STORIES FOR THE YOUNG;
CHEAP REPOSITORY TRACTS:
ENTERTAINING, MORAL, AND RELIGIOUS.
BY HANNAH MORE AND OTHERS.
A NEW REVISED EDITION.
PUBLISHED BY THE AMERICAN TRACT SOCIETY,
150 NASSAU-STREET, NEW YORK.
Black Giles the Poacher; containing some account of a family who had rather live by their wits than their work.
History of Widow Brown's Apple-tree; being Part II. of Black Giles the Poacher.
Tawney Rachel; or, the Fortune-teller: with some account of Dreams, Omens, and Conjurers. Being Part III. of Black Giles the Poacher.
The Happy Waterman.
Parley the Porter. An Allegory. Showing how robbers without can never get into a house unless there are traitors within.
A New Christmas Tract; or, the Right Way of Rejoicing at Christmas. Showing the reasons we have for joy at the event of our Saviour's birth.
A New Christmas Hymn.
Bear ye one another's Burdens; or, the Valley of Tears. A Vision.
The Strait Gate and the Broad Way; being the Second Part of the Valley of Tears.
The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard.
BLACK GILES THE POACHER:
CONTAINING SOME ACCOUNT OF A FAMILY WHO HAD RATHER LIVE BY THEIR WITS THAN THEIR WORK[A]
BY HANNAH MORE.
[Footnote A: This story exhibits an accurate picture of that part of the country where the author then resided; and where, by her benevolent zeal, a great reformation was effected among the poor inhabitants of at least twenty parishes, within a circle of thirty miles.]
Poaching Giles lives on the borders of one of those great moors in Somersetshire. Giles, to be sure, has been a sad fellow in his time; and it is none of his fault if his whole family do not end their career either at the gallows, or at Botany Bay. He lives at that mud cottage, with the broken windows stuffed with dirty rags, just beyond the gate which divides the upper from the lower moor. You may know the house at a good distance by the ragged tiles on the roof, and the loose stones which are ready to drop out from the chimney; though a short ladder, a hod of mortar, and half an hour's leisure time would have prevented all this, and made the little dwelling tight enough. But as Giles had never learned any thing that was good, so he did not know the value of such useful sayings as, that "a tile in time saves nine."
Besides this, Giles fell into that common mistake, that a beggarly looking cottage, and filthy, ragged children, raised most compassion, and of course drew most charity. But as cunning as he was in other things, he was out in his reckoning here; for it is neatness, housewifery, and a decent appearance, which draws the kindness of the rich and charitable, while they turn away disgusted with filth and laziness: not out of pride, but because they see that it is next to impossible to mend the condition of those who degrade themselves by dirt and sloth; and few people care to help those who will not help themselves.
The common on which Giles' hovel stands is quite a deep marsh in a wet winter, but in summer it looks green and pretty enough. To be sure, it would be rather convenient, when one passes that way in a carriage, if one of the children would run out and open the gate; but instead of any one of them running out as soon as they hear the wheels, which would be quite time enough, what does Giles do but set all his ragged brats, with dirty faces, matted locks, and naked feet and legs, to lie all day upon a sand-bank hard by the gate, waiting for the slender chance of what may be picked up from travellers. At the sound of a carriage, a whole covey of these little scarecrows start up, rush to the gate, and all at once thrust out their hats and aprons; and for fear this, together with the noise of their clamorous begging, should not sufficiently frighten the horses, they are very apt to let the gate slap full against you, before you are half way through, in their eager scuffle to snatch from each other the halfpence which you may have thrown out to them. I know two ladies who were one day very near being killed by these abominable tricks.
Thus five or six little idle creatures, who might be earning a trifle by knitting at home, who might be useful to the public by working in the field, and who might assist their families by learning to get their bread twenty honest ways, are suffered to lie about all day in the hope of a few chance halfpence, which, after all, they are by no means sure of getting. Indeed, when the neighboring gentlefolks found out that opening the gate was the family trade, they soon left off giving any thing. And I myself, though I used to take out a penny ready to give, had there been only one to receive it, when I saw a whole family established in so beggarly a trade, quietly put it back again into my pocket, and gave nothing at all. And so few travellers pass that way, that sometimes, after the whole family have lost a day, their gains do not Amount to two-pence.
