with him, despised him. It is certain that weakness of mind is despised both by the good and the bad.

The league being thus formed, Tarlton assumed all the airs of commander, explained his schemes, and laid the plan of attack upon the poor old man's apple-tree. It was the only one he had the world. We shall not dwell upon their consultation; for the amusement of contriving such expeditions is often the chief thing which induces idle boys to engage in them.

There was a small window at the end of the back staircase, through which, between nine and ten o'clock at night, Tarlton, accompanied by Loveit and another boy, crept out. It was a moonlight night, and after crossing the field, and climbing the gate, directed by Loveit, who now resolved to go through the affair with spirit, they proceeded down the lane with rash yet fearful steps.

At a distance Loveit saw the white washed cottage, and the apple-tree beside it. They quickened their pace, and with some difficulty scrambled through the hedge which fenced the garden, though not without being scratched and torn by the briers. Everything was silent. Yet now and then, at every rustling of the leaves, they started, and their hearts beat violently. Once, as Loveit was climbing the apple-tree, he thought he heard a door in the cottage open, and earnestly begged his companions to desist and return home. This, however, he could by no means persuade them to do, until they had filled their pockets with apples; then, to his great joy, they returned, crept in at the window and each retired, as softly as possible, to his own apartment.

Loveit slept in the room with Hardy, whom he had left fast asleep, and whom he now was extremely afraid of awakening. All the apples were emptied out of Loveit's pockets, and lodged with Tarlton till the morning, for fear the smell should betray the secret to Hardy. The room door was apt to creak, but it was opened with such precaution, that no noise could be heard, and Loveit found his friend as fast asleep as when he left him.

"Ah," said he to himself, "how quietly he sleeps! I wish I had been sleeping too." The reproaches of Loveit's conscience, however, served no other purpose but to torment him; he had not sufficient strength of mind to be good. The very next night, in spite of all his fears, and all his penitence, and all his resolutions, by a little fresh ridicule and persuasion he was induced to accompany the same party on a similar expedition. We must observe, that the necessity for continuing their depredations became stronger the third day; for, though at first only a small party had been in the secret, by degrees it was divulged to the whole school; and it was necessary to secure secrecy by sharing the booty.

Everyone was astonished that Hardy, with all his quickness and penetration, had not yet discovered their proceedings; but Loveit could not help suspecting that he was not quite so ignorant as he appeared to be. Loveit had strictly kept his promise of secrecy; but he was by no means an artful boy; and in talking to his friend, conscious that he had something to conceal, he was perpetually on the point of betraying himself; then recollecting his engagement, he blushed, stammered, bungled; and upon Hardy's asking what he meant, would answer with a silly, guilty countenance, that he did not know; or abruptly break off, saying, "Oh nothing! nothing at all!"

It was in vain that he urged Tarlton to permit him to consult his friend. A gloom overspread Tarlton's brow when he began to speak on the subject, and he always returned a peremptory refusal, accompanied with some such taunting expression as this-"I wish we had nothing to do with such a sneaking fellow; he'll betray us all, I see, before we have done with him."

"Well," said Loveit to himself, "so I am abused after all, and called a sneaking fellow for my pains; that's rather hard, to be sure, when I've got so little by the job."

In truth he had not got much; for in the division of the booty only one apple, and half of another, which was only half ripe, happened to fall to his share; though, to be sure, when they had all eaten their apples, he had the satisfaction to hear everybody declare they were very sorry they had forgotten to offer some of theirs to "poor Loveit."

In the meantime, the visits to the apple-tree had been now too frequently repeated to remain concealed from the old man who lived in the cottage. He used to examine his only tree very frequently, and missing numbers of rosy apples, which he had watched ripening, he, though not prone to suspicion, began to think that there was something going wrong; especially as a gap was made in his hedge, and there were several small footsteps in his flower beds.

The good old man was not at all inclined to give pain to any living creature, much less to children, of whom he was particularly fond. Nor was he in the least avaricious, for though he was not rich, he had enough to live upon, because he had been very industrious in his youth; and he was always very ready to part with the little he had. Nor was he a cross old man. If anything would have made him angry, it would have been the seeing his favourite tree robbed, as he had promised himself the pleasure of giving his red apples to his grandchildren on his birthday. However, he looked up at the tree in sorrow rather than in anger, and leaning upon his staff, he began to consider what he had best do.

"If I complain to their master," said he to himself, "they will certainly be flogged, and that I should be sorry for: yet they must not be let to go on stealing; that would be worse still, for it would surely bring them to the gallows in the end. Let me see-oh, ay, that will do; I will borrow farmer Kent's dog Barker, he'll keep them off, I'll answer for it."

Farmer Kent lent his dog Barker, cautioning his neighbour, at the same time, to be sure to chain him well, for he was the fiercest mastiff in England. The old man, with farmer Kent's assistance, chained him fast to the trunk of the apple-tree.

Night came; and Tarlton, Loveit and his companions, returned at the usual hour. Grown bolder now by frequent success, they came on talking and laughing. But the moment they had set their foot in the garden, the dog started up; and, shaking the chain as he sprang forward, barked with unremitting fury. They stood still as if fixed to the spot. There was just moonlight enough to see the dog. "Let us try the other side of the tree," said Tarlton. But to whichever side they turned, the dog flew round in an instant, barking with increased fury.

"He'll break his chain and tear us to pieces," cried Tarlton; and, struck with terror, he immediately threw down the basket he had brought with him, and betook himself to flight, with the greatest precipitation. "Help me! oh, pray, help me! I can't get through the hedge," cried Loveit, in a lamentable tone, whilst the dog growled hideously, and sprang forward to the extremity of his chain. "I can't get out! Oh, for God's sake, stay for me one minute, dear Tarlton!" He called in vain; he was left to struggle through his difficulties by himself; and of all his dear friends not one turned back to help him. At last, torn and terrified, he got through the hedge and ran home, despising his companions for their selfishness. Nor could he help observing that Tarlton, with all his vaunted prowess, was the first to run away from the appearance of danger.

The next morning Loveit could not help reproaching the party with their conduct. "Why could not you, any of you, stay one minute to help me?" said he.

"We did not hear you call," answered one.

"I was so frightened," said another, "I would not have turned back for the whole world."

"And you, Tarlton?"

"I," said Tarlton; "had not I enough to do to take care of myself, you blockhead? Everyone for himself in this world!"

"So I see," said Loveit, gravely.

"Well, man! is there anything strange in that?"

"Strange! why, yes; I thought you all loved me!"

"Lord love you, lad! so we do; but we love ourselves better."

"Hardy would not have served me so, however," said Loveit, turning away in disgust. Tarlton was alarmed. "Pugh!" said he; "what nonsense have you taken into your brain! Think no more about it. We are all very sorry, and beg your pardon; come, shake hands, forgive and forget."

Loveit gave his hand, but gave it rather coldly. "I forgive it with all my heart," said he; "but I cannot forget it so soon!"

