Stories Told to a Child (4)

Home Up Poems Story of Doom Monitions Old Days Poetical Works Allerton and Dreux Allerton and Dreux Off the Skelligs Fated to be Free Sarah De Berenger Don John John Jerome A Moto Changed Studies for Stories A Sister's Bye-Hours Mopsa the Fairy Wonder Box Tales Sheet Music Sheet Music Reviews, etc. Main Index Site Search


[Previous Page]

Deborah's Book.

WHEN I was a little child, I thought what a good thing it would be if I could set out on a pilgrimage.  I had been reading the Pilgrim's Progress, and had specially pondered over the account of the wicket gate.  The wonderful book which contains the description, and the picture of it, I had read up in a garret in the house of an old lady, to whom I was paying a visit; an old lady who never came down after breakfast till twelve o'clock, who dined at one, drank tea at five, and, after that, dosed and dreamed in her easy-chair.   She lived by the sea-side, and was of kin to my mother.   I had been sent alone to her.   She did not like children, as she told my parents, therefore she could not ask any of my numerous brothers or sisters to visit her at the same time; but I was a quiet little thing, "shod with velvet," and contented to sit still and dream over my book; besides, when I worked I could thread my own needle, and the last child that she had invited to stay with her was always teasing her to ring the bell for Deborah to come in and thread her needle.   This had made a deep impression on the old lady, and she would often say, "If I have rung the bell once for Deborah to come in and thread that child's needle, I have rung it fifty times, my dear;"  "Indeed!" my mother would reply; and add, with pretty maternal pride, "my little girls are all particularly clever with their needle."

    "So they are, my dear," our agèd relation would answer; and she once added, "As for this little thing, she mended my gloves the other day like a woman, and then came up to me so prettily, 'Are these stitches small enough, do you think, Mrs. Wells? there's rather a long one here, but I can pull it out if you like.'  'Yes, my dear,' said I, 'that will do.'  I couldn't see one of 'em without my spectacles!  You may send her to me, and welcome, Fanny, if you like.  I daresay the sea air will do her good—a poor little aguish thing."  So I was sent, or rather brought over by my father, together with my knitting and my netting, my little work-box, my story-books, and my Peep of Day.  I felt what a fine thing it was to go out on a visit, and what a matter of rejoicing it was that my cheeks were not round and rosy, like the cheeks of my brothers and sisters; besides, mamma had put a new blue veil on my bonnet, to shade me from the sun, and had given me a parasol—a thing that I had never possessed before, for I was only six years old.  Therefore, as I said, a natural elation resulting from conscious ill-health, and some new property, took entire possession of my little heart; and as I sat in the gig by papa's side, I drew myself up as much as I could, and hoped the passers-by, seeing me with my veil and my parasol, would think I was a grown-up lady.

    Mamma had given me five things to remember, and had counted them over to me on the fingers of my hand, after she had put my new gloves on.

    I was never to forget to say my prayers; I was to write to her twice a week; I was always to change my shoes when I came in from a walk; I was to keep my room very tidy; and (greatest charge of all, as I thought at the time) I was honestly to tell the housemaid, when I was sent up to bed, that mamma did not wish me to put out my own candle.  I was very anxious to persuade mamma that I could put it out myself, therefore she was the more urgent in impressing upon me that she would not allow it; and, in taking leave of her, and during the drive to the sea, I thought very much (when I was not thinking of my veil and my parasol) about that candle.

    We reached the house.  Mrs. Wells did not come out to meet us, but received us rather cordially, though she reminded my father that he had promised to be in time for dinner, and that he was full ten minutes late; he made some trifling excuse, we sat down to this early meal, and, very shortly after, my father took his leave.  Then, as I well remember, my relative rang the bell, and sent for Deborah.  Deborah, a rough, red-checked young woman, came in, and her mistress addressed her with, "Now, Deborah, I hope you haven't forgotten my orders about the garret."

    "No, ma'am," said Deborah, "and I've scrubbed it and dusted it, and laid out the half-crown you gave me for toys; and if miss makes all the noise she can there, you'll never hear her."

    "That's right, Deborah," replied my relative, languidly. "Go up with Miss Rosamond, and show her the room; there, go away, my dear, till tea-time."

    So I went upstairs demurely, not the less so because Deborah kept looking at me; and when we got into the garret I found it perfectly empty, literally empty of furniture, excepting that there was one ottoman footstool on the floor, which was heaped with paper parcels.

    "Well, now," said Deborah, addressing herself, "didn't I say, over and over again, that I would contrive a table for this child—what a head I have!" and so saying, she flounced out of the room, bringing back in a few minutes, the smooth lid of a very large deal box, and two light bedroom chairs.  Setting them some distance apart, she laid the flat lid on their seats, and it made a capital table, just the right height for me to sit before on the ottoman.  She quickly picked up the parcels, and laying them on my table, exclaimed, "There, missy, now see if that is not a good half-crown's worth.  Mistress said you were to play up here, and when I told her there was nothing to play with, she said I might go to the shop down town, and lay out half-a-crown.  See here!"

    I opened the parcels, and found in one, to my great joy, a dozen Dutch dolls, with lanky legs, and high plaited hair, fastened with the conventional golden comb that Dutch dolls always wear; in another I found a toy-box of pewter tea-things, and a similar box of lambs upon a movable stretcher: and in two more was a quantity of doll's furniture.  I was exceedingly content, the more so when Deborah, going out again, presently appeared with a band-box full of odds and ends, with which, she said, I might dress my dolls, and two books with pictures in them.  These last, she said, I might look at as often as I liked, but I must not tear them; they were hers.  So saying, she left me, and if ever I was happy in my life I was happy then.  All by myself, plenty of new toys, a table on purpose for me, and a little window which, when I stood upon my ottoman and looked out, showed me the long waste of salmon-coloured sand, and the bathing-machines left high and dry, and the green sea tumbling at a distance; and the happy little shrimpers with their nets, whose absolute duty it was to do what all children long to do as a pleasure—take off their shoes and stockings, and splash about in the warm salt water.  What delight to have all these things, and quiet to observe them in, and leisure to enjoy them!  The nursery at home had plenty of toys in it, but there were two babies there, who must not be awakened by any games of play while they slept, and when they were awake it always resounded with such laughing and jumping, such pushing and running, such crying, quarrelling, and making it up again (unhappily for this divided world a more easy thing in childhood than afterwards), that there was no time for enjoying play, and no quiet for reading even the prettiest story.  "Master John, be quiet, your shouting goes through my head; oh, deary me, Miss Mary, do sit down and keep quiet; Miss Alice, if you can't leave off that crying, I really must call your mamma," were the constant complaints heard in our nursery; but childhood, on the whole, is a happy time, though a cross nurse does now and then overshadow it with gloom.

    Well, there I was.  In due time I was called down to tea, and asked whether I liked my playroom.  I said I did, and that I was very happy.  My relation answered as if to be contented and happy was a merit—"Good child."  After that she gave me some shrimps, and, when tea was over, sent me out for a walk on the beach.  The servant who walked with me was as silent as her mistress.  I came home, went to bed, and got up again the next day, still feeling very happy; but the quietude of everything around me was working its due and natural effect in making me quieter still.  To meet it, and to harmonise with it, I did not talk aloud to my Dutch dolls, nor scold them in imitation of our nurse's accents; but I whispered to them, and moved about my playroom noiselessly.  "Are you happy, my dear?" asked my relation again, when I came down to dinner, and I answered again, "Yes, ma'am."  And so several days passed, and the servants, as well as the mistress, praised me, and called me the best and the quietest child that ever came into a house—no trouble at all, and as neat as a nun!  But I was beginning to be strangely in want of change.  I wished my sister Bella, or even my noisy brother Tom, could see my twelve dolls, all dressed in the grandest gowns possible, and could help me to dry the sea-weeds that I brought in from the sea-beach.  On the fourth day I bethought myself of the two books, and I well remember taking one of them to the little open window, laying it down on the sill, and opening it.  What a curious picture!  A man with a heavy burden on his back, standing before a high gate, and over the gate a scroll.  "Knock" was written upon the scroll, "and it shall be opened unto you."  The man seemed to be considering whether he would knock, and a number of angel faces were looking out from among the clouds to see whether he would.

    I looked at that picture a long time, then began one by one to examine the numerous woodcuts which adorned the book.  There were lions, and hobgoblins, and giants, and angels, and martyrs, and there was the river flowing before the golden gates; nothing that could awe the imagination, and take hold on the spirit of a child was wanting.

    Specially I remember dwelling, with childish reverence, on the picture of the river, and the pilgrim entering into its depths; and pondering over the strange and to me unintelligible meaning of the beautiful words,

    "Now there was a great calm at that time in the river, therefore Mr. Standfast, when he was about half-way in, he stood awhile, and talked to his companions that had waited upon him thither; and he said

    "'This river hath been a terror to many; yea, the thoughts of it also have often frightened me: now methinks I stand easy: my foot is fixed upon that upon which the feet of the priests that bare the ark of the covenant stood, while Israel went over this Jordan.

    "'The waters indeed are to the palate bitter, and to the stomach cold; yet the thoughts of what I am going to, and the conduct that awaits me on the other side, both lie as glowing coal at my heart. . . . I have formerly lived by hearsay and by faith, but now I go where I shall live by sight, and shall be with Him in whose company I delight myself.

    "'I have loved to hear my Lord spoken of, and wherever I have seen the print of His shoe in the earth, there have I coveted to set my foot too.'"

    Extraordinary words! their pathos and their sweetness reached into my heart even at that early day, though their meaning was shrouded in the veil that gathers round the path of childhood.  I hung over the picture, and hoped the man with the solemn face would get safely to that golden gate; but I was very much afraid for him, the river looked so deep.  I looked at the angel who stooped above him in the air with a crown in his hand.  No doubt he would soon put it on.  Then I read the last few pages, beginning with how the pilgrims reached the land of Beulah, "where the sun shineth night and day."  What a wonderful river!  I supposed it must be a long way off, perhaps not in England at all, and England was a large place; but I thought I should like to find it some day, and did not know that "some day" I inevitably should.

    That night, when Deborah was curling my hair, I said to her, "Deborah, does Mrs. Wells know you have got that book about the pilgrims?"

    "Can't say," replied Deborah, "maybe she does, maybe not."