As Giles had a far greater taste for living by his wits than his work, he was at one time in hopes that his children might get a pretty penny by tumbling for the diversion of travellers, and he set about training them in that indecent practice; but, unluckily, the moors being level, the carriages travelled faster than the children tumbled. He envied those parents who lived on the London road, over the Wiltshire downs, which downs being very hilly, it enables the tumbler to keep pace with the traveller, till he sometimes extorts from the light and the unthinking a reward instead of a reproof. I beg leave, however, to put all gentlemen and ladies in mind, that such tricks are a kind of apprenticeship to the trades of begging and thieving; and that nothing is more injurious to good morals than to encourage the poor in any habits which may lead them to live upon chance.
Giles, to be sure, as his children grew older, began to train them to such other employments as the idle habits they had learned at the gate very properly qualified them for. The right of common, which some of the poor cottagers have in that part of the country, and which is doubtless a considerable advantage to many, was converted by Giles into the means of corrupting his whole family; for his children, as soon as they grew too big for the trade of begging at the gate, were promoted to the dignity of thieving on the moor.
Here he kept two or three asses, miserable creatures, which, if they had the good fortune to escape an untimely death by starving, did not fail to meet with it by beating. Some of the biggest boys were sent out with these lean and galled animals to carry sand or coals about the neighboring towns. Both sand and coals were often stolen before they got them to sell; or if not, they always took care to cheat in selling them. By long practice in this art, they grew so dexterous that they could give a pretty good guess how large a coal they could crib out of every bag before the buyer would be likely to miss it.
All their odd time was taken up under the pretence of watching these asses on the moor, or running after five or six half-starved geese; but the truth is, these boys were only watching for an opportunity to steal an odd goose of their neighbor's, while they pretended to look after their own. They used also to pluck the quills or the down from these poor live creatures, or half milk a cow before the farmer's maid came with her pail. They all knew how to calculate to a minute what time to be down in a morning to let out their lank, hungry beasts, which they had turned over night into the farmer's field to steal a little good pasture. They contrived to get there just time enough to escape being caught in replacing the stakes they had pulled out for the cattle to get over. For Giles was a prudent, long-headed fellow; and wherever he stole food for his colts, took care never to steal stakes from the hedges at the same time. He had sense enough to know that the gain did not make up for the danger; he knew that a loose fagot, pulled from a neighbor's pile of wood after the family were gone to bed, answered the end better, and was not half the trouble.
Among the many trades which Giles professed, he sometimes practised that of a rat-catcher; but he was addicted to so many tricks, that he never followed the same trade long, for detection will sooner or later follow the best-concerted villany. Whenever he was sent for to a farm-house, his custom was to kill a few of the old rats, always taking care to leave a little stock of young ones alive sufficient to keep up the breed; "for," said he, "if I were to be such a fool as to clear a house or a barn at once, how would my trade be carried on?" And where any barn was overstocked, he used to borrow a few rats from thence, just to people a neighboring granary which had none; and he might have gone on till now, had he not unluckily been caught one evening emptying his cage of young rats under parson Wilson's barn-door.
This worthy minister, Mr. Wilson, used to pity the neglected children of Giles, as much as he blamed the wicked parents. He one day picked up Dick, who was far the best of Giles' bad boys. Dick was loitering about in a field behind the parson's garden, in search of a hen's nest, his mother having ordered him to bring home a few eggs that night, by hook or by crook, as Giles was resolved to have some pancakes for supper, though he knew that eggs were a penny apiece. Mr. Wilson had long been desirous of snatching some of this vagrant family from ruin; and his chief hopes were bent on Dick, as the least hackneyed in knavery. He had once given him a new pair of shoes, on his promising to go to school next Sunday; but no sooner had Rachel, the boy's mother, got the shoes into her clutches, than she pawned them for a bottle of gin, and ordered the boy to keep out of the parson's sight, and to be sure to play his marbles on Sunday, for the future, at the other end of the parish, and not near the churchyard.