"Why, then, you are not such a good humoured fellow as we thought you were. Surely you cannot bear malice, Loveit." Loveit smiled, and allowed that he certainly could not bear malice. "Well, then, come; you know at the bottom we all love you, and would do anything in the world for you." Poor Loveit, flattered in his foible, began to believe that they did love him at the bottom, as they said, and even with his eyes open consented again to be duped.

"How strange it is," thought he, "that I should set such value upon the love of those I despise! When I'm once out of this scrape, I'll have no more to do with them, I'm determined."

Compared with his friend Hardy, his new associates did indeed appear contemptible; for all this time Hardy had treated him with uniform kindness, avoided to pry into his secrets, yet seemed ready to receive his confidence, if it had been offered.

After school in the evening, as he was standing silently beside Hardy, who was ruling a sheet of paper for him, Tarlton, in his brutal manner, came up, and seizing him by the arm, cried, "Come along with me, Loveit, I've something to say to you."

"I can't come now," said Loveit, drawing away his arm.

"Ah, do come now," said Tarlton, in a voice of persuasion.

"Well, I'll come presently."

"Nay, but do, pray; there's a good fellow, come now, because I have something to say to you."

"What is it you've got to say to me? I wish you'd let me alone," said Loveit; yet at the same time he suffered himself to be led away.

Tarlton took particular pains to humour him and bring him into temper again; and even though he was not very apt to part with his playthings, went so far as to say, "Loveit, the other day you wanted a top; I'll give you mine if you desire it."

Loveit thanked him, and was overjoyed at the thought of possessing this top. "But what did you want to say to me just now?"

"Ay, we'll talk of that presently; not yet-when we get out of hearing."

"Nobody is near us," said Loveit.

"Come a little farther however," said Tarlton, looking round suspiciously.

"Well now, well?"

"You know the dog that frightened us last night?"

"Yes."

"It will never frighten us again."

"Won't it? how so?"

"Look here," said Tarlton, drawing something from his pocket wrapped in a blue handkerchief.

"What's that?" Tarlton opened it. "Raw meat!" exclaimed Loveit. "How came you by it?"

"Tom, the servant boy, Tom got it for me; and I'm to give him sixpence."

"And is it for the dog?"

"Yes; I vowed I'd be revenged on him, and after this he'll never bark again."

"Never bark again! What do you mean? Is it poison?" exclaimed Loveit, starting back with horror.

"Only poison for a dog," said Tarlton, confused; "you could not look more shocking if it was poison for a Christian."

Loveit stood for nearly a minute in profound silence. "Tarlton," said he at last, in a changed tone and altered manner, "I did not know you; I will have no more to do with you."

"Nay, but stay," said Tarlton, catching hold of his arm, "stay; I was only joking."

"Let go my arm-you were in earnest."

"But then that was before I knew there was any harm. If you think there's any harm?"

"If," said Loveit.

"Why, you know, I might not know; for Tom told me it's a thing that's often done. Ask Tom."

"I'll ask nobody! Surely we know better what's right and wrong than Tom does."

"But only just ask him, to hear what he'll say."

"I don't want to hear what he'll say," cried Loveit, vehemently: "the dog will die in agonies-in agonies! There was a dog poisoned at my father's-I saw him in the yard. Poor creature! He lay and howled and writhed himself!"

"Poor creature! Well, there's no harm done now," cried Tarlton, in a hypocritical tone. But though he thought fit to dissemble with Loveit, he was thoroughly determined in his purpose.

Poor Loveit, in haste to get away, returned to his friend Hardy; but his mind was in such agitation, that he neither talked nor moved like himself; and two or three times his heart was so full that he was ready to burst into tears.

"How good-natured you are to me," said he to Hardy, as he was trying vainly to entertain him; "but if you knew-" Here he stopped short, for the bell for evening prayer rang, and they all took their places

, and knelt down. After prayers, as they were going to bed, Loveit stopped Tarlton,-"Well!" asked he, in an inquiring manner, fixing his eyes upon him.

"Well!" replied Tarlton, in an audacious tone, as if he meant to set his inquiring eye at defiance.

"What do you mean to do to-night?"

"To go to sleep, as you do, I suppose," replied Tarlton, turning away abruptly, and whistling as he walked off.

"Oh, he has certainly changed his mind!" said Loveit to himself, "else he could not whistle."

About ten minutes after this, as he and Hardy were undressing, Hardy suddenly recollected that he had left his new kite out upon the grass. "Oh," said he, "it will be quite spoiled before morning!"

"Call Tom," said Loveit, "and bid him bring it in for you in a minute." They both went to the top of the stairs to call Tom; no one answered. They called again louder, "Is Tom below?"

"I'm here," answered he at last, coming out of Tarlton's room with a look of mixed embarrassment and effrontery. And as he was receiving Hardy's commission, Loveit saw the corner of the blue handkerchief hanging out of his pocket. This excited fresh suspicions in Loveit's mind; but, without saying one word, he immediately stationed himself at the window in his room, which looked out towards the lane; and, as the moon was risen, he could see if anyone passed that way.

"What are you doing there?" said Hardy, after he had been watching some time; "why don't you come to bed?" Loveit returned no answer, but continued standing at the window. Nor did he watch long in vain. Presently he saw Tom gliding slowly along a by-path, and get over the gate into the lane.

"He's gone to do it!" exclaimed Loveit aloud, with an emotion which he could not command.

"Who's gone? to do what?" cried Hardy, starting up.

"How cruel! how wicked!" continued Loveit.

"What's cruel-what's wicked? speak out at once!" returned Hardy, in that commanding tone which, in moments of danger, strong minds feel themselves entitled to assume towards weak ones. Loveit instantly, though in an incoherent manner, explained the affair to him. Scarcely had the words passed his lips, when Hardy sprang up, and began dressing himself without saying one syllable.

"For God's sake, what are you going to do?" said Loveit, in great anxiety. "They'll never forgive me! don't betray me! they'll never forgive! pray, speak to me! only say you won't betray us."

"I will not betray you, trust to me," said Hardy: and he left the room, and Loveit stood in amazement; while, in the meantime, Hardy, in hopes of overtaking Tom before the fate of the poor dog was decided, ran with all possible speed across the meadow, then down the lane. He came up with Tom just as he was climbing the bank into the old man's garden. Hardy, too much out of breath to speak, seized hold of him, dragged him down, detaining him with a firm grasp, whilst he panted for utterance.

"What, Master Hardy, is it you? what's the matter? what do you want?"

"I want the poisoned meat that you have in your pocket."

"Who told you that I had any such thing?" said Tom, clapping his hand upon his guilty pocket.

"Give it me quietly, and I'll let you off."

"Sir, upon my word I haven't! I didn't! I don't know what you mean," said Tom, trembling, though he was by far the stronger of the two. "Indeed, I don't know what you mean."

"You do," said Hardy, with great indignation: and a violent struggle immediately commenced.