    I replied, "Then hadn't you better tell her?"

    "Bless the child, why?" said Deborah.

    I am not sure that I explained why, or perfectly knew why, but I had an impression that nobody else had such a book, but only Deborah; and probably my remarks made her see this, for I distinctly remember her declaring that Mr. Pipe, the bookseller down town, had a great many copies of that very book, that she was sure of it, and that she herself had seen them.

    My next question I remember clearly, owing, perhaps, to her making me repeat it several times.  It was, "Have you ever seen the wicket-gate?"

    Deborah stood as if bewildered when I repeated the query.  At last, her face suddenly cleared, and she exclaimed, "Bless the child, I thought she meant the real thing, that I did!  Yes, my pretty; I've seen it, to be sure, and a very pretty picture it is—Christian just a-going to knock at the door, and ever so many angels looking on.  Hold your head still, Miss Rosamond—how the sea air does take your hair out of curl!"

    "Then," said I, "you have only seen the picture just the same as I have."

    I do not remember what followed, excepting that, as Deborah clearly had not seen the wicket-gate, I began to inquire whether anybody in the neighbourhood had seen it, and whether Mr. Pipe had seen it, or had ever been to look for it.

    Deborah to all and each of my questions replied, that she did not believe anybody had seen it, or had been to look for it; that if anybody knew anything about it, she should judge Mr. Pipe did, for she often saw him reading in his shop as she went by, and everybody said he was a very religious man.  Deborah, in answer to my urgent questions, was induced to say that she judged the wicket-gate must be a long way off; and when I inquired whether it was farther off than Dungeness, that is to say, more than ten miles off, she said, "Yes, it must be a deal farther, I think."  Moreover, she drew my curtains, and placed me in bed, and, kissing me, added that I was a little girl, and need not to trouble my head about any wicket-gate, nor nothing of the sort; that I should find out what it all meant when I was older, but she could not explain it to me now, as I was not able to understand it.

    Children do not lie awake to think of anything, however wonderful.  At least I never did, nor did I ever know a child who did, excepting in a book.  I fell asleep, and after that two or three mornings passed, during which I was absorbed in my book, and full of wonder as to whether I ought not to go on pilgrimage too.  In my exceeding simplicity of mind, I began to save pieces of bread from my meals, and sugar-plums, and cake that had been given me, to take with me on the journey; and, as being found quite trustworthy, I was now allowed every day to go out on the beach by myself, or to play in the little belt of wood behind my relative's house.  I spent hours in speculating as to whether the lions were not so far off that one could not hear them roar if those waves would leave off surging and splashing among the pebbles; and whether, if I did set out on pilgrimage, Evangelist would be likely to come and show me the way.

    One night, when Deborah was again curling my hair, I looked at the red glowing clouds piled up in the glorious west, and reflecting their splendour upon the sea, and I remember certain things that she and I said together.  I have no doubt that she had no intention of conveying a false impression to my mind, though she certainly did so; for I recollect asking her distinctly, whether she thought I might go on a pilgrimage.  Whereupon she answered, "Surely, surely, Miss Rosamond."

    I might, then!

    She also told me that the narrow road along which Christian went, and which led to the city of the golden gates, was the road that we all ought to walk in; and, without at all explaining the allegory, she proceeded to say that it led to heaven.

    I went to bed resolved to go on pilgrimage, and when, the next morning, I was told to put on my bonnet and tippet, to go out and play as usual, I took all the pieces of bread that I had saved, and my favourite Dutch doll with a red frock, that I thought I could not part with, and went out.

    I went through the garden, and into the little belt of wood.  Here I sat down, and began to ponder.  Assuredly, the wonderful story had said that there was but one way to get to heaven, and that was through the wicket-gate.  How should I, oh! how should I find this wicket-gate.  I think that, in my perplexity and fear lest it was my own fault that I could not find the gate, I began to cry; certainly I have a sort of recollection that my eyes were dazzled and dim, and that when they cleared, some small brown object, which stood at my feet, upon a dwarf foxglove, suddenly spread open a pair of lovely blue wings.  A butterfly!  Oh, the most beautiful little butterfly in the world.  All thoughts of pilgrimage fled away as it fluttered its wings and floated off to another flower, drawing me after it as surely as many a pretty thing of no higher worth has drawn older hearts from their thoughts of pilgrimage.  I ran after it, stopped again and saw it settle, close up, and show me once more those blue wings, mottled with silver, and shaded off into the softest fawn colour.  I was close to it, and took off my veil, my blue veil which I always wore, hoping to catch it, but it flew away again; and presently, as I looked, I saw two butterflies instead of one—my beauty had met with a companion—and they were fluttering together towards the great down which lay behind the wood.

    To this place I followed, and, running after them over a few yards of short grass, I came to a deep hollow, full of ferns, and edged with camomile, bird's-eye, and dwarf thistles.  There, basking in the sun, some hanging to the leaves with folded wings, some spreading them to the light and warmth, I counted blue butterflies by tens and by twenties, and in breathless ecstasy stood considering how I should appropriate some of them, and get them to live happily in my veil, with some flowers, and my splendid Dutch doll, in her red damask gown, for their lady and queen.

    About an hour was probably passed in catching a sufficient number for my purpose.  It was difficult to do this without hurting them, and as fast as I captured one with my veil others escaped; at last I had about a dozen, and collecting some of the prettiest red and white flowers, and setting my doll among them, I tied up the veil with its own strings, and not doubting that the butterflies must be proud and happy in such a splendid prison, I emerged from the hollow, and set my feet again upon the open down; but this winding hollow was a long one—I had followed it probably for half a mile—and when I came up again there was a green hill between me and the sea, and I did not exactly know where I was; so I turned in the other direction, and I well remember the sudden surprise, amazement I may say, with which I saw one of the commonest sights possible—namely, a narrow path, in which I was standing, and which, with many windings and meandering, led away over the open grass, and lost itself in the distance among confused outlines of the swelling hills.  Could this be the narrow way?

    I cannot say that I was satisfied by any means to think that it was, but my mind was filled with childish awe, and I went a little way along it till, casting my eyes not more than half a mile before me, I saw—oh wonderful! almost terrible sight! it was so convincing, and brought the dreamy wonder so near—I saw, toiling on before me, a man with a burden on his back; a man that now I should call a pedlar; but then it was, and could only be, a pilgrim.  So then, this was the narrow path; and in the plenitude of my infantine simplicity I wondered whether the people down town knew of it; and I went on, still carefully carrying my pretty blue flutterers, for perhaps a mile, when, to my utter confusion, the path branched into three—three distinct paths—and, what was more, the pilgrim whom I was following had descended into a hollow, and had disappeared.

    Which of these three paths, then, should I follow?  One of them seemed to lead back again towards the town; a second, I thought, was rather too wide and too straight; so I chose the third for my little feet, especially as I thought it was the one in which I had last seen the pedlar—I mean the pilgrim—I hope he may have been one.

    Not to make my story too long, I wandered about till grass began to be mingled with ferns, and ferns gave place to ling, then in full blossom; at last my path fairly ended, and before me rose a sandy beach, crowned with dwarf oaks, and sprinkled with foxgloves and furze.  I had quite lost my way, and my path had been swallowed up in verdure.  I was in great perplexity; and, after climbing to the top of the bank, I looked around and found myself at the brink of a great open place, part down, part heath, intersected with many paths, but no one more like than another to the path that led to the wicket-gate.  I looked back and saw several better tracks, but could not be sure which was the one I had come by; so large, and so smooth, and so uniform was the waste of grass which, owing to my having attained an elevated spot, was now lying spread before me.

    It may have been about noonday, and I had perhaps been out about three hours; so I was neither tired nor hungry as yet, and kept wandering about in search of the way.  At last I saw an elderly gentleman coming towards me on a little pony.  He certainly was not a pilgrim; and yet I rejoiced to see him.  Mamma had never told me not to look for the wicket-gate, therefore, however strange it may appear, I certainly had no consciousness of doing wrong.  I had been crying a little before he appeared, not knowing what to do, nor where to turn; and when he approached I was considering what I should say, when he saved me the trouble, and exclaimed, not without a look of surprise, "Where is your nurse, little girl?"

    "Nurse is at home with mamma," I replied.

    "And what are you doing here all by yourself?" he asked.

    I replied in all simplicity, "If you please, I am looking for the wicket-gate."

    "The wicket-gate!  Humph.  Well," shading his eyes and staring around, "I don't see one.  Is it a white gate?"

    "I don't know, sir."

    "You don't know!  You are a very little girl to be finding your way by yourself in such a place as this.  Do you know which side of the heath it is on?"

    "No, sir."

    "Well, well," rejoined my questioner, with great impatience, "do you know where it leads to?"

    "Oh yes, sir; it leads to heaven."  Here at least was one question that I could answer; but never shall I forget the face of blank amazement with which he heard me.  I was rather frightened at it, and began to explain, in a great hurry, that I had read in the Pilgrim's Progress about the wicket-gate, and that Deborah had said I might go on pilgrimage; and after this incoherent account I began to cry piteously, and begged the gentleman, if he could not show me the way to the gate, to tell me the way home, because my relative would be so angry, so very angry, if I was late for dinner.

    He had descended from his pony, and now asked abruptly, "How old are you, child?"

    "Six years and a half," I replied, sobbing.

    "Six years and a half," was his not very proper answer, "and looking out for heaven already!"  But being now really alarmed as to whether I should ever find either the gate or my home again, I cried and sobbed heartily, till he sat down on the bank, and taking me on his knee, began to wipe my eyes with his silk pocket handkerchief, and assure me that he would soon take me home again, for that he knew the way quite well; we were not more than two miles from the beach, and so I need not cry, for we should set off home as soon as I could leave off sobbing.