Mr. Wilson, however, picked up the boy once more; for it was not his way to despair of any body. Dick was just going to take to his heels, as usual, for fear the old story of the shoes should be brought forward; but finding he could not get off, what does he do but run into a little puddle of muddy water which lay between him and the parson, that the sight of his naked feet might not bring on the dreaded subject. Now, it happened that Mr. Wilson was planting a little field of beans, so he thought this a good opportunity to employ Dick; and he told him he had got some pretty easy work for him. Dick did as he was bid; he willingly went to work, and readily began to plant his beans with dispatch and regularity, according to the directions given him.
While the boy was busily at work by himself, Giles happened to come by, having been skulking round the back way, to look over the parson's garden wall, to see if there was any thing worth climbing over for on the ensuing night. He spied Dick, and began to scold him for working for the stingy old parson; for Giles had a natural antipathy to whatever belonged to the church.
"What has he promised thee a day?" said he; "little enough, I dare say."
"He is not to pay me by the day," said Dick, "but says he will give me so much when I have planted this peck, and so much for the next."
"Oh, oh, that alters the case," said Giles. "One may, indeed, get a trifle by this sort of work. I hate your regular day-jobs, when one can't well avoid doing one's work for one's money. Come, give me a handful of the beans; I will teach thee how to plant when thou art paid for planting by the peck. All we have to do in that case is to dispatch the work as fast as we can, and get rid of the beans with all speed; and as to the seed coming up or not, that is no business of ours; we are paid for planting, not for growing. At the rate thou goest on, thou wouldst not get sixpence to-night. Come along, hurry away."
So saying, he took his hat-full of the seed, and where Dick had been ordered to set one bean, Giles buried a dozen; so the beans were soon out. But though the peck was emptied, the ground was unplanted. But cunning Giles knew this could not be found out till the time when the beans might be expected to come up; "and then, Dick," said he, "the snails and mice may go shares in the blame; or we can lay the fault on the rooks or the blackbirds." So saying, he sent the boy into the parsonage to receive his pay, taking care to secure about a quarter of the peck of beans for his own colt. He put both bag and beans into his own pocket to carry home, bidding Dick tell Mr. Wilson that he had planted the beans and lost the bag.
In the meantime Giles' other boys were busy in emptying the ponds and trout-streams in the neighboring manor. They would steal away the carp and tench when they were no bigger than gudgeons. By this untimely depredation they plundered the owner of his property, without enriching themselves. But the pleasure of mischief was reward enough.
These and a hundred other little thieveries they committed with such dexterity, that old Tom Crib, whose son was transported last assizes for sheep-stealing, used to be often reproaching his boys, that Giles' sons were worth a hundred of such blockheads as he had; for scarce a night passed but Giles had some little comfortable thing for supper which his boys had pilfered in the day, while his undutiful dogs never stole any thing worth having. Giles, in the meantime, was busy in his way; but as busy as he was in laying nets, starting coveys, and training dogs, he always took care that his depredations should not be confined merely to game.
Giles' boys had never seen the inside of a church, and the father thought he knew his own interest better than to force them to it; for church-time was the season of their harvest. Then the hens' nests were searched, a stray duck was clapped under the smockfrock, the tools which might have been left by chance in a farm-yard were picked up, and all the neighboring pigeon-houses were thinned; so that Giles used to boast to tawny Rachel, his wife, that Sunday was to them the most profitable day in the week.
With her it was certainly the most laborious day, as she always did her washing and ironing on Sunday morning, it being, as she said, the only leisure day she had; for on the other days she went about the country telling fortunes, and selling dream-books and wicked songs. Neither her husband's nor her children's clothes were ever mended, and if Sunday, her idle day, had not come about once in every week, it is likely they would never have been washed either. You might, however, see her as you were going to church smoothing her own rags on her best red cloak, which she always used for her ironing-cloth on Sundays, for her cloak when she travelled, and for her blanket at night: such a wretched manager was Rachel.