The dog, now alarmed by the voices, began to bark outrageously. Tom was terrified lest the old man should come out to see what was the matter; his strength forsook him, and flinging the handkerchief and meat over the hedge, he ran away with all his speed. The handkerchief fell within reach of the dog, who instantly snapped at it; luckily it did not come untied. Hardy saw a pitchfork on a dunghill close beside him, and, seizing upon it, stuck it into the handkerchief. The dog pulled, tore, growled, grappled, yelled; it was impossible to get the handkerchief from between his teeth; but the knot was loosed, the meat, unperceived by the dog, dropped out, and while he dragged off the handkerchief in triumph, Hardy, with inexpressible joy, plunged the pitchfork into the poisoned meat, and bore it away.

Never did hero retire with more satisfaction from a field of battle. Full of the pleasure of successful benevolence, Hardy tripped joyfully home, and vaulted over the window sill, when the first object he beheld was Mr. Power, the usher, standing at the head of the stairs, with his candle in his hand.

"Come up, whoever you are," said Mr. William Power, in a stern voice. "I thought I should find you out at last. Come up, whoever you are!" Hardy obeyed without reply.-"Hardy!" exclaimed Mr. Power, starting back with astonishment; "is it you, Mr. Hardy?" repeated he, holding the light to his face. "Why, sir," said he, in a sneering tone, "I'm sure if Mr. Trueman was here he wouldn't believe his own eyes; but for my part I saw through you long since; I never liked saints, for my share. Will you please to do me the favour, sir, if it is not too much trouble, to empty your pockets." Hardy obeyed in silence. "Heyday! meat! raw meat! what next?"

"That's all," said Hardy, emptying his pockets inside out.

"This is all," said Mr. Power, taking up the meat.

"Pray, sir," said Hardy, eagerly, "let that meat be burned, it is poisoned."

"Poisoned!" cried Mr. William Power, letting it drop out of his fingers; "you wretch!" looking at him with a menacing air: "what is all this? Speak." Hardy was silent. "Why don't you speak?" cried he, shaking him by the shoulder impatiently. Still Hardy was silent. "Down upon your knees this minute and confess all: tell me where you've been, what you've been doing, and who are your accomplices, for I know there is a gang of you; so," added he, pressing heavily upon Hardy's shoulder, "down upon your knees this minute, and confess the whole, that's your only way now to get off yourself. If you hope for my pardon, I can tell you it's not to be had without asking for."

"Sir," said Hardy, in a firm but respectful voice, "I have no pardon to ask, I have nothing to confess; I am innocent; but if I were not, I would never try to get off myself by betraying my companions."

"Very well, sir! very well! very fine! stick to it, stick to it, I advise you, and we shall see. And how will you look to-morrow, Mr. Innocent, when my uncle, the doctor, comes home?"

"As I do now, sir," said Hardy, unmoved.

His composure threw Mr. Power into a rage too great for utterance. "Sir," continued Hardy, "ever since I have been at school, I never told a lie, and therefore, sir, I hope you will believe me now. Upon my word and honour, sir, I have done nothing wrong."

"Nothing wrong? Better and better! what, when I caught you going out at night?"

"That, to be sure, was wrong," said Hardy, recollecting himself; "but except that-"

"Except that, sir! I will except nothing. Come along with me, young gentleman, your time for pardon is past."

Saying these words, he pulled Hardy along a narrow passage to a small closet, set apart for desperate offenders, and usually known by the name of the Black Hole. "There, sir, take up your lodging there for to-night," said he, pushing him in; "to-morrow I'll know more, or I'll know why," added he, double locking the door, with a tremendous noise, upon his prisoner, and locking also the door at the end of the passage, so that no one could have access to him. "So now I think I have you safe!" said Mr. William Power to himself, stalking off with steps which made the whole gallery resound, and which made many a guilty heart tremble.

The conversation which had passed between Hardy and Mr. Power at the head of the stairs had been anxiously listened to; but only a word or two here and there had been distinctly overheard.

The locking of the black hole door was a terrible sound-some knew not what it portended, and others knew too well. All assembled in the morning with faces of anxiety. Tarlton and Loveit's were the most agitated: Tarlton for himself, Loveit for his friend, for himself, for everybody. Every one of the party, and Tarlton at their head, surrounded him with reproaches; and considered him as the author of the evils which hung over them. "How could you do so? and why did you say anything to Hardy about it? when you had promised, too! Oh! what shall we all do? what a scrape you have brought us into, Loveit, it's all your fault!"

"All my fault!" repeated poor Loveit, with a sigh; "well, that is hard."

"Goodness! there's the bell," exclaimed a number of voices at once. "Now for it!" They all stood in a half circle for morning prayers. They listened-"Here he is coming! No-Yes-Here he is!" And Mr. William Power, with a gloomy brow, appeared and walked up to his place at the head of the room. They knelt down to prayers, and the moment they rose, Mr. William Power, laying his hand upon the table, cried, "Stand still, gentlemen, if you please." Everybody stood stock still; he walked out of the circle; they guessed that he was gone for Hardy, and the whole room was in commotion. Each with eagerness asked each what none could answer, "Has he told?" "What has he told?" "Who has he told of?" "I hope he has not told of me," cried they.

"I'll answer for it he has told of all of us," said Tarlton.

"And I'll answer for it he has told of none of us," answered Loveit, with a sigh.

"You don't think he's such a fool, when he can get himself off," said Tarlton.

At this instant the prisoner was led in, and as he passed through the circle, every eye was fixed upon him. His eye fell upon no one, not even upon Loveit, who pulled him by the coat as he passed-everyone felt almost afraid to breathe.

"Well, sir," said Mr. Power, sitting down in Mr. Trueman's elbow-chair, and placing the prisoner opposite to him; "well, sir, what have you to say to me this morning?"

"Nothing, sir," answered Hardy, in a decided, yet modest manner; "nothing but what I said last night."

"Nothing more?"

"Nothing more, sir."

"But I have something more to say to you, sir, then; and a great deal more, I promise you, before I have done with you;" and then, seizing him in a fury, he was just going to give him a severe flogging, when the schoolroom door opened, and Mr. Trueman appeared, followed by an old man whom Loveit immediately knew. He leaned upon his stick as he walked, and in his other hand carried a basket of apples. When they came within the circle, Mr. Trueman stopped short. "Hardy!" exclaimed he, with a voice of unfeigned surprise, whilst Mr. William Power stood with his hand suspended.-"Ay, Hardy, sir," repeated he. "I told him you'd not believe your own eyes."

Mr. Trueman advanced with a slow step. "Now, sir, give me leave," said the usher, eagerly drawing him aside, and whispering.

"So, sir," said Mr. T. when the whisper was done, addressing himself to Hardy, with a voice and manner which, had he been guilty, must have pierced him to the heart, "I find I have been deceived in you; it is but three hours ago that I told your uncle I never had a boy in my school in whom I placed so much confidence; but, after all this show of honour and integrity, the moment my back is turned, you are the first to set an example of disobedience of my orders. Why do I talk of disobeying my commands-you are a thief!"

"I, sir?" exclaimed Hardy, no longer able to repress his feelings.

"You, sir,-you and some others," said Mr. Trueman, looking round the room with a penetrating glance-"you and some others."

"Ay, sir," interrupted Mr. William Power, "get that out of him if you can-ask him."