    Thereupon being at ease in my mind, and perfectly satisfied in the good company of the elderly gentleman, he and I "fell into easy discourse" together.  He seemed anxious to investigate this rather strange fancy, and he asked me what I had intended to eat on my pilgrimage.  I showed him the various pieces of stale bread and bun that I had saved, and he fell into explosions of loud laughter, which left his face crimson, and his eyes full of tears; but he must have been a very kind elderly gentleman, for he shortly after set me on his little pony, and as he led it homewards over the down, he not only assured me that we should be back in time for dinner, but he took a great deal of pains to impress on my mind that I was never to try to go on pilgrimage again while I was staying at the sea-side, nor afterwards without consulting my mamma.  I promised that I would not; and in a very short space of time, as it seemed to me, we came down to the beach, and found ourselves at my relative's gate.  Here, as I well remember, my dread of being late induced me to beg my new friend not to leave me till I had ascertained that dinner was not ready; so he left his pony at the gate, and came up to the door.  His ring at the bell was soon answered; he explained to the maid that I had lost my way on the downs, and he had brought me home.  I was comforted with the assurance that I was just in time for dinner, so I gratefully kissed my new friend and took leave of him.

    Thus ended my first attempt at pilgrimage, leaving nothing behind it but a veil full of blue butterflies.  I know it was a childish attempt, but I believe it was sincere; it had something of that faith about it which made the patriarch content long since to "go forth, not knowing whither he went;" but it was an ignorant faith, and one that would not give up all; it must needs carry a doll with it for comfort and admiration by the way, and it could not help gathering butterflies, things too lovely and too precious, as it seemed, to be passed by.  To the follies of our childhood, and for its faults and its shortcomings, He will be tender who knows the heart of a child; but if since childhood, setting forth on pilgrimage, we have striven to take with us the goods and the delights of this world; if we have turned back again, lest our friends should be displeased; if we have wavered because any laughed at us, let us pray not only that He "would forgive us our trespasses," but that He would "pardon the iniquity of our holy things."


The Suspicious Jackdaw.

THERE never was a more suspicious mortal in this world than old Madam Mortimer, unless it was Madam Mortimer's jackdaw.  To see him peep about, and turn his head on one side as if to listen, and go and stand on the edge of her desk with his bright eye fixed on her letters, and then flutter to her wardrobe, and peer behind her cabinets, as if he suspected that in cracks and crevices, under tables and behind screens, there must be other daws hidden, who would interfere with his particular interests, or listen to the remarks made to him when he and his mistress were alone, or find the bits of crust that he had stowed away for his own eating; to see all this, I say, was quite as good amusement as to see old Madam Mortimer occupying herself in the same way, indeed, quite in the same way, considering the different natures of women and jackdaws.

    Sometimes Madam Mortimer would steal up softly to her door, and turn the handle very softly in her hand; then she would open it just by a little crack and listen till she must have had the earache; but generally after this exercise, she would return to her seat, saying aloud, as she took up her knitting, "Well, I declare, I thought that was the butcher's boy talking to cook; an idle young fellow, that he is; brings all the gossip of the village here, I'm certain.  However, this once I'm wrong; it's only Gardener sitting outside the scullery, helping her to shell peas.  He had better be doing that than doing nothing—which is what most of his time is passed in, I suspect."

    Here the jackdaw would give a little croak, to express his approval of the sentiment; whenever his mistress finished a speech, he made a point of either croaking or coughing, just like a human being.  The footboy had taught him this accomplishment, and his mistress could never help laughing when she heard him cough.  No more could little Patience Grey, who was Madam Mortimer's maid.  She was very young, only fourteen, but then Madam Mortimer suspected that if she had an older maid she should have more trouble in keeping her in order; so she took Patience from school to wait on her, and Patience was very happy in the great old silent house, with its long oaken galleries; and as there really seemed to be nothing about her for either Madam Mortimer's or the jackdaw's suspicion to rest upon, she was very seldom scolded, though sometimes when she came into the parlour looking rather hot and breathing quickly, her mistress would alarm her by saying, "Patience, you've been skipping in the yard.  You need not deny it, for I know you have."

    Here Patience would answer, blushing—"I just skipped for a few minutes, ma'am, after I had done plaiting your frills."  "Ah, you'll never be a woman," Mrs. Mortimer would answer, "never! if you live to be a hundred."  And it did not enter into the head of little Patience that her mistress could see everything that was done in the yard, and how she sometimes ran and played with the house dog under the walnut-trees, the two old walnut-trees that grew there; and how she played at ball in the coach-house, when she had finished all her needlework, while the little dog, and the big dog, and the big dog's two puppies, sat watching at the open door, ready to rush in and seize the ball if she let it drop.  It never entered into her giddy head that her mistress could see all this, for her mistress sat in a large upper parlour, and though one of its windows overlooked the yard, the blind was always drawn down, and how could Patience suppose that her mistress could peep through a tiny hole in it, and that she did this continually, so that not a postman could politely offer an orange to the housemaid, nor she in return reward him with a mug of beer, without being seen by the keen eyes of Madam Mortimer.

    Patience on the whole, however, fared none the worse for being watched—quite the contrary; the more the jackdaw and his mistress watched her, the fonder they grew.  She was such a guileless little maid, that they liked to have her in the large old parlour with them, helping Madam Mortimer with her needlework, and letting the jackdaw peep into her work-box.  One day, when Patience was sent for to attend her mistress, she found her with the contents of an old cabinet spread open before her; there were corals with silver bells, there were old silver brooches, and there were many rings and necklaces, and old-fashioned ornaments that Patience thought extremely handsome; in particular, there was a carnelian necklace made of cut carnelian, which she considered to be particularly beautiful; so did the jackdaw, for when Madam Mortimer allowed Patience to wash this necklace in some warm water, he stood on the edge of the basin pecking at it playfully, as if he wanted to get it from her.  Patience would not let him have it, and when she had carefully dried it she laid it on some clean cotton wool, and said to the jackdaw, "You are not going to have it, Jack.  It's the most beautiful thing that mistress has got, so I reckon she'll never let you touch it."

    When Madam Mortimer heard this, she smiled covertly at the ignorance of Patience, and presently said to her, "Child, you may go down and ask for a piece of leather and some rouge powder, and I will show you how to clean this set of emeralds."

    So Patience ran down to the footboy, and got what she required, and very happy she was under her mistress's directions in polishing and cleaning the jewels—quite as happy as she could have felt if they had been her own; yet, when Madam Mortimer said to her, "Which do you think the handsomest now, Patience; the green stones, or the red ones?" she replied, "Oh, the red ones are the handsomest, ma'am, by a deal."

    Just at this moment visitors were announced, and Madam Mortimer retired to her own room previous to seeing them, takings Patience with her to attend on her, and see to the set of her lace shawl, and of a new cap that she donned for the occasion.  She turned the key of the parlour where all her jewellery lay about, and the jackdaw, as he hopped with her out of the room, coughed approvingly at the deed, in a manner as expressive as if he had said, "Who knows whether all the people about us are honest?"

    The old lady put the key into her basket, but, strange to say, she forgot her basket, and left that in her bedroom with Patience, while she went down to receive her visitors; and all that evening, suspicious as she generally was, she never once remembered that anyone could unlock the parlour-door by means of this basket; on the contrary, she was in very good spirits, and she and her elder visitor talked nearly all the evening about their servants, and about what a trouble servants were, while the younger ladies walked in the garden, gathered a few flowers, and partook of some strawberries.

    Now Madam Mortimer, suspicious though she was, had an exceedingly kind heart, and she very often allowed the housemaid to attend on her at night, that Patience might go to bed early, as befitted her age.  The visitors stayed late, but at nine the drawing-room bell was rung, and orders were sent out that Patience was to go to bed; so as it was the full of the midsummer moon, she stole upstairs without a candle, and when alone in her little garret it was quite light enough for her to examine various little treasures that she kept in her box.  She was busy so doing, when Jack flew in at the open window, and lighted on her feet as she knelt, then fluttered on to her shoulder, and peeped down at her treasures, and began to make a great croaking and chattering.  Patience thought he was more than usually inquisitive that night, and I am afraid he somewhat interfered with her attention while she was reading her chapter, for he would not let her pincushion alone, but would persist in pulling out the pins, and dropping them on to the floor, listening with his head on one side to the slight noise they made when they fell.  At last he flew out at the window.  And what did he do next?

    Why, he did not go to roost, as he would have done if he had not been for so many years accustomed to civilised society, but he flew once or twice round the house to see that other birds were asleep, and not likely to watch his movements, and then he peeped down the chimneys, where the swallows, now rearing their second broods, sat fast asleep on the nest; he next alighted on the roof, and walked cautiously to a certain crevice, where he kept a few dozens of nails, that he had picked with his beak out of the carpet, and a good many odds and ends of ribbon, bits of worsted, farthings, and broken morsels of crockery, that he valued highly; these he pulled out of the crevice, and then he poked his property with his beak, chattered to it in a very senseless way, walked over it, and finally deposited it again in the crevice, flew down to the side of the house, and entered the parlour where his mistress's jewellery lay.

    Here lay the necklace; it looked very pretty; the jackdaw alighted on the table, pecked it as thinking that it might be good to eat, then lifted it up and shook it.  At last he flew with it out of the window.

    It was still quite light out of doors, and as the necklace dangled from his beak, he admired it very much.  "But what did he want with it?" you will naturally ask.  Nobody knows, but this is ascertained—that, finding it heavy, he took it, not to the roof, but to the edge of a deep well in the garden, wherein he had deposited the cook's brass thimble, and several of her skewers; having reached this well, and lighted on the stone brink, he peered down into it, and saw his own image, and the red necklace in his beak; he also saw four or five little stars reflected there, and as it was his bedtime, he dozed a little on the edge of the well, while the evening air waved slightly the long leaves of the ferns that hung over it, and grew in the joints of the stone many feet down.

    At last, it is supposed that some such thought as this crossed his brain: "These berries are heavy, and not good to eat; I had better lay them on the water till to-morrow morning."

    So he let them drop, and down they fell to the bottom.  He had dropped a good many articles before this into the well; some, such as nuts, feathers, and bits of stick and straw, floated; others, like this necklace, had sunk.  It was all chance which happened, but he liked to hear the splash of the red necklace, and he stood awhile chattering to himself, with great serenity of mind, on the occasion of its disappearing; then, he went and pecked at the kitchen window demanding his supper.

    This is what the jackdaw did; and now what did the mistress do, when she walked to the parlour door the next morning, unlocked it, and found that the red necklace was gone?

    She was quite amazed—nobody but Patience could have taken it—little Patience, her good little maid, who had seemed so guileless, so conscientious, and so honest.  Oh, what a sad thing it was that there was nobody in the world that she could trust!  Patience must have taken the key, and after using it for this bad purpose, must have placed it again in the basket.