Among her other articles of trade, one was to make and sell peppermint, and other distilled waters. These she had the cheap art of making without trouble and without expense, for she made them without herbs and without a still. Her way was, to fill so many quart bottles with plain water, putting a spoonful of mint-water in the mouth of each; these she corked down with rosin, carrying to each customer a vial of real distilled water to taste, by way of sample. This was so good that her bottles were commonly bought up without being opened; but if any suspicion arose, and she was forced to uncork a bottle, by the few drops of distilled water lying at top, she even then escaped detection, and took care to get out of reach before the bottle was opened a second time. She was too prudent ever to go twice to the same house.
THE UPRIGHT MAGISTRATE.
There is hardly any petty mischief that is not connected with the life of a poacher. Mr. Wilson was aware of this; he was not only a pious clergyman, but an upright justice. He used to say, that people who were truly conscientious, must be so in small things as well as in great ones, or they would destroy the effect of their own precepts, and their example would not be of general use. For this reason he never would accept of a hare or a partridge from any unqualified person in his parish. He did not content himself with shuffling the thing off by asking no questions, and pretending to take it for granted in a general way that the game was fairly come at; but he used to say, that by receiving the booty he connived at a crime, made himself a sharer in it, and if he gave a present to the man who brought it, he even tempted him to repeat the fault.
One day poor Jack Weston, an honest fellow in the neighborhood, whom Mr. Wilson had kindly visited and relieved in a long sickness, from which he had but just recovered, was brought before him as he was sitting on the justice's bench. Jack was accused of having knocked down a hare; and of all the birds in the air, who should the informer be but Black Giles the poacher. Mr. Wilson was grieved at the charge; he had a great regard for Jack, but he had a still greater regard for the law. The poor fellow pleaded guilty. He did not deny the fact, but said he did not consider it a crime, for he did not think game was private property, and he owned he had a strong temptation for doing what he had done, which he hoped would plead in his excuse. The justice desired to know what this temptation was.
"Sir," said the poor fellow, "you know I was given over this spring in a bad fever. I had no friend in the world but you, sir. Under God, you saved my life by your charitable relief; and I trust also you may have helped to save my soul by your prayers and your good advice; for, by the grace of God, I have turned over a new leaf since that sickness.
"I know I can never make you amends for all your goodness; but I thought it would be some comfort to my full heart if I could but once give you some little token of my gratitude. So I had trained a pair of nice turtledoves for Madam Wilson; but they were stolen from me, sir, and I do suspect Black Giles stole them. Yesterday morning, sir, as I was crawling out to my work, for I am still but very weak, a fine hare ran across my path. I did not stay to consider whether it was wrong to kill a hare, but I felt it was right to show my gratitude; so, sir, without a moment's thought, I did knock down the hare, which I was going to carry to your worship, because I knew madam was fond of hare. I am truly sorry for my fault, and will submit to whatever punishment your worship may please to inflict."
Mr. Wilson was much moved with this honest confession, and touched with the poor fellow's gratitude. What added to the effect of the story, was the weak condition, and pale, sickly looks of the offender. But this worthy magistrate never suffered his feelings to bias his integrity; he knew that he did not sit on that bench to indulge pity, but to administer justice. And while he was sorry for the offender, he would never justify the offence.