"I will ask him nothing; I shall neither put his truth nor his honour to the trial; truth and honour are not to be expected amongst thieves."

"I am not a thief! I have never had anything to do with thieves," cried Hardy, indignantly.

"Have you not robbed this old man? Don't you know the taste of these apples?" said Mr. Trueman, taking one out of the basket.

"No, sir; I do not. I never touched one of that old man's apples."

"Never touched one of them! I suppose this is some vile equivocation; you have done worse, you have had the barbarity, the baseness, to attempt to poison his dog; the poisoned meat was found in your pocket last night."

"The poisoned meat was found in my pocket, sir; but I never intended to poison the dog-I saved his life."

"Lord bless him!" said the old man.

"Nonsense-cunning!" said Mr. Power. "I hope you won't let him impose upon you, sir."

"No, he cannot impose upon me; I have a proof he is little prepared for," said Mr. Trueman, producing the blue handkerchief in which the meat had been wrapped.

Tarlton turned pale; Hardy's countenance never changed.

"Don't you know this handkerchief, sir?"

"I do, sir."

"Is it not yours?"

"No, sir."

"Don't you know whose it is?" cried Mr. Power. Hardy was silent.

"Now, gentlemen," said Mr. Trueman, "I am not fond of punishing you; but when I do it, you know, it is always in earnest. I will begin with the eldest of you; I will begin with Hardy, and flog you with my own hands till this handkerchief is owned."

"I'm sure it's not mine," and "I'm sure it's none of mine," burst from every mouth, whilst they looked at each other in dismay; for none but Hardy, Loveit and Tarlton knew the secret. "My cane," said Mr. Trueman, and Mr. Power handed him the cane. Loveit groaned from the bottom of his heart. Tarlton leaned back against the wall with a black countenance. Hardy looked with a steady eye at the cane.

"But first," said Mr. Trueman, laying down the cane, "let us see. Perhaps we may find out the owner of this handkerchief another way," examining the corners. It was torn almost to pieces; but luckily the corner that was marked remained.

"J. T.!" cried Mr. Trueman. Every eye turned upon the guilty Tarlton, who, now as pale as ashes and trembling in every limb, sank down upon his knees, and in a whining voice begged for mercy. "Upon my word and honour, sir, I'll tell you all; I'd never have thought of stealing the apples if Loveit had not first told me of them; and it was Tom who first put the poisoning the dog into my head. It was he that carried the meat, wasn't it?" said he, appealing to Hardy, whose word he knew must be believed. "Oh, dear sir!" continued he as Mr. Trueman began to move towards him, "do let me off; pray do let me off this time! I'm not the only one, indeed, sir! I hope you won't make me an example for the rest. It's very hard I'm to be flogged more than they!"

"I'm not going to flog you."

"Thank you, sir," said Tarlton, getting up and wiping his eyes.

"You need not thank me," said Mr. Trueman. "Take your handkerchief-go out of this room-out of this house; let me never see you more."

"If I had any hopes of him," said Mr. Trueman, as he shut the door after him;-"if I had any hopes of him, I would have punished him;-but I have none. Punishment is meant only to make people better; and those who have any hopes of themselves will know how to submit to it."

At these words Loveit first, and immediately all the rest of the guilty party, stepped out of the ranks, confessed their fault, and declared themselves ready to bear any punishment their master thought proper.

"Oh, they have been punished enough," said the old man; "forgive them, sir."

Hardy looked as if he wished to speak. "Not because you ask it," said Mr. Trueman to the guilty penitents, "though I should be glad to oblige you-it wouldn't be just; but there," pointing to Hardy, "there is one who has merited a reward; the highest I can give him is that of pardoning his companions."

Hardy bowed and his face glowed with pleasure, whilst everybody present sympathized in his feelings.

"I am sure," thought Loveit, "this is a lesson I shall never forget."

"Gentlemen," said the old man, with a faltering voice, "it wasn't for the sake of my apples that I spoke; and you, sir," said he to Hardy, "I thank you for saving my dog. If you please, I'll plant on that mount, opposite the window, a young apple-tree, from my old one. I will water it, and take care of it with my own hands for your sake, as long as I am able. And may God bless you!" laying his trembling hand on Hardy's head; "may God bless you-I'm sure God will bless all such boys as you are."

THE BASKET-WOMAN.

"Toute leur étude était de se complaire et de s'entr'aider." [365a]

Paul et Virginie.

At the foot of a steep, slippery, white hill, near Dunstable, in Bedfordshire, called Chalk Hill, there is a hut, or rather a hovel, which travellers could scarcely suppose could be inhabited, if they did not see the smoke rising from its peaked roof. An old woman lives in this hovel, [365b] and with her a little boy and girl, the children of a beggar who died, and left these orphans perishing with hunger. They thought themselves very happy when the good old woman first took them into her hut and bid them warm themselves at her small fire, and gave them a crust of mouldy bread to eat. She had not much to give, but what she had she gave with good-will. She was very kind to these poor children, and worked hard at her spinning-wheel and at her knitting, to support herself and them. She earned money also in another way. She used to follow all the carriages as they went up Chalk Hill, and when the horses stopped to take breath or to rest themselves, she put stones behind the carriage wheels to prevent them from rolling backwards down the steep, slippery hill.

The little boy and girl loved to stand beside the good natured old woman's spinning-wheel when she was spinning, and to talk to her. At these times she taught them something, which, she said, she hoped they would remember all their lives. She explained to them what is meant by telling the truth, and what it is to be honest. She taught them to dislike idleness, and to wish that they could be useful.

One evening, as they were standing beside her, the little boy said to her, "Grandmother," for that was the name by which she liked that these children should call her-"grandmother, how often you are forced to get up from your spinning-wheel, and to follow the chaises and coaches up that steep hill, to put stones underneath the wheels, to hinder them from rolling back! The people who are in the carriages give you a halfpenny or a penny for doing this, don't they?"

"Yes, child."

"But it is very hard work for you to go up and down that hill. You often say that you are tired, and then you know that you cannot spin all that time. Now if we might go up the hill, and put the stones behind the wheels, you could sit still at your work, and would not the people give us the halfpence? and could not we bring them all to you? Do, pray, dear grandmother, try us for one day-to-morrow, will you?"

"Yes," said the old woman; "I will try what you can do; but I must go up the hill along with you for the first two or three times, for fear you should get yourselves hurt."

So, the next day, the little boy and girl went with their grandmother, as they used to call her, up the steep hill; and she showed the boy how to prevent the wheels from rolling back, by putting stones behind them; and she said, "This is called scotching the wheels;" and she took off the boy's hat and gave it to the little girl, to hold up to the carriage-windows, ready for the halfpence.

When she thought that the children knew how to manage by themselves, she left them, and returned to her spinning-wheel. A great many carriages happened to go by this day, and the little girl received a great many halfpence. She carried them all in her brother's hat to her grandmother in the evening; and the old woman smiled, and thanked the children. She said that they had been useful to her, and that her spinning had gone on finely, because she had been able to sit still at her wheel all day. "But, Paul my boy," said she, "what is the matter with your hand?"