    But Madame Mortimer was so sorry to think of this, that she decided to let Patience have a little time to reflect upon her great fault, and confess it.  So she said nothing to her all the morning, and in the afternoon, peeping through her little hole in the blind, she saw Patience chasing the ducks into the pond, and laughing heartily to see them plunge.  "Hardened child," said her mistress, "how can she laugh?—I'll give her warning;" and thereupon she sat down in her easy-chair and began to cry.  Now, she felt, almost for the first time, what a sad thing it is to suspect a person whom one really loves.  She had not supposed how much she cared for this little village girl till she was obliged to suspect her.  She had not perceived how sad her constant habit of suspicion was, and how it had now obtained such a dominion over her, till everything done by a suspected person appeared to her mind in a distorted light.  Now, the childish simplicity of Patience seemed to her to be hardened guilt.  Now, when she saw her at play, she made up her mind that the little girl knew she was overlooked, and was playing about in order to make her mistress think she was at ease, and had nothing weighing on her spirits; and when she came into the parlour, if she was awkward, her mistress attributed it to guilty fears; and if she made any mistake about a message, it was because her thoughts were preoccupied with her ill-gotten trinket.

    This unhappy state of things went on for several days.  At last, one evening, Madam Mortimer happening to look out at her hole in the blind, saw Patience slowly walking across the yard, and cautiously looking down into her apron, which she had gathered up into her hands.  Madam Mortimer felt convinced that the poor child had got the necklace concealed there.  One of the housemaids came up, but Patience ran away, and would not let her see what she had got, and seemed so anxious to conceal it, that her mistress drew up the blind, opened the window, and said, in an awful voice, "Patience, come here!"  The little girl approached—there was a verandah outside the window, and some wooden steps led up to it.  "Come up to me," said her mistress.  The little girl said, "Yes, ma'am;" and still holding her apron, turned to enter the door.  "No," exclaimed her mistress, "come up these steps; I do not want to lose sight of you."  Patience obeyed.  Her mistress sat down, and the little maid stood opposite to her.

    "Patience," said her mistress, "I have lost my red necklace."  The little girl glanced under the table, as if she thought the necklace might have dropped there.

    "Do you know where it is, Patience?" was the next question, asked with great solemnity.  Patience tightened the folds of her apron, looked earnestly at her mistress, and said, "No, ma'am."

    "Poor child," replied Madam Mortimer, shaking her head, and Patience, not appearing to know what she meant, coloured exceedingly, and looked as if she was going to cry.  But at last, as her mistress sat in her chair, and did not say another word, she began to steal away till she was arrested by her mistress's voice.

    "Come back again, you poor misguided child—come back, and show me what you have got in your apron."  As Madam Mortimer spoke she started, for the evening was growing dusk, and when Patience turned, a light, a decided light, gleamed through her white apron.

    "Please, ma'am," she said, now holding it open, "it's some glow-worms that old Gardener gave me—three glow-worms, and some leaves that I got for them."

    "Bless me!" exclaimed Madam Mortimer, when she saw the shining insects slowly moving about on her little maid's apron, but she looked so much less angry than before, that Patience, by way of peace-offering, took up one of her treasures, and placed it, with some leaves, upon the open page of her mistress's great Bible, which lay on a little table by her side.

    "You may go now, Patience," said her mistress, quite calmly, and the little girl left the room, while her mistress sat so long lost in thought that it grew quite dusk.  "After all," she thought, "that poor child must have been the thief; nobody else could have stolen the necklace; but I will still give her time to confess and restore it."  As she said this she turned towards the Bible, and the glow-worm on the page was slowly moving along it; the darkness hid every other word, but she read by the light of her little maid's gift, as it went on, this verse: "We—do—all—fade—as—doth—a—leaf."

    "Too true," said the poor old lady, sighing; "I feel the coming on of old age very fast, and I could have wished to have somebody about me, however young, that I could trust.  Ah, we are frail creatures—we come up and die down like the summer grass; and we are as sinful as we are frail.  My poor little Patience, I will try her a little longer."  So saying, the mistress began to doze, and the jackdaw hopped down from the perch where he had been watching her, and when he saw that she was fast asleep, and that the yellow moon light was soft upon her aged features, he alighted on the page of the Bible which the shining glow-worm was then illuminating, and pounced upon him and ate him up.


    Little Patience carried her glow-worms upstairs, and amused herself with them a long time; for she had nothing to do but to enjoy herself when her daily task of needlework was done; and as her mistress never set her more to accomplish than she could finish before dusk, she often had a good game at play with a clear conscience.  That night, however, she was not in such good spirits as usual, because her mistress had been angry with her, and if it had not been for the glow-worms she would have felt very dull indeed.

    However, she hung them up in a gauze bag that she had made for them, and long after she was in bed she lay looking at them, but thought they grew brighter and brighter.  She fell fast asleep at last, and fast asleep she was when her mistress came into the room with a candle in her hand, and softly stole up to her bedside.

    Patience looked very happy and peaceful in her sleep, and the suspicious old lady could find nothing lying about to excite her doubts.  The child had left her box open, and Madam Mortimer, though she did not choose to touch or move anything in it, used her eyes very sharply and scrutinised its contents with astonishing deliberation.  At length Patience moved, and Madam Mortimer, shading her candle, stole away again, feeling that she had done something to be ashamed of.

    The next morning she sent for Patience, and said to her, "Patience, I told you that I had lost my red necklace, I must have you to help me to search for it, but first tell me whether you know where it is?"

    "I know where I think it is, ma'am," Patience answered quite simply.

    "Where?" asked her mistress; but she spoke and looked so severely that Patience hung her head and faltered, and at last said, "She didn't know, she only thought it might be;" and when pressed for an answer, she said, "She thought it might be in the empty side of the tea-caddy, for Jack often took things and put them into it."  While the little girl spoke she looked so bashful and confused, that her mistress was confirmed in her bad opinion of her, but she allowed her to help all the morning in searching for the lost necklace for, after all," she thought, "I may be mistaken."

    However, the necklace was not to be found; and though the jackdaw chattered and bustled about a great deal, and told over and over again, in the jackdaw's language, what he had done with it, nobody took the slightest notice of him; and the longer she searched, the more unhappy Madam Mortimer became.  "It is not the value of the necklace," she often said to herself; "but it is the being obliged to suspect this child, that I am so sorry for; for she was the only person in the wide world that I felt I could trust, excepting my own children."

    But if people trust only one person, and can make up their minds to be distrustful of everyone else, their suspicions are almost sure at last to reach the one remaining; and so Madam Mortimer had now found.

    She sent for the little maid's mother, and without finding fault with the child, said to her that she did not require her services any longer; and when the mother said, "I hope it is for no fault that you part with her, ma'am?" she replied evasively, "Patience has her faults like other people;" and with that answer the mother was obliged to be satisfied.

    When Patience was gone her mistress felt very unhappy.  She had felt a pleasure in her company, because she was such a child, and so guileless.  She had meant to keep her with her, and teach her so long as she lived, and trust her; but now all this was over, and she had nobody whom she chose to trust.  The jackdaw, too, appeared to feel dull; there was nobody to play with him and carry him on her shoulder.  He was dull, too, because he had lost that pretty necklace, for he often thought he should like to have it again to put among his treasures on the roof; therefore, he was fond of flying to the edge of the well, and gabbling there with great volubility; but I need not say that his chatter and his regret did not make the necklace float.

    After a time, however, he found something else to amuse him, for one of Madam Mortimer's sons and his little boy came to visit her, and the jackdaw delighted in teasing the little fellow, and pecking his heels, and stealing his bits of string, and hiding his pencils; while the boy, on the other hand, was constantly teasing the bird, stroking his feathers the wrong way, snatching away his crusts, and otherwise plaguing him.

    "I wish Patience was here to play with that child, and keep him from teasing my Jack," said the old lady, fretfully.  "I get so infirm that children are a trouble to me."

    "Who is Patience?" asked her son.

    So then Madam Mortimer told him the whole story; the boy and the jackdaw having previously gone out of the room together—the boy tantalising him, and the bird gabbling and pecking at his ankles.  When she had finished, her son said, "Mother, I believe this will end in your suspecting me next!  Why did you not ascertain whether the girl was innocent or guilty before you parted with her?"

    "I feel certain she is guilty," answered the mother, "and I never mean to trust any servant again."

    "But if you could be certain she was innocent?" asked the son.

    "Why, then, I would never suspect a servant again, I think," she replied.  "Certainly I should never suspect her—she seemed as open as the day—and you do not know, son, what a painful thing it is to have nobody about me that I can trust."

    "Excuse me, mother," replied the son, "you mean nobody that you do trust; for all your servants have been with you for years, and deserve to be trusted, as far as we can see."

    "Well, well," said the mother, "it makes me unhappy enough, I assure you, to be obliged to suspect everybody; and if I could have that child back I should be truly glad; but I cannot harbour a thief."

    At this point of the discourse the boy and the jackdaw were heard in the yard making such a noise, and quarrelling, that the son went down, at his mother's request, to see what was the matter.  "He is a thief," said the boy; "I saw him fly to the roof with a long bit of blue ribbon that belongs to cook."

    The jackdaw gabbled angrily in reply, and it is highly probable that he understood part of the accusation, for he ruffled his feathers, and hopped about in a very excited way; and as the boy kept pointing at him, jeering him, the bird at last flew at him angrily, and gave him a very severe peck with a loud croak, that might have been meant to express, "Take that."

    Having it on his hands to make up this quarrel, the little boy's father could not go on with the discourse he had begun with his mother at that time; but when he found another opportunity he said a great deal to her; and if it had not been that the jackdaw's suspicions being aroused, that troublesome bird would insist on listening to all he said, with his head on one side and his twinkling eye fixed on his face,—and if he would have been quiet, instead of incessantly changing his place, as if he thought he could hear better on the right arm of the chair than the left, it is possible that the gentleman's discourse might have had a great effect on the old lady's mind; as it was, he interrupted his mistress's attention so much, that it is doubtful whether she remembered what her son had been talking of.  And there was no sooner a pause in what the jackdaw probably regarded as a disagreeable subject, than he hopped to a private little cupboard that he kept under the turned-up edge of the carpet, and bringing out five or six mouldy bits of bread, laid them in a row on the rug before his mistress and her son, and walking about before them with an air of reflection, seemed as if he would have said, "I must attend to my business, whether people talk or not."