"John," said he, "I am surprised that you could for a moment forget that I never accept any gift which causes the giver to break a law. On Sunday I teach you from the pulpit the laws of God, whose minister I am. At present I fill the chair of the magistrate, to enforce and execute the laws of the land. Between these and the others there is more connection than you are aware. I thank you, John, for your affection to me, and I admire your gratitude; but I must not allow either affection or gratitude to be brought as a plea for a wrong action. It is not your business nor mine, John, to settle whether the game-laws are good or bad. Till they are repealed we must obey them. Many, I doubt not, break these laws through ignorance, and many, I am certain, who would not dare to steal a goose or a turkey, make no scruple of knocking down a hare or a partridge. You will hereafter think yourself happy that this your first attempt has proved unsuccessful, as I trust you are too honest a fellow ever to intend to turn poacher. With poaching much more evil is connected: a habit of nightly depredation, a custom of prowling in the dark for prey, produces in time a disrelish for honest labor. He whose first offence was committed without much thought or evil intention, if he happens to succeed a few times in carrying off his booty undiscovered, grows bolder and bolder; and when he fancies there is no shame attending it, he very soon gets to persuade himself that there is also no sin. While some people pretend a scruple about stealing a sheep, they partly live by plundering of warrens. But remember, that the warrener pays a high rent, and that therefore his rabbits are as much his property as his sheep. Do not then deceive yourselves with these false distinctions. All property is sacred; and as the laws of the land are intended to fence in that property, he who brings up his children to break down any of these fences, brings them up to certain sin and ruin. He who begins with robbing orchards, rabbit-warrens, and fish-ponds, will probably end with horsestealing, or highway robbery. Poaching is a regular apprenticeship to bolder crimes. He whom I may commit as a boy to sit in the stocks for killing a partridge, may be likely to end at the gallows for killing a man.
"Observe, you who now hear me, the strictness and impartiality of justice. I know Giles to be a worthless fellow, yet it is my duty to take his information; I know Jack Weston to be an honest youth, yet I must be obliged to make him pay the penalty. Giles is a bad man, but he can prove this fact; Jack is a worthy lad, but he has committed this fault. I am sorry for you, Jack; but do not let it grieve you that Giles has played worse tricks a hundred times, and yet got off, while you were detected in the very first offence, for that would be grieving because you are not so great a rogue as Giles. At this moment you think your good luck is very unequal; but all this will one day turn out in your favor. Giles is not the more a favorite of heaven because he has hitherto escaped Botany Bay or the hulks; nor is it any mark of God's displeasure against you, John, that you were found out in your very first attempt."
Here the good justice left off speaking, and no one could contradict the truth of what he had said. Weston humbly submitted to his sentence, but he was very poor, and knew not where to raise the money to pay his fine. His character had always been so fair, that several farmers present kindly agreed to advance a trifle each, to prevent his being sent to prison, and he thankfully promised to work out the debt. The justice himself, though he could not soften the law, yet showed Weston so much kindness, that he was enabled, before the year was out, to get out of this difficulty. He began to think more seriously than he had ever yet done, and grew to abhor poaching, not merely from fear but from principle.
We shall soon see whether poaching Giles always got off so successfully. Here we have seen that worldly prosperity is no sure sign of goodness; and that "the triumphing of the wicked is short," will appear in the second part of the Poacher, containing the entertaining story of the Widow Brown's Apple-tree.
HISTORY OF WIDOW BROWN'S APPLE-TREE.
I think my readers are so well acquainted with Black Giles the poacher, that they will not expect to hear any great good, either of Giles himself, his wife Rachel, or any of their family. I am sorry to expose their tricks, but it is their fault, not mine. If I pretend to speak about people at all, I must tell the truth. I am sure, if folks would but turn about and mend, it would be a thousand times pleasanter to me to write their histories; as it is no comfort to tell of any body's faults. If the world would but grow good, I should be glad enough to tell of it; but till it really becomes so, I must go on describing it as it is; otherwise I should only mislead my readers, instead of instructing them. It is the duty of a faithful historian to relate the evil with the good.
As to Giles and his boys, I am sure old widow Brown has good reason to remember their dexterity. Poor woman, she had a fine little bed of onions in her neat and well-kept garden; she was very fond of her onions, and many a rheumatism has she caught by kneeling down to weed them in a damp day, notwithstanding the little flannel cloak and the bit of an old mat which Madam Wilson gave her, because the old woman would needs weed in wet weather. Her onions she always carefully treasured up for her winter's store; for an onion makes a little broth very relishing, and is, indeed, the only savory thing poor people are used to get.