"Only a pinch-only one pinch that I got, as I was putting a stone behind a wheel of a chaise. It does not hurt me much, grandmother; and I've thought of a good thing for to-morrow. I shall never be hurt again, if you will only be so good as to give me the old handle of the broken crutch, grandmother, and the block of wood that lies in the chimney-corner, and that is of no use. I'll make it of some use, if I may have it."

"Take it then, dear," said the old woman; "and you'll find the handle of the broken crutch under my bed."

Paul went to work immediately, and fastened one end of the pole into the block of wood, so as to make something like a dry-rubbing brush. "Look, grandmamma, look at my scotcher. I call this thing my scotcher," said Paul, "because I shall always scotch the wheels with it. I shall never pinch my fingers again; my hands, you see, will be safe at the end of this long stick; and, sister Anne, you need not be at the trouble of carrying any more stones after me up the hill; we shall never want stones any more. My scotcher will do without anything else, I hope. I wish it was morning, and that a carriage would come, that I might run up the hill, and try my scotcher."

"And I wish that as many chaises may go by to-morrow as there did to-day, and that we may bring you as many halfpence, grandmother," said the little girl.

"So do I, my dear Anne," said the old woman; "for I mean that you and your brother shall have all the money that you get to-morrow. You may buy some gingerbread for yourselves, or some of those ripe plums that you saw at the fruit-stall the other day, which is just going into Dunstable. I told you then that I could not afford to buy such things for you; but now that you can earn halfpence for yourselves, children, it is fair should taste a ripe plum and bit of gingerbread for once and a way in your lives."

"We'll bring some of the gingerbread home to her, shan't we, brother?" whispered little Anne. The morning came; but no carriages were heard, though Paul and his sister had risen at five o'clock, that they might be sure to be ready for early travellers. Paul kept his scotcher poised upon his shoulder, and watched eagerly at his station at the bottom of the hill. He did not wait long before a carriage came. He followed it up the hill; and the instant the postillion called to him, and bid him stop the wheels, he put his scotcher behind them, and found that it answered the purpose perfectly well.

Many carriages went by this day, and Paul and Anne received a great many halfpence from the travellers.

When it grew dusk in the evening, Anne said to her brother-"I don't think any more carriages will come by to-day. Let us count the halfpence, and carry them home now to grandmother."

"No, not yet," answered Paul, "let them alone-let them lie still in the hole where I have put them. I daresay more carriages will come by before it is quite dark, and then we shall have more halfpence."

Paul had taken the halfpence out of his hat, and he had put them into a hole in the high bank by the roadside; and Anne said she would not meddle with them, and that she would wait till her brother liked to count them; and Paul said-"If you will stay and watch here, I will go and gather some blackberries for you in the hedge in yonder field. Stand you hereabouts, half-way up the hill, and the moment you see any carriage coming along the road, run as fast as you can and call me."

Anne waited a long time, or what she thought a long time; and she saw no carriage, and she trailed her brother's scotcher up and down till she was tired. Then she stood still, and looked again, and she saw no carriage; so she went sorrowfully into the field, and to the hedge where her brother was gathering blackberries, and she said, "Paul, I'm sadly tired, sadly tired!" said she, "and my eyes are quite strained with looking for chaises; no more chaises will come to-night; and your scotcher is lying there, of no use, upon the ground. Have not I waited long enough for to-day, Paul?"

"Oh, no," said Paul; "here are some blackberries for you; you had better wait a little bit longer. Perhaps a carriage might go by whilst you are standing here talking to me."

Anne, who was of a very obliging temper, and who liked to do what she was asked to do, went back to the place where the scotcher lay; and scarcely had she reached the spot, when she heard the noise of a carriage. She ran to call her brother, and to their great joy, they now saw four chaises coming towards them. Paul, as soon as they went up the hill, followed with his scotcher; first he scotched the wheels of one carriage, then of another; and Anne was so much delighted with observing how well the scotcher stopped the wheels, and how much better it was than stones, that she forgot to go and hold her brother's hat to the travellers for halfpence, till she was roused by the voice of a little rosy girl, who was looking out of the window of one of the chaises. "Come close to the chaise-door," said the little girl; "here are some halfpence for you."

Anne held the hat; and she afterwards went on to the other carriages. Money was thrown to her from each of them; and when they had all gotten safely to the top of the hill, she and her brother sat down upon a large stone by the roadside, to count their treasure. First they began by counting what was in the hat-"One, two, three, four halfpence."

"But, oh, brother, look at this!" exclaimed Anne; "this is not the same as the other halfpence."

"No, indeed, it is not," cried Paul, "it is no halfpenny; it is a guinea, a bright golden guinea!"

"Is it?" said Anne, who had never seen a guinea in her life before, and who did not know its value; "and will it do as well as a halfpenny to buy gingerbread? I'll run to the fruit-stall, and ask the woman; shall I?"

"No, no," said Paul, "you need not ask any woman, or anybody but me; I can tell you all about it, as well as anybody in the whole world."

"The whole world! Oh, Paul, you forgot. Not so well as my grandmother."

"Why, not so well as my grandmother, perhaps, but, Anne, I can tell you that you must not talk yourself, Anne, but you must listen to me quietly, or else you won't understand what I am going to tell you, for I can assure you that I don't think I quite understood it myself, Anne, the first time my grandmother told it to me, though I stood stock still listening my best."

Prepared by this speech to hear something very difficult to be understood, Anne looked very grave, and her brother explained to her, that, with a guinea, she might buy two hundred and fifty-two times as many plums as she could get for a penny.

"Why, Paul, you know the fruit-woman said she would give us a dozen plums for a penny. Now, for this little guinea, would she give us two hundred and fifty-two dozen?"

"If she has so many, and if we like to have so many, to be sure she will," said Paul, "but I think we should not like to have two hundred and fifty-two dozen of plums; we could not eat such a number."

"But we could give some of them to my grandmother," said Anne.

"But still there would be too many for her, and for us, too," said Paul, "and when we had eaten the plums, there would be an end to all the pleasure. But now I'll tell you what I am thinking of, Anne, that we might buy something for my grandmother, that would be very useful to her indeed, with the guinea-something that would last a great while."

"What, brother? What sort of thing?"

"Something that she said she wanted very much last winter, when she was so ill with the rheumatism-something that she said yesterday, when you were making her bed, she wished she might be able to buy before next winter."

"I know, I know what you mean!" said Anne-"a blanket. Oh, yes, Paul, that will be much better than plums; do let us buy a blanket for her; how glad she will be to see it! I will make her bed with the new blanket, and then bring her to see it. But, Paul, how shall we buy a blanket? Where are blankets to be got?"

"Leave that to me, I'll manage that. I know where blankets can be got. I saw one hanging out of a shop the day I went last to Dunstable."

"You have seen a great many things at Dunstable, brother."

"Yes, a great many; but I never saw anything there or anywhere else, that I wished for half so much as I did for the blanket for my grandmother. Do you remember how she used to shiver with the cold last winter? I'll buy the blanket to-morrow. I'm going to Dunstable with her spinning."