    "I never saw such a queer fellow in my life as that bird is!" exclaimed the son.

    "Why, Jack, you miser!" said his mistress; "one would think you were starved."

    The jackdaw gabbled something which was no doubt meant for impertinence, till hearing footsteps outside the door, he hastily snatched up some of his mouldy property and flew with it to the top of the cabinet; then he stood staring at the remainder, fluttering his wings, and making a great outcry, for he did not dare to fly down for it, because his little tormentor had just rushed into the room.

    "Papa, papa!" exclaimed the boy.

    "Hold your tongue, Jack," cried the grandmother; "one at a time is enough."

    "Come, I will take you on my knee," said his father, "and then the daw will fly down for his bread."

    The daw no sooner saw his little enemy in a place of safety, than he descended, snatched up his bread, and having secured it all, came again to give the boy a malicious little peck.

    "Now what do you want to say?" asked his father.

    "Papa," repeated the boy, "do currants ever grow under water?"

    "No," said his father.

    "But," replied the boy, "there is something growing in the well, just under water, that looks like currants; and, papa, will you get it for me, please, for I should like to have it if it is good to eat."

    "Pooh!" said his grandmother, "the boy is dreaming."

    But the boy made such a fuss about the bunch of currants, and was so positive as to their growing down in the well, that though it was now autumn, and the leaves were falling, and all the currants were either eaten up or stowed away in jam-pots long before, his father and grandmother allowed him to take them to the well; but first the latter put on her black silk bonnet and her cloak, and fetched her stick from its place, lamenting all the while that Patience was not there to do all her little errands for her.

    Now the weather all that summer and autumn had been remarkably dry, and the consequence was, that this old well, which had long been disused because it contained so little water, had now less than ever, but that little was clear; though when the old lady and her son looked over the edge they could not at first see down into it, because a few drops of rain had fallen, and had wetted the fern leaves which were still dripping a little and covering its surface with dimples.

    "There are no red currants here, nor plums either, my child," said the grandmother; and as she spoke she put down her golden-headed stick and shook the tuft of ferns that had been dripping, till she had shaken down all the water they contained.

    The surface was now covered with little eddies and dimples.  But when the water grew smooth again: "There they are!" exclaimed the boy; "there are the currants.  Look, grandmother, they lie just under the shadow of those long leaves."

    "I see something," replied his grandmother, shading her eyes; "but it is six times as long as a bunch of currants, and the berries are three times as large.  I shouldn't wonder, son, if that was my cornelian necklace."

    "I will see if we can ascertain," said her son; there are several ladders about the premises, and the well is not at all deep."  So off he went, leaving the old lady and her grandson to look at the necklace; but the jackdaw, having by this time missed his mistress from her accustomed haunts, and being suspicious lest she might be inspecting some of his hoards, had set a search on foot for her, and now flew up screaming and making a great outcry, as if he thought he was going to be robbed.  However, having lighted on the edge of the well, and observed that the necklace was there all safe, he felt more at his ease; and if his mistress could have understood the tongue of a daw, she would have now heard him relate how he threw it there; as it was, she only heard him gabble, and saw him now and then peck at the boy's pinafore.  When the jackdaw saw a ladder brought, however, his mind misgauge him that his mistress meant to get the necklace out again; and his thievish spirit sank very low.  However, being a politic bird, he was quite silent while the ladder was lowered, and while the gardener's boy descended to the bottom of the well and groped about with his hands, for there was not a foot of water.  "There is my necklace, sure enough," exclaimed the old lady as the boy lifted up the long row of shining beads; "bring it out, James."  "Please, ma'am, here's the great silver skewer that was lost a year ago," exclaimed the boy; "and, dear me, here's the nozzle of a candlestick."

    The old lady held up her hands; she had parted with a good cook in consequence of the loss of this skewer.  But the sight of the necklace dangling from the youth's hand as he prepared to mount the ladder was too much for the jackdaw—he suddenly flew down, gave the hand a tremendous peck with his hard bill, and while the boy cried out and dropped the necklace, the bird made a sudden dart at it, snatched it before it touched the water, and flew up with it into a tree.  There he rested a few minutes playing with the wet necklace, and shaking it in the sunlight; but not all his mistress's entreaties and coaxing could bring him down, and in a few minutes he flew off again and settled on the roof of the house.

    There, in less than ten minutes, he was found by his mistress and her son, with all his ill-gotten gains spread out before him; everything was taken from him, and when his mistress saw the articles whose loss had caused her to suspect almost everyone about her of theft, she was so vexed that she actually shed tears.  "Mother," said her son, "it appears to me that you have trusted the only creature about you that was utterly unworthy of trust!"

    The old lady was so much disheartened that she could not say a word; but such is the audacity of a jackdaw's nature, that not half-an-hour after this, when the footboy brought in the tea things, Jack walked in after him with a grave expression of countenance, and hopped on to the tea table as if nothing had happened.

    "Patience shall come back again," thought the old lady; "I'll send for her and her mother, and I'll never suspect her any more.  It is plain enough now that Jack must have thrown my property down there."

    So the mother of Patience was sent for, but, alas, what disappoint merits people are doomed to!  The mother expressed herself much obliged to Madame Mortimer, but said that her cousin in London, hearing that she was out of place, had sent for her to serve in her shop,  "And that I look on as a great rise in life for her," said the mother, with an air of satisfaction: "and I am going to send a box of clothes to her next week," she continued, "and I shall tell her, ma'am, that you have not forgotten her."

    Madam Mortimer was very much vexed; but the necklace was in her hand, and a sudden thought struck her that she would give it to Patience.  So she said, with a sigh, "Well, Mrs. Grey, when you send the box, you may put this in it."

    Her mother at first looked pleased, but she presently drew back, and said, "Thank you, kindly, ma'am, but that necklace is by far too fine for my Patience, and it might do her harm to have it, and I never encourage her to wish for fine clothes."

    "Good-evening, then," said Madam Mortimer; and as the woman went away, she walked softly to the hole in the blind, and watched her talking and laughing with the cook, rather, as it seemed, in a triumphant way, as if she was exulting in the good fortune of her child, and the evident discomfiture of her former mistress.  "It is entirely the fault of that thieving jackdaw," said the old lady, as she returned to her chair; and as she spoke she saw the suspicious bird, sitting, listening to her with his head on one side.  "It is enough to make anybody suspicious to lose things as I have lost them," she thought.  "However, I shall soon leave off the habit, as I find it a bad one.  I wonder whether that woman is gone yet; I'll just take a peep, and see what they are about, gossiping, down there.  Ah, there she is!  I wish I hadn't sent Patience away; but, perhaps, if I had been kinder to her than I was, she would have given me cause to suspect her before long."

    Madam Mortimer then settled herself in her chair and began to dose.  When she awoke, the necklace was gone again; and perhaps it is a proof that she really was somewhat improved, that though she said, "I suspect, Jack, you know, where that necklace is," she never took any steps in the matter, but left her glittering stones in the bird's greedy keeping; and after taking a little time for consideration, put a patch upon the hole in the blind, so that she could never look through it any more.  Whether she was cured of her suspicious turn of mind is more than I can tell, but it is certain that she henceforth looked on suspicions as undesirable, and seldom thought of little Patience without a sigh.


The Life of Mr. John Smith.

THIS great and good man, every event of whose life is well worth preserving, was born in the parish of Cripplegate Within, at half-past ten on Friday, the 1st of April, 1780.  He was the only child of his parents, who, perceiving from the first his uncommon sweetness of disposition, and acuteness of intellect, felt a natural pride in watching his progress through infancy.

    At seven months he cut his first tooth; at fourteen months he could run alone, and such was his precocity, that, at two years and a half, he could speak his mother tongue sufficiently well to be able to ask for what he wanted.

    He began to learn his letters as early as three years old, and soon mastered the whole alphabet, which he would repeat with beautiful precision upon the offer of an apple or a ginger-bread nut.

    His father was a brazier, and had a very good business.  Jack, as he was then called, was allowed the range of the shop, and possession of all the nails that he could find lying about; thus he soon learned to distinguish between tin tacks, ten-pennies, and brass heads, and having a small hammer of his own, used to amuse himself with knocking them by dozens into a door in the yard, which was soon so thickly studded with them, that you could not see the wood between.

    He also had a tin saucepan, which was given him on his seventh birthday by his indulgent father, and in this he often made toffee and hard-bake for his own eating, and thus, while still a mere babe, his mind was turned to philosophical and scientific pursuits; for by means of his nails and hammer he learned the difference between wood and metal, and also the degree of force required to drive the one into the other, whilst with the aid of his saucepan he taught himself many a lesson in the science of eating,—for that it is a science, Soyer has lately demonstrated to the philosophical world.

    At seven years old, he being already able to read almost any English book that was placed before him, his father and mother consulted together and resolved to send him to a school at Clapham.  There he made such progress as exceeded their most sanguine hopes, and from this school he wrote his first letter, which has been preserved, and runs as follows:

"DEAR FATHER, — I like school a great deal better than I did at first.  My jacket has got two great holes in it, so I am forced to wear my Sunday one.  We always have roast beef and Yorkshire puddin' for dinner on Sunday, and the boys are very glad of all the nails and screws and nuts I brought with me, and if I might have some more when mother sends my cake and the three pots of jam, and the glue, and the cobbler's wax, and the cabbage-nets, and thee pack-thread, and the fishing-hooks, and the knife, and the new fishing-rod that I asked for when she came to see me, we should all be very glad.

    "We have dug a hole in the playground nearly fifteen feet deep, we mean to dig till we get to water, and on half-holidays we fish in the water on the common, where there is an island.  The boys want to make a bridge to reach it, but we haven't got anything to make it of.  We have not got any fish yet, only newts out of that water, but we saw a good large one on Saturday, and Cooper says he is deturmined he'll have him.  Cooper can fish beautifully.

    "Dear father, the thieves have stolen all the apples out of the garden, which is a great pity.  I send my love to my mother.

    "I remain, dear father, your dutiful son,


    This interesting letter was read by his parents with tears of joy; indeed, from this time till their son was fifteen years old, he gave them neither trouble nor anxiety, excepting twice—namely, when he took the measles, and when he fought with another boy, and came home with a black eye.