"And you'll bring the blanket to me, and I shall make the bed very neatly, that will be all right-all happy!" said Anne, clapping her hands.

"But stay! Hush! don't clap your hands so, Anne; it will not be all happy, I'm afraid," said Paul, and his countenance changed, and he looked very grave. "It will not be all right, I'm afraid, for there is one thing we have neither of us thought of, but that we ought to think about. We cannot buy the blanket, I'm afraid."

"Why, Paul, why?"

"Because I don't think this guinea is honestly ours."

"Nay, brother, but I'm sure it is honestly ours. It was given to us, and grandmother said all that was given to us to-day was to be our own."

"But who gave it to you, Anne?"

"Some of the people in those chaises, Paul. I don't know which of them, but I daresay it was the little rosy girl."

"No," said Paul, "for when she called you to the chaise door, she said, 'Here's some halfpence for you.' Now, if she gave you the guinea, she must have given it to you by mistake."

"Well, but perhaps some of the people in the other chaises gave it to me, and did not give it to me by mistake, Paul. There was a gentleman reading in one of the chaises and a lady, who looked very good-naturedly at me, and then the gentleman put down his book and put his head out of the window, and looked at your scotcher, brother, and he asked me if that was your own making; and when I said yes, and that I was your sister he smiled at me, and put his hand into his waistcoat pocket, and threw a handful of halfpence into the hat, and I daresay he gave us the guinea along with them because he liked your scotcher so much."

"Why," said Paul, "that might be, to be sure, but I wish I was quite certain of it."

"Then, as we are not quite certain, had not we best go and ask my grandmother what she thinks about it?"

Paul thought this was excellent advice; and he was not a silly boy, who did not like to follow good advice. He went with his sister directly to his grandmother, showed her the guinea, and told her how they came by it.

"My dear, honest children," said she, "I am very glad you told me all this. I am very glad that you did not buy either the plums or the blanket with this guinea. I'm sure it is not honestly ours. Those who threw it you gave it you by mistake, I warrant; and what I would have you do is, to go to Dunstable, and try if you can, at either of the inns find out the person who gave it to you. It is now so late in the evening that perhaps the travellers will sleep at Dunstable, instead of going on the next stage; and it is likely that whosoever gave you a guinea instead of a halfpenny has found out their mistake by this time. All you can do is to go and inquire for the gentleman who was reading in the chaise."

"Oh!" interrupted Paul, "I know a good way of finding him out. I remember it was a dark green chaise with red wheels: and I remember I read the innkeeper's name upon the chaise, 'John Nelson.' (I am much obliged to you for teaching me to read, grandmother.) You told me yesterday, grandmother, that the names written upon chaises are the innkeepers to whom they belong. I read the name of the innkeeper upon that chaise. It was John Nelson. So Anne and I will go to both the inns in Dunstable, and try to find out this chaise-John Nelson's. Come, Anne; let us set out before it gets quite dark."

Anne and her brother passed with great courage the tempting stall that was covered with gingerbread and ripe plums, and pursued their way steadily through the streets of Dunstable; but Paul, when he came to the shop where he had seen the blanket, stopped for a moment, and said, "It is a great pity, Anne, that the guinea is not ours. However, we are doing what is honest, and that is a comfort. Here, we must go through this gateway, into the inn-yard; we are come to the 'Dun Cow.'"

"Cow!" said Anne, "I see no cow."

"Look up, and you'll see the cow over your head," said Paul-"the sign-the picture. Come, never mind looking at it now; I want to find out the green chaise that has John Nelson's name upon it."

Paul pushed forward, through a crowded passage, till he got into the inn-yard. There was a great noise and bustle. The hostlers were carrying in luggage. The postillions were rubbing down the horses, or rolling the chaises into the coach-house.

"What now! What business have you here, pray?" said a waiter, who almost ran over Paul, as he was crossing the yard in a great hurry to get some empty bottles from the bottle-rack. "You've no business here, crowding up the yard. Walk off, young gentleman, if you please."

"Pray give me leave, sir," said Paul, "to stay a few minutes, to look amongst these chaises for one dark green chaise with red wheels, that has Mr. John Nelson's name written upon it."

"What's that he says about a dark green chaise?" said one of the postillions.

"What should such a one as he is know about chaises?" interrupted the hasty waiter, and he vas going to turn Paul out of the yard; but the hostler caught hold of his arm and said, "Maybe the child has some business here; let's know what he has to say for himself."

The waiter was at this instant luckily obliged to leave them to attend the bell; and Paul told his business to the hostler, who as soon as he saw the guinea and heard the story, shook Paul by the hand, and said, "Stand steady, my honest lad; I'll find the chaise for you, if it is to be found here; but John Nelson's chaises almost always drive to the 'Black Bull.'"

After some difficulty, the green chaise, with John Nelson's name upon it, and the postillion who drove that chaise, were found; and the postillion told Paul that he was just going into the parlour to the gentleman he had driven, to be paid, and that he would carry the guinea with him.

"No," said Paul, "we should like to give it back ourselves."

"Yes," said the hostler; "that they have a right to do."

The postillion made no reply, but looked vexed, and went towards the house, desiring the children would wait in the passage till his return. In the passage there was standing a decent, clean, good natured looking woman, with two huge straw baskets on each side of her. One of the baskets stood a little in the way of the entrance. A man who was pushing his way in, and carried in his hand a string of dead larks hung to a pole, impatient at being stopped, kicked down the straw basket, and all its contents were thrown out. Bright straw hats, and boxes, and slippers, were all thrown in disorder upon the dirty ground.

"Oh, they will be trampled upon! They will be all spoiled!" exclaimed the woman to whom they belonged.

"We'll help you to pick them up if you will let us," cried Paul and Anne; and they immediately ran to her assistance.

When the things were all safe in the basket again, the children expressed a desire to know how such beautiful things could be made of straw; but the woman had not time to answer before the postillion came out of the parlour, and with him a gentleman's servant, who came to Paul, and clapping him upon the back, said, "So, my little chap, I gave you a guinea for a halfpenny, I hear; and I understand you've brought it back again; that's right, give me hold of it."

"No, brother," said Anne, "this is not the gentleman that was reading."

"Pooh, child, I came in Mr. Nelson's green chaise. Here's the postillion can tell you so. I and my master came in that chaise. I and my master that was reading, as you say, and it was he that threw the money out to you. He is going to bed; he is tired and can't see you himself. He desires that you'll give me the guinea."

He pushed them towards the door; but the basket-woman whispered to them as they went out, "Wait in the street till I come to you."

"Pray, Mrs. Landlady," cried this gentleman's servant, addressing himself to the landlady, who just then came out of a room where some company were at supper, "Pray, Mrs. Landlady, please to let me have roasted larks for my supper. You are famous for larks at Dunstable; and I make it a rule to taste the best of everything wherever I go; and, waiter, let me have a bottle of claret. Do you hear?"

"Larks and claret for his supper," said the basket-woman to herself, as she looked at him from head to foot. The postillion was still waiting, as if to speak to him; and she observed them afterwards whispering and laughing together. "No bad hit," was a sentence which the servant pronounced several times.