    At fifteen he was apprenticed to his father, and during his apprenticeship his career was as brilliant as could have been desired.  Of course he liked to be well dressed, which his mother felt to be the natural consequence of his good looks.  He also liked now and then to spend an afternoon in the parks, looking about him, which his father was glad of; for with such powers of observation as he was endowed with it, was highly desirable that he should not be without opportunity for exercising them.

    At the age of eighteen he had done growing, and measured five feet eight in his shoes; hair brown, with a slight twist in it, scarcely amounting to a curl; complexion moderately fair, and eyes between grey and green.  When his apprenticeship was over he paid his addresses to the second daughter of a bookseller in Cheapside, and married her after a three years' courtship.  During the next eleven years, Mr. Smith was blessed with seven children—John, his eldest son; Mary, named after her grandmother; Fanny, Thomas, Elizabeth, James, and Sarah.

    A few days after the birth of this last, his father died, leaving him the braziery business, and four thousand pounds in the Funds.  Mr. Smith was a kind son.  His mother lived with him, and her old age was cheered by the sight of his honours, worth, and talents.  About this timer he took out a patent for a new kind of poker; and in the same year his fellow-citizens showed their sense of his deserts by making him an alderman of London.

    Happy in the esteem of all, and in the possession of a good business, he lived very quietly till he reached the age of fifty, when his mother died, and was respectably buried by her son in the parish church of Cripplegate.

    His eldest son being now able to take charge of the shop and business, Mr. Smith resolved to travel for a month or two.  He accordingly went to Ramsgate, where he enjoyed much intellectual pleasure in the prospect of the glorious ocean, and the fine vessels which continually appeared in the offing.

    He was a true patriot, and, as he wandered on the beach, in his buff slippers and straw hat, with an umbrella over his head to shield him from the sun, he might often have been heard to sing, with laudable pride, "Rule Britannia! Britannia rules the waves!"

    After sojourning for three weeks at Ramsgate he went northward; nor did he stop till he had reached that city so renowned for its beauty as often to be called the modern Athens—we mean Edinburgh.  Mr. Smith wrote home frequently from thence to his family, and made many valuable remarks on the dialect and manners of the inhabitants; but it would appear that he did not altogether approve of what he saw, for, in a letter to his son, after praising the goodness of the houses, and the excellence of the gas-fittings, and, indeed, of everything in the iron and brass departments, he observed that the poultry was tough and badly fed, and that the inhabitants had a most unwarrantably high opinion of their city, "which, I can tell you, is as dull, compared to London," he continued, "as the British Museum is, compared with the Pantheon in Oxford Street."  He also, in the same letter, made some new and valuable remarks on the lateness of the season in the North.  In proof of the difference between London and Edinburgh he told his son that strawberries were then in full perfection in the latter city, though it was past the middle of August.

    Some years after Mr. Smith's return he was elected churchwarden for the parish of Cripplegate, and performed the duties of that situation with great satisfaction to the inhabitants, heading the subscription for the starving Irish with a donation of £5.  In the same year he gave £10 to the Middlesex Hospital.

    It was not till he reached his sixty-eighth year that Mr. Smith returned from the premises and the sphere he had so long adorned.  He then gave up the business to his sons, and retired with his wife to a pleasant residence on Stamford Hill.

    He retained his superior faculties to the last; for, at the time when there was so much stir about the Nineveh Marbles, he went, though very infirm, to see them, and, with his usual sound sense, remarked that they did not answer his expectations: as there was so much marble in the country, and also Derbyshire spar, he wondered that Government had not new articles manufactured, instead of sending abroad for old things which were cracked already.

    At the age of seventy Mr. Smith died, universally respected, and was buried in the cemetery at Kensall Green.

    "And is this all?" cries the indignant reader.

    All?  I am amazed at your asking such a question.  I should have thought you had had enough of it!  Yes, it is all; and to tell you a secret, which, of course, I would not proclaim to the world, I should not be in the least surprised if your biography, up to the present date, is not one bit better worth writing.

    What have you done, I should like to know? and what are you, and what have you been, that is better worth recording than the sayings and doings recorded here?  You think yourself superior?  Well, you may be, certainly; and to reflect that you are, is a comfortable thing for yourself.  And notwithstanding that I say this, I have a true regard for you, and am far from forgetting that though the events of your life may never be striking, or worth recording, the tenor of your life may be useful and happy, and the record may be written on high.  In conclusion, however, I cannot forbear telling you that, whether you are destined to be great or little, the honour of writing your biography is not desired by your obedient servant, the biographer of Mr. John Smith.


The Moorish Gold.

A LONG while ago, says the legend, when the dominion of the Moors was beginning to decline in Spain, it was rumoured on a certain day, in Toledo, that the Christians were coming down in great force to besiege the city, and had vowed that they would desecrate the Mosque, and despoil it of its gold and jewels—that they would fight their way over the bridge of the Tagus, and bear away the choicest of its treasures from the great Alcazar of Toledo.

    But a few days before these tidings arrived, a marvellous stupor had come upon the Moorish masters of the city: some said it was the heat, but they had never cared for the heat before, since they came from a hotter region.  They walked about it is true, but it was slowly, and in the great shadows of their houses, and if any man crossed over the street, he held his hand to his forehead and sighed.  A few were so faint that they lay down to rest on the steps of the Alcazar; they thought the scent of the pomegranate flowers oppressed them, though none had complained of this scent before.  Others believed that it was a thin vapour which rose up in the heat from the glassy bosom of the Tagus, and spread out like steam above the highest roofs, making the sun look red and fiery.

    In spite of this, says the legend, they set about defending themselves; and the danger being imminent, they shipped great store of costly merchandise, with jewels, and gold, and coined money, on board their vessels, which lay in the Tagus, and sent them off, to the number of five, with orders to drop down the river, double the Cape St. Vincent, and sail up the Guadalquiver, that their precious lading might be given over into the keeping of the Moorish King of Seville.

    But alas! says the legend, of those five fair vessels, not one ever cast anchor before the walls of Seville, for a great wind took them, scattered and drove them northward as soon as they were clear of the Tagus, and it is supposed that four of the five foundered with their crews and their lading, for they never were heard of more.

    It was supposed so, says the legend, but the Moorish masters of Toledo had little time to fret themselves for their sunken treasure, since that same week the plague appeared, and while the Christians were harassing them without, they lay in the still heat and perished in the streets by hundreds and by thousands within.

    One vessel was left, and day after day in the wind and the storm she drove still farther northward, and that strange lethargy had crept on board with the sailors, though now there was neither any heat, nor scent of pomegranate flowers, to plead as a reason for it.  And now the white cliffs of a great island were visible, and they said to themselves that they should never behold the sunny country of Spain any more, but be cast ashore at the end of the earth, in the kingdom of William the Norman.

    Still the north wind raged, and the foaming billows broke—that was a long and fearful gale: some of the sailors died at the oar, but it was neither hunger nor toil that killed them; and when at last the wind dropped suddenly, and the vessel drifted on to a sandy shore, only three men sprang out from her.  There were but three survivors, for the plague had come on board with them and their treasure.

    These three men sprang ashore; they landed one coffer filled with gold, precious stones, and coined money.  It was as much as their failing strength could do.  The islanders fell back from them, for they had seen the dark faces of the dead Moors as they lay in the plague-stricken vessel.  They did not molest the sailors, but let them sit alone on the shore bemoaning their fate till night came on, and their vessel at high tide drifted out again to sea, while these three desolate men took up the coffer and went inland, up and up, among the Cumberland hills.

    It was as much as they could carry, but no man cared to help.  They wandered about among the mountains, and the last time they were seen, it was apparent that they had hidden their treasure in some cavern, or sunk it in the earth, or heaved a stone upon it, for the coffer was gone.  Soon after, the men disappeared also; but whether they perished among the rocks, or died of the plague, none could tell; but though many and many a cavern has been searched, and many a stone displaced, from that day to this, says the legend, no man has ever set eyes upon the glittering Moorish gold.

    So much for legend; now for more authentic narrative.

    An old gentleman sat in a boat on one of the loveliest of the English lakes, and looked up at the mountains with delight.

    "Glorious!" he exclaimed; "superb! it beats Switzerland out and out."

    Whether he was right is nothing to the purpose, but he said it.  He was stout, had a red face, blue spectacles, and a straw hat tied to his button-hole with black ribbon.

    Now, when he exclaimed, "It beats Switzerland out and out!" his footman sitting opposite to him, and thinking the observation called for an answer, replied, with respect, "Certainly, sir; no doubt."

    Thereupon his master looked at his fat white face, which expressed no manner of enthusiasm, but rather showed an absorbing interest in the provision basket which he held on his knee.

    "Pray, Richard," said the old gentleman, "do you take any pleasure in the beauties of Nature?"

    Richard pondered, and answered as before, respectfully, "Not in particular, sir."

    "It's for want of knowing more about them," said his master, good-humouredly; "to-morrow I am going up a mountain to see such a view as everybody must delight in—you shall go too."

    Richard touched his hat.

    The next morning the old gentleman, with two others, quite as enthusiastic, but by no means so fat; and with a guide, and two hampers containing patties, pigeon-pies, hard-boiled eggs, potted salmon, new bread and butter, and water-cresses, set off, his servant accompanying him, to see the beauties of Nature among the mountains.

    How many times the gentlemen exclaimed, "Glorious, hot day! fine view! lovely scenery!" it is impossible to say.  How many times the footman wished himself at home, cleaning his plate, waiting at table, or doing anything in the world but climbing a mountain, it is also impossible to say.  Happily for him, the path got so steep, and the day got so hot, that all at once the gentlemen bethought themselves of luncheon, and decided that the very spot where they then stood was the right one to take it in.

    So the guide, not by any means disinclined to rest, led them a little aside, and turning the angle of a steep rock, suddenly introduced them to a little quiet nook enclosed with high rocks.  It was about the size, Richard thought, of the back parlour at home, only it was open to the sky, and its walls were hung with foxgloves, broom, tufts of heath in blossom, and a few trailing eglantines, instead of pictures and looking-glasses.  How still the place was, and how blue the sky above!

    "Well, Richard," said his master, "what did you think of the view?"