Now it occurred to the basket-woman that this man had cheated the children out of the guinea to pay for the larks and claret; and she thought that perhaps she could discover the truth. She waited quietly in the passage.

"Waiter! Joe! Joe!" cried the landlady, "why don't you carry in the sweetmeat-puffs and the tarts here to the company in the best parlour?"

"Coming, ma'am," answered the waiter; and with a large dish of tarts and puffs, the waiter came from the bar; the landlady threw open the door of the best parlour, to let him in; and the basket-woman had now a full view of a large cheerful company, and amongst them several children, sitting round a supper-table.

"Ay," whispered the landlady, as the door closed after the waiter and the tarts, "there are customers enough, I warrant, for you in that room, if you had but the luck to be called in. Pray, what would you have the conscience, I wonder now, to charge me for these here half-dozen little mats to put under my dishes?"

"A trifle, ma'am," said the basket-woman. She let the landlady have the mats cheap, and the landlady then declared she would step in and see if the company in the best parlour had done supper. "When they come to their wine," added she, "I'll speak a good word for you, and get you called in afore the children are sent to bed."

The landlady, after the usual speech of, "I hope the supper and everything is to your liking, ladies and gentlemen," began with, "If any of the young gentlemen or ladies would have a cur'osity to see any of our famous Dunstable straw-work, there's a decent body without would, I daresay, be proud to show them her pincushion-boxes, and her baskets and slippers, and her other cur'osities."

The eyes of the children all turned towards their mother; their mother smiled, and immediately their father called in the basket-woman, and desired her to produce her curiosities. The children gathered round her large pannier as it opened, but they did not touch any of her things.

"Ah, papa!" cried a little rosy girl, "here are a pair of straw slippers that would just fit you, I think; but would not straw shoes wear out very soon? and would not they let in the wet?"

"Yes, my dear," said her father, "but these slippers are meant-"

"For powdering-slippers, miss," interrupted the basket-woman.

"To wear when people are powdering their hair," continued the gentleman, "that they may not spoil their other shoes."

"And will you buy them, papa?"

"No, I cannot indulge myself," said her father, "in buying them now. I must make amends," said he, laughing, "for my carelessness; and as I threw away a guinea to-day, I must endeavour to save sixpence at least?"

"Ah, the guinea that you threw by mistake into the little girl's hat as we were coming up Chalk Hill. Mamma, I wonder that the little girl did not take notice of its being a guinea, and that she did not run after the chaise to give it back again. I should think, if she had been an honest girl, she would have returned it."

"Miss!-ma'am!-sir!" said the basket-woman, "if it would not be impertinent, may I speak a word? A little boy and girl have just been here inquiring for a gentleman who gave them a guinea instead of a halfpenny by mistake; and not five minutes ago I saw the boy give the guinea to a gentleman's servant, who is there without, and who said his master desired it should be returned to him."

"There must be some mistake, or some trick in this," said the gentleman. "Are the children gone? I must see them-send after them."

"I'll go for them myself," said the good natured basket-woman; "I bid them wait in the street yonder, for my mind misgave me that the man who spoke so short to them was a cheat, with his larks and his claret."

Paul and Anne were speedily summoned, and brought back by their friend the basket-woman; and Anne, the moment she saw the gentleman, knew that he was the very person who smiled upon her, who admired her brother's scotcher, and who threw a handful of halfpence into the hat; but she could not be certain, she said, that she received the guinea from him; she only thought it most likely that she did.

"But I can be certain whether the guinea you returned be mine or no," said the gentleman. "I marked the guinea; it was a light one; the only guinea I had, which I put into my waistcoat pocket this morning." He rang the bell, and desired the waiter to let the gentleman who was in the room opposite to him know that he wished to see him.

"The gentleman in the white parlour, sir, do you mean?"

"I mean the master of the servant who received a guinea from this child."

"He is a Mr. Pembroke, sir," said the waiter.

Mr. Pembroke came; and as soon as he heard what had happened, he desired the waiter to show him to the room where his servant was at supper. The dishonest servant, who was supping upon larks and claret, knew nothing of what was going on; but his knife and fork dropped from his hand, and he overturned a bumper of claret as he started up from the table, in great surprise and terror, when his master came in with a face of indignation, and demanded "The guinea-the guinea, sir! that you got from this child; that guinea which you said I ordered you to ask for from this child."

The servant, confounded and half intoxicated, could only stammer out that he had more guineas than one about him, and that he really did not know which it was. He pulled his money out, and spread it upon the table with trembling hands. The marked guinea appeared. His master instantly turned him out of his service with strong expressions of contempt.

"And now, my little honest girl," said the gentleman who had admired her brother's scotcher, turning to Anne, "and now tell me who you are, and what you and your brother want or wish for most in the world."

In the same moment Anne and Paul exclaimed, "The thing we wish for the most in the world is a blanket for our grandmother."

"She is not our grandmother in reality, I believe, sir," said Paul; "but she is just as good to us, and taught me to read, and taught Anne to knit, and taught us both that we should be honest-so she has; and I wish she had a new blanket before next winter, to keep her from the cold and the rheumatism. She had the rheumatism sadly last winter, sir; and there is a blanket in this street that would be just the thing for her."

"She shall have it, then; and," continued the gentleman, "I will do something more for you. Do you like to be employed or to be idle best?"

"We like to have something to do always, if we could, sir," said Paul; "but we are forced to be idle sometimes, because grandmother has not always things for us to do that we can do well."

"Should you like to learn how to make such baskets as these?" said the gentleman, pointing to one of the Dunstable straw-baskets. "Oh, very much!" said Paul. "Very much!" said Anne.

"Then I should like to teach you how to make them," said the basket-woman; "for I'm sure of one thing, that you'd behave honestly to me."

The gentleman put a guinea into the good natured basket-woman's hand, and told her that he knew she could not afford to teach them her trade for nothing. "I shall come through Dunstable again in a few months," added he; "and I hope to see that you and your scholars are going on well. If I find that they are, I will do something more for you."

"But," said Anne, "we must tell all this to grandmother, and ask her about it; and I'm afraid-though I'm very happy-that it is getting very late, and that we should not stay here any longer."

"It is a fine moonlight night," said the basket-woman; "and is not far. I'll walk with you, and see you safe home myself."

The gentleman detained them a few minutes longer, till a messenger whom he had dispatched to purchase the much wished for blanket returned.

"Your grandmother will sleep well upon this good blanket, I hope," said the gentleman, as he gave it into Paul's opened arms. "It has been obtained for her by the honesty of her adopted children."

FOOTNOTES

[2] A hard-hearted man.

[5] "The proper species of rush," says White, in his 'Natural History of Selborne,' "seems to be the Juncus effusus, or common soft rush, which is to be found in moist pastures, by the sides of streams, and under hedges. These rushes are in best condition in the height of summer, but may be gathered so as to serve the purpose well quite on to autumn. The largest and longest are the best. Decayed labourers, women, and children make it their business to procure and prepare them. As soon as they are cut, they must be flung into water, and kept there; for otherwise they will dry and shrink, and the peel will not run. When these junci are thus far prepared, they must lie out on the grass to be bleached and take the dew for some nights, and afterwards be dried in the sun. Some address is required in dipping these rushes in the scalding fat or grease; but this knack is also to be attained by practice. A pound of common grease may be procured for fourpence, and about six pounds of grease will dip a pound of rushes and one pound of rushes may be bought for one shilling; so that a pound of rushes, medicated and ready for use, will cost three shillings."