    Richard replied as before, respectfully, "That he had been wondering at it all the way up; everything below looked so small, in particular the hay-stacks; the round ones, he observed, had reminded him of queen-cakes, and the square ones of penny sponge-cakes or quartern loaves, just exactly that shyape, and certainl no bigger."

    His master was disappointed to find that Richard's comparison was queer enough to make both the other gentlemen laugh—not, however, at the footman, but at his master, for expecting him to relish the scenery.

    They soon rose from their lunch.  It was a sin, they said, to waste the sweet weather in that nook; they should go higher; but Richard might stay behind, if he liked, and pack the baskets; if he had not had enough to eat either, his master said he was to help himself.

    "Thank you, sir, I'm sure," said Richard, gratefully.

    Accordingly, when they were gone, he did pack the baskets, regaling himself with many a tit-bit meanwhile.  This pleasing duty fulfilled, he stretched himself under the steep sandstone walls of his roofless room, basked in the hot sun, looked up into the glowing sky, whistled, and fanned himself with some twigs of broom, which were covered thick with flowers like yellow butterflies.

    A thicket of broom bushes grew against the side of the rock, and as he stretched out his hand to one of them to pull off another bough, the bush swung back to its place, and a bird flew out so close to him that she swept his forehead with her wings.

    He peeped into the bush.  Yes, it was, as he had thought, a nest—as pretty as moss and feathers could make it; and with four pink eggs in it, quite warm, and half-transparent; he parted the thick branches of the broom, and as he held them so, a sunbeam struck between them, and showed a little hole in the rock close to the ground; it looked, he thought, much as the arch of a bridge might look, if the river beneath was so high as to reach within a few inches of the key-stone. He pushed himself further into the broom, and with his hands idly swept down the soft sand, and let it slide down a little rise till it had buried to their heads some tall bluebells that grew there.  Then he noticed that the arch, as more of it became disclosed, was very regular for a natural opening, and as the sand slipped away, it revealed the top of what seemed a worm-eaten wooden door, which fitted it with tolerable accuracy.  Nearly a foot of this door was visible, when Richard, impatient to know what was behind it, took a stone, and striking the old wood with some force, drove in a small portion of it.  He withdrew his head that the light might shine into it; there was a deep cavity, and a narrow sunbeam entering, glittered and trembled upon something which lay on the sand in a heap within, and was red and fiery.

    His heart beat quick, his eyes became accustomed to the dim light within, he could see bags lying side by side; one of them had burst open, its contents were large coins—surely gold coins—the sunbeam was red upon their rims; yes, they were gold, they were unknown, they were unclaimed, they were his!

    He withdrew his eyes.  The broom boughs swung back again and concealed the opening; he sat down, propped his head upon his hands, and a whirling wondering sense of possession, together with a suffocating fear that he should never be able to grasp all his treasure unshared, strove within him, and threw him into such a fever of excitement, that for a while he could scarcely move or breathe.  At last he mastered these feelings, forced himself again into the thicket, and thought he should never be satisfied with staring in again and again at the glittering, gleaming gold.

    Incalculable riches, and all to be his own!

    Yes, all: he had heard of such people as Lords of the Manor, his master was one down in the south, but Richard did not mean to consider the law, they should all be his own.  He would secure them, buy a fine house, and eat, drink, and dress of the very best.  He exulted, as in that quiet nook alone he capered and laughed aloud; then he sat down and began to arrange his thoughts.

    Let us see, should he open his heart and share them with his brother?  Share them! nonsense; no.  What had his brother done for him?  Why, only this—when Richard was out of place this brother gave him two sovereigns out of his own wages, and afterwards he spared with difficulty five shillings more.  Now his brother never expected to see it again.  Well, Richard decided to exceed his expectations; he would return it, every farthing: possibly he might give him another sovereign besides.  Then there were his two sisters.  As to the elder, she certainly had been very good to him; she had many children, and worked hard, yet when Richard was taken ill she had nursed him, and sheltered him, and sat up with him at night; she had been a true and tried friend to him.  Well, he would reward her; he would send her all his clothes; for of course he should in future dress like a gentleman.  He would also send her five pounds.  No; what would be the use of that?  Her drunken husband would only squander it all away; perhaps, instead of that, he would adopt one of her boys—that would be so good, so generous, it would surely be full payment.  Or perhaps it would be better to pay his schooling, and let him live at home; if he were brought into a fine house he might grow presumptuous; yes, it would be better to pay for his schooling, and now and then to send him some cast-off clothes.  Then there was his other sister.  Why, she had never done anything particular for him, so there was no reason why he should for her.

    And his parents!  It certainly would be his duty to allow them something, and he should do it.  His father, as he heard from home, was getting very feeble, and could hardly earn five shillings a week by the chance work he did for the farmers, for he was past regular day-labour.  His mother had been used to go out washing, but lately she had often been laid up with the rheumatism.  A regular allowance should it be?  Why, look what a sum horses and carriages cost; perhaps a present each quarter would be better; tea for his mother, and tobacco for his father.  Yes, that would be better; his mother could make a little go a long way, and he would send a blanket also.  No pledging himself to allowances; he might find that money would not go so far as he expected.  Why, Squire Thorndyke was always deep in debt, and he had four thousand a year.  Sir Thomas Ludlow was known to be in difficulties, poor gentleman!  He said free trade had made his means so small.  Ah! free trade was a very hard thing; he should find it hard himself, when he had land, as of course he meant to have.  He would send his parents something sometimes—not regularly—lest it should be supposed that he bound himself to continue it, which he might not be able to do.  For of course he should have shares like other people in these railways—he might lose a great deal of money by them, as his master had done; he might by such means become quite poor again; and then how cruel it would seem to the old people to stop their money!  He would send them something or other as soon as he knew himself what he was worth.  Well, he was happy to say he had a generous mind, and did his duty to everybody that belonged to him.

    Thus he sat and reflected till he had decided all this and more; he then peered through once more at his treasures, and having feasted his eyes sufficiently, contrived by means of a long stick to pull up two of the gold pieces.  They were as large as silver crowns.  He handled them, and turned them over.  The whole, now he had part in his power, seemed doubly his own, but he knew that gold was heavy; he could count upwards of twenty of these bags; each, for aught he knew, might contain hundreds of gold pieces; and besides that, jewels glittered here and there, which he shrewdly suspected to be diamonds.

    He heard voices at a distance, and hastened to emerge from his thicket of broom, first carefully putting the coins and a jewel in his waistcoat pocket.  Covetousness grew stronger in his soul, and his breath came quick, and all his pulses throbbed with anxiety, lest he should not be able to secure and conceal the whole of the treasure for himself.  The tourists returned, and Richard, as he followed them down the mountain, was so absorbed, that he was constantly treading on their heels.  Afterwards, when he waited at table, his master thought the air must have intoxicated him, for he handed him powdered sugar to eat with his fish, salad with his gooseberry tart, and set a pat of butter on table, with the desert.  Right glad was Richard when the work of the day was over, and he could retire to think upon his good fortune, and examine his spoils.  They had been a very cumbersome possession to him, and had inspired him with an almost irresistible desire to be always feeling in his pocket to ascertain if they were safe, and a constant fear lest they should chink together and be heard.

    Now, he thought, what must he do?  Should he leave his master's service at once, buy some boxes, and, going up the mountain every day by himself, bring down by degrees the contents of that little cavern till all was secured?  No, that would be a suspicious mode of proceeding; people would think the footman was mad, or, if he paid for what he wanted with ancient gold coins, they would suspect, watch, discover, and either betray him or insist upon sharing the spoils.  He never doubted that there was a Lord of the Manor in those parts, and if so he must be very secret, as of course these riches belonged of right to him.

    No, it would not do to leave his master at once; far better to go south with him as far as the busy city of B, where he was going to stay with a very learnèd old gentleman, a friend of his, who had a large collection of curiosities and dusty stones, shells, stuffed animals, and other such gear.  He should have a great deal of leisure there, and Bwould be a likely place to dispose of his coins in, for his master would be busy with his friend tapping stones in the country with tiny hammers, magnifying sand, and bottling tadpoles in proof spirits.

    Not to trouble my reader with accounts of how Richard visited his treasures again by night, and in coming down was very nearly discovered; how he went again, and was very nearly falling over a precipice; how he forgot his duties, was disrespectful, and recklessly whistled as he followed his master; how he entertained the project of shortly changing his name, and conned "The Peerage and Baronetage of England" to find a grand and uncommon one; how conveniently he thought this plan would hide him from all those who had a claim upon him; how he had compunctions on this head, and overcame them with the thought of how much his poor relations would expect of him if they knew about his riches; how the landlady declared him to be the "braggingest" young man she had ever met with; how he carelessly neglected his master's luggage at B――, by reason whereof it went down the line to London, and thence to Dover; and how he spent the first two days of the visit in staring out of the hall window—I pass on to say that never was there an old gentleman so fond of old wood carving, old stained glass, old china, old marbles, old mail, old books, old prints, old pictures, and old coins, as this very old gentleman, this friend of Richard's master.

    On the third day Richard slipped out, and going into a back street soon found a shop that he thought suited to his purpose.  Here, after a little beating about the bush, he produced his coins and his diamond, and after a little hesitation on the part of the shopman, received eighteen guineas for the stone and one coin—far less than they were worth but the man would not give more.

    On returning, he was told that his master had been ringing for him; he ran upstairs in some trepidation, and found the two old gentlemen examining a large cabinet full of coins.  "Richard," said his master, "I want you to hold this tray."  Richard did so, and looked down on its contents.  "Those," said the host to his friend, "are early English."  He lifted up another light tray, and Richard held it on the top of the first.  "Now then, old fellow," he exclaimed, "this is something to be proud of indeed; Spanish coins—date of the Moors—all rare —this one, unique; I gave forty pounds for it."

    "Not a penny too much," said Richard's master; "and these two coins set apart, are they Spanish too?"

    "Moorish, and all but unique; they've been in my family for generations."

    Richard looked down, and his heart beat so loud that he wondered they did not hear it; then he drew a long breath, and gazed intently, as well he might, for, reposing on cotton wool side by side, were the very counterparts—the exact facsimiles—of the great gold pieces he got out of the cavern.

    "What's the matter, Richard?" said his master; for Richard's hands shook, and he stared as if fascinated.