[7] The author has seen a pair of shoes, such as here described, made in a few hours.

[12a] Goody is not a word used in Ireland. Collyogh is the Irish appellation of an old woman: but as Collyogh might sound strangely to English ears, we have translated it by the word Goody.

[12b] What are in Ireland called moats, are, in England, called Danish mounds, or barrows.

[12c] Near Kells, in Ireland, there is a round tower, which was in imminent danger of being pulled down by an old woman's rooting at its foundation, in hopes of finding treasure.

[77] This is a true anecdote.

[139] Salt, the cant name given by the Eton lads to the money collected at Montem.

[151] Young noblemen at Oxford wear yellow tufts at the tops of their caps. Hence their flatterers are said to be dead-shots at yellow-hammers.

[155] From beginning to end.

[167] This is the name of a country dance.

[181] It is necessary to observe that this experiment has never been actually tried upon raspberry-plants.

[194] Vide "Priestley's History of Vision," chapter on coloured shadows.

[222] Lobe.

[236] This atrocious practice is now happily superseded by the use of sweeping machines.

[256] This custom of "Barring Out" was very general (especially in the northern parts of England) during the 17th and 18th centuries, and it has been fully described by Brand and other antiquarian writers.

Dr. Johnson mentions that Addison, while under the tuition of Mr. Shaw, master of the Lichfield Grammar School, led, and successfully conducted, "a plan for barring out his master. A disorderly privilege," says the doctor, "which, in his time, prevailed in the principal seminaries of education."

In the Gentleman's Magazine of 1828, Dr. P. A. Nuttall, under the signature of H. A. N., has given a spirited sketch of a "Barring Out" at the Ormskirk Grammar School, which has since been republished at length (though without acknowledgment), by Sir Henry Ellis, in Bohn's recent edition of Brand's "Popular Antiquities." This operation took place early in the present century, and is interesting from its being, perhaps, the last attempt on record, and also from the circumstance of the writer himself having been one of the juvenile leaders in the daring adventure, "quo rum pars magna fuit."-Ed.

[262] Lucifer matches were then unknown.-Ed.

[301] Varieties of Literature, vol. i. p. 299.

[302] Chi compra ha bisogna di cent' occhi; chi vende n'ha assai di uno.

[303a] E meglio esser fortunato che savio.

[303b] Butta una sardella per pigliar un luccio.

[306] see anted.

[308] Il cane scottato dell' acqua calda ha paura poi della fredda.

[309] The Duke de Rochefoucault.-"On peut être puls fin qu'un autre, mais pas plus fin que tous les autres."

[311] Chartres.

[314] Poco e spesso empie il l'orsetto.

[317] Chi te fa piu carezza che non vuole,

O ingannato t'ha, o inganuar et vuole.

[318] This word comes from two Italian words, bunco rotto-broken bench. Bankers and merchants used formerly to count their money, and write their bills of exchange upon benches in the streets; and when a merchant or banker lost his credit, and was unable to pay his debts, his bench was broken.

[326] We must give those of our young English readers who may not be acquainted with the ancient city of Herculaneum, some idea of it. None can be ignorant that near Naples is the celebrated volcanic mountain of Vesuvius;-that, from time to time, there happen violent eruptions from this mountain; that is to say, flames and immense clouds of smoke issue from different openings, mouths, or craters, as they are called, but more especially from the summit of the mountain, which is distinguished by the name of the crater. A rumbling, and afterwards a roaring noise is heard within, and prodigious quantities of stones and minerals burnt into masses (scori?), are thrown out of the crater, sometimes to a great distance. The hot ashes from Mount Vesuvius have often been seen upon the roofs of the houses of Naples, from which it is six miles distant. Streams of lava run down the sides of the mountains during the time of an eruption, destroying everything in their way, and overwhelm the houses and vineyards which are in the neighbourhood.

About 1700 years ago, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Titus, there happened a terrible eruption of Mount Vesuvius; and a large city called Herculaneum, which was situated at about four miles' distance from the volcano, was overwhelmed by the streams of lava which poured into it, filled up the streets, and quickly covered over the tops of the houses, so that the whole was no more visible. It remained for many years buried. The lava which covered it became in time fit for vegetation, plants grew there, a new soil was formed, and a new town called Portici was built over this place where Herculaneum formerly stood. The little village of Resina is also situated near the spot. About fifty years ago, in a poor man's garden at Resina, a hole in a well about thirty feet below the surface of the earth was observed. Some persons had the curiosity to enter into this hole, and, after creeping underground for some time, they came to the foundations of houses. The peasants, inhabitants of the village, who had probably never heard of Herculaneum, were somewhat surprised at their discovery. [327] About the same time, in a pit in the town of Portici, a similar passage underground was discovered, and, by orders of the King of Naples, workmen were employed to dig away the earth, and clear the passage. They found, at length, the entrance into the town, which, during the reign of Titus, was buried under lava. It was about eighty-eight Neapolitan palms (a palm contains near nine inches) below the top of the pit. The workmen, as they cleared the passages, marked their way with chalk when they came to any turning, lest they should lose themselves. The streets branched out in many directions, and, lying across them, the workmen often found large pieces of timber, beams, and rafters; some broken in the fall, others entire. These beams and rafters are burned quite black like charcoal, except those that were found in moist places, which have more the colour of rotten wood, and which are like a soft paste, into which you might run your hand. The walls of the houses slant, some one way, some another, and some are upright. Several magnificent buildings of brick, faced with marble of different colours, are partly seen, where the workmen have cleared away the earth and lava with which they were encrusted. Columns of red and white marble, and flights of steps, are seen in different places; and out of the ruins of the palaces some very fine statues and pictures have been dug. Foreigners who visit Naples are very curious to see this subterraneous city, and are desirous to carry with them into their own country some proofs of their having examined this wonderful place.

[327] Philosophical Transactions, vol. ix. p. 440.

[332] Tutte le volpi si trovano in pellicera.

[333a] Assai ben balla a chi fortuna suona.

[333b] Odi, vedi, taci, se vuoi viver in pace.

[334] La vita il fine,-e di loda la sera.

"Compute the morn and evening of their day."-Pope.

[336] Vien presto consumato l'ingiustamente acquistato.

[337] I fatti sono maschii, le parole femmine.

[338a] Phil. Trans. vol. ix.

[338b] These facts are mentioned in Sir William Hamilton's account of an eruption of Mount Vesuvius.-See Phil. Trans. 1795, first part.

[342] La mala compagnia è quella che mena uomini a la forca.

[343] Pescar col hamo d'argento.

[365a] "Their whole study was how to please and to help one another."

[365b] This was about the close of the 18th century.

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