    "Nothing's the matter, sir," replied Richard, with a face of terror.

    "I'll tell you what," said the friend, when Richard had been dismissed, "there's something queer about the lad; what does he mean by turning red and pale, and breathing as hard as if my coins had knocked the breath out of his body?"

    His master also thought it queer when that same evening Richard gave him warning, and added that he wished to leave that night, for his brother's wife had written to say that her husband was dangerously ill, and wished to see him.

    His master was vexed; but being an easy man, he paid Richard his wages, and let him go, with many kind wishes for his brother's recovery.

    "And now," said Richard, "I'll be a gentleman.  I've left my old clothes, and when I'm missed my family can claim them.  Honest industry is the best thing after all.  Let them do for themselves; they ought to be above troubling me: my name shall be Mr. Davenport St. Gilbert; I shall keep myself to myself, for I want nothing of them, and that alone will be a good thing for them, and more than they ever had reason to expect."

    He then went to a number of shops, and soon supplied himself with everything that he thought necessary to constitute him a gentleman—a handsome suit of clothes, studs, a new hat, a cane, and lastly a pair of gloves, which he had been very near forgetting; then he went to an hotel, ordered supper and a bed, and by seven o'clock the next morning was on his way to the Cumberland mountains.  The image of that mountain was always present to his imagination, and the thought of the treasure lying there, with nothing but a little bird to watch it, filled him with a secret, sordid joy; it should be all his own—no other living man should touch one penny of it: poor Richard!

    He went to an inn, ordered a good dinner and a bottle of wine.  Alas! he was not used to port wine, and he thought as he paid for all, he would drink all.  He did so, and the next day a racking headache made him glad to lie in bed till noon.  He stayed at that place another night, and, unhappily for him, repeated the folly of the previous one.  It was not till the fourth day from his leaving B that he reached the end of his journey, and stepping out of a post-chaise found himself at the foot of the well-remembered Cumberland mountains.

    He sauntered to the shore of the lake, and began to hurrah! with irrepressible exultation.  He thought himself alone, but a dry cough behind him, and a finger laid on his shoulder, undeceived him.  He turned round hastily, and beheld two policemen.

    "What's your business, fellows?" he exclaimed, half angry, half afraid.

    "You're our business," was the reply.  "There's been a theft; you must come back with us to B―."

    "It's a lie, a base lie; it's a cruel lie," cried Richard, frantically; "there was no theft in the matter, the coin was my own."

    "Indeed!  Well, young man, you needn't criminate yourself; how do you know we came after you about a coin?—it's no use stamping, nor crying either, you must come."

    The mountains and the lake swam before Richard's eye, as the two policemen took him between them, and walked him off to the railway station; he was frightened, but bewildered, and throughout the long journey he preserved a dogged silence, till at last the train arrived at B, and there stood his master and the old gentleman waiting for him.

    "This is the young fellow, sir, isn't it?" inquired the policemen confidently.

    "Yes," said his master, in a tone of deep regret; "I grieve to say it is."

    The next morning he was examined before a magistrate, but alas! during the night he had reflected that no one could prove his having stolen the coins (for on their account he never doubted that he had been arrested); he had also reflected that to tell the honest truth about them was most certainly to lose all; moreover, he had made up his mind that nothing worse than a month's imprisonment was at all likely to befall him, even if a case could be made out against him.  He therefore resolved to run all risks, and declare that he had found the coins and the jewel in his father's potato garden; he had turned them up with a hoe.  How the time passed with Richard until his trial, I do not know, but his kind old master visited him frequently, and told him it would be his duty to give evidence against him.

    Richard, however, persisted in his tale, though he became quieter and more fearful as the assizes drew near.

    At length the eventful day of trial came on, his turn came; he felt guilty, though not of the crime imputed to him; and his anxiety increased as he listened to the evidence brought against him.  The counsel for the prosecution stated the case against him thus :

    The prisoner, on the 22nd of August, arrived with his master at the house of the prosecutor; he had often been there before, and was known to have acquaintances there.  On the 24th he was present while certain valuable coins were displayed by the prosecutor; he was observed to regard them with particular attention; that same evening he gave warning to his master, giving as a reason that his brother's wife had written to him, declaring that her husband was at death's door.  He requested to be paid his wages at once, alleging that he had but five shillings in his pocket.  He took his leave; and in the evening of the following day, his brother, whose employer was travelling that way, called in to see him, in perfect health; and on being told of the letter supposed to have been received from his wife, replied that his wife being a Frenchwoman, lady's-maid in the family where he lived, could neither read nor write English, and that Richard knew that quite well.

    The day after this, the prosecutor happened to observe a certain scratched appearance about the keyholes of two of his cabinets; he opened them hastily, and found every tray gone with all their contents; in short, the whole case gutted.  Inquiries were instantly set on foot, and plate to a considerable amount was also found to be missing; thereupon the servants being examined, Richard's name was mentioned by all with suspicion.  The cook deposed that during dinner, the day he left, Richard had inquired concerning the word "unique."  "Unique," said the servants, "means that no one has got such a coin except master;" to which he replied, "If that's unique, they are no more unique than I am, and that I could prove to the present company if I chose."  The servants further deposed, that looking upon this as an idle boast, they had laughed at him, and dared him to produce one, and at last he had said that perhaps he might before he took his leave of them.

    This evidence being important, the police had been set to work, and had discovered a facsimile of the coin, of which only two specimens were supposed to be extant, exposed for sale in a shop window; they had also discovered that he had entered several shops, and spent money to an amount greatly exceeding his wages.  The recovered coin being shown to the prosecutor, he challenged it, and produced a written description, wherein it was set forth that these ancient Spanish coins were supposed to be fresh from the Mint, and never to have passed into circulation.

    The prisoner, on being arrested, had instantly mentioned these coins, and declared he came by them honestly.  When examined before a magistrate, he declared that he had dug them up in his father's potato garden.  Search being made, another coin was found in his waistcoat-pocket.  On being told that the sharp outline of the coins proved that they had not been exposed to friction or damp, he added that he found them sealed up in an earthen pot.

    On being asked how long it was since he had found them, he replied that it was while he lived in his late master's service.  On being reminded by that gentleman that he had only visited his parents twice during that period, and that the first time they were paupers in the Union, and had no potato garden, he replied that it was the second time; on being further reminded that during his second visit the ground was covered with a deep fall of snow, he refused to give any answer.

    And now witnesses were called, and then followed the feeble defence of his own counsel.  Richard was bewildered, but he perceived that the circumstantial evidence was so strong against him that nothing but the truth could save him, and the truth no man knew.  He was brought in guilty, and sentenced to seven years' transportation.

    Alas! what a casting down of his dream of riches!  What a bitter disappointment for his covetous soul!  He was sent back to prison, and there, when he had duly reflected on his position, he determined to purchase freedom by discovering the whole truth, and thus giving up his monopoly of the Moorish gold.

    He sent for his master; he looked miserable, and as he sat on the bench in his prison-dress, with his face propped on his hands, he felt plainly that his master pitied him.

    The old gentleman heard him to the end and made no comment, but he remained so long silent when the tale was finished, that Richard looked up surprised.  "Sir!" he exclaimed, "surely you believe me now?"

    "Alas, my poor fellow!" said his master, "you have told so many falsehoods, that it is no longer in my power to believe on the testimony of your lips, but only of my own senses; and this last story, Richard, seem to me the wildest of all.  It will not serve you nor delay your sentence one hour."

    "Yes, it will—indeed it will—Oh, sir, sir, try me this once, and go and look behind those broom bushes."

    "Richard, you have a good father and mother, and good sisters, who are very, very poor,—if you had really found such a treasure, you would have contrived to send something to them."

    "I—I forgot them, sir," faltered Richard.

    "No, Richard," said his master, with a sigh, "you are a bad fellow, I'm afraid; but you're not so bad as that comes to.  You have deceived me so often, that I'm not to be taken in any more."

    Richard protested, but his master would not believe his tale, and was about to take leave of him, when a bustle was heard outside the door, and his master's old friend appeared in a state of great excitement.  He opened both hands, and in the palm of each was seen a coin, the very coins that had been missing.  The real thieves had been detected, and, with very little delay, Richard was set at liberty.

    "And now, sir," said he, "come with me to the mountain, and see whether I spoke the truth."  His master wondered greatly, but he went.  They were within ten miles of the mountain, when a tremendous storm came on; the floods of rain and peals of thunder drove them into an inn for shelter, and there they stayed during a long night of storm and tempest.

    It was not till high noon that that terrible storm subsided; then as soon as it was safe to go abroad, Richard and his master set off on their mission. They went toiling up the same path that they had pursued before; the way was very rugged, for stones and earth had been dislodged by the storm.

    "Richard," said his master, "we are nearly at the top of the mountain, surely we must have passed the place."

    They came down again, and the agitated Richard looked from right to left; all was so changed, so torn and disfigured, that he could not tell where he was.  The tiny streams were tumbling torrents; the road was blocked with stones and rocks.

    "Richard," his master said again, "we are nearly at the foot of the mountain, surely we have passed the place."

    His master went down to the inn.  Richard continued to search: for three weary days he wandered up and down and about.  Whether the force of the storm had driven rocks down, and filled up that little roofless room, or whether a torrent had defaced the place and concealed it, he could not tell, but certain it is he never found it; and from that day to this, no man's eyes have ever been gladdened with the sight of the Moorish gold.

    He came to his master—"Sir," said he, "the gold is not to be found, but I have had a great deal of time to consider, and I have come to think that my own greed has brought all this misery on me.  Here's the two coins that I got of the treasure; let them go to my relations, for I'll have none of them, but try to win back my good character, for the loss of that has been worse than the loss of this gold."


Printed by Cowan & Co., Limited, Perth.


[Home] [Up] [Poems] [Story of Doom] [Monitions] [Old Days] [Poetical Works] [Allerton and Dreux] [Allerton and Dreux] [Off the Skelligs] [Fated to be Free] [Sarah De Berenger] [Don John] [John Jerome] [A Moto Changed] [Studies for Stories] [A Sister's Bye-Hours] [Mopsa the Fairy] [Wonder Box Tales] [Sheet Music] [Sheet Music] [Reviews, etc.] [Main Index] [Site Search]


Correspondence should be sent to