She had also a small orchard, containing about a dozen apple-trees, with which, in a good year, she has been known to make a couple of barrels of cider, which she sold to her landlord towards paying her rent, besides having a little keg which she was able to keep back for her own drinking.
Well, would you believe it? Giles and his boys marked both onions and apples for their own. Indeed, a man who stole so many rabbits from the warren, was likely enough to steal onions for sauce. One day when the widow was abroad on a little business, Giles and his boys made a clear riddance of the onion-bed; and when they had pulled up every single onion, they then turned a couple of pigs into the garden, who, allured by the smell, tore up the bed in such a manner, that the widow, when she came home, had not the least doubt but the pigs had been the thieves. To confirm this opinion, they took care to leave the little hatch half open at one end of the garden, and to break down a bit of a fence at the other end.
I wonder how any body can find in his heart not to pity and respect poor old widows. There is something so forlorn and helpless in their condition, that methinks it is a call on every body, men, women, and children, to do them all the kind services that fall in their way. Surely, their having no one to take their part, is an additional reason for kind-hearted people not to hurt and oppress them. But it was this very reason which led Giles to do this woman an injury. With what a touching simplicity it is recorded in Scripture, of the youth whom our blessed Saviour raised from the dead, that he was the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.
It happened, unluckily for poor widow Brown, that her cottage stood quite alone. On several mornings together—for roguery gets up much earlier than industry—Giles and his boys stole regularly into her orchard, followed by their jackasses. She was so deaf that she could not hear the asses, if they had brayed ever so loud, and to this Giles trusted; for he was very cautious in his rogueries, since he could not otherwise have contrived so long to keep out of prison; for though he was almost always suspected, he had seldom been taken up, and never convicted. The boys used to fill their bags, load their asses, and then march off; and if, in their way to the town where the apples were to be sold, they chanced to pass by one of their neighbors who might be likely to suspect them, they then all at once began to scream out, "Buy my coal? buy my sand?"
Besides the trees in her orchard, poor widow Brown had in her small garden one apple-tree particularly fine; it was a redstreak, so tempting and so lovely that Giles' family had watched it with longing eyes, till at last they resolved on a plan for carrying off all this fine fruit in their bags. But it was a nice point to manage. The tree stood directly under her chamber window, so that there was some danger that she might spy them at the work. They therefore determined to wait till the next Sunday morning, when they knew she would not fail to be at church. Sunday came; it was a lone house, as I said before, and most of the parish were safe at church. In a trice the tree was cleared, the bags were filled, the asses were whipped, the thieves were off, the coast was clear, and all was safe and quiet by the time the sermon was over.
Unluckily, however, it happened, that this tree was so beautiful, and the fruit so fine, that the people, as they used to pass to and from church, were very apt to stop and admire widow Brown's redstreaks; and some of the farmers rather envied her, that in that scarce season, when they hardly expected to make a pie out of a large orchard, she was likely to make a cask of cider from a single tree. I am afraid, indeed, if I must speak out, she herself rather set her heart too much upon this fruit, and had felt as much pride in her tree as gratitude to a good Providence for it; but this failing of hers was no excuse for Giles. The covetousness of this thief had for once got the better of his caution; the tree was too completely stripped, though the youngest boy Dick did beg hard that his father would leave the poor old woman enough for a few dumplings; and when Giles ordered Dick in his turn to shake the tree, the boy did it so gently that hardly any apples fell, for which he got a good stroke of the stick with which the old man was beating down the apples.
The neighbors, on their return from church, stopped as usual; but it was—not, alas, to admire the apples, for apples there were none left, but to lament the robbery, and console the widow. Meantime the redstreaks were safely lodged in Giles' hovel, under a few bundles of hay, which he had contrived to pull from the farmer's mow the night before, for the use of his jackasses.
Such a stir, however, began to be made about the widow's apple-tree, that Giles, who knew how much his character laid him open to suspicion, as soon as he saw the people safe in church again in the afternoon, ordered his boys to carry each a hatful of the apples, and thrust them in at a little casement window, which happened to be open in the house of Samuel Price, a very honest carpenter in that parish, who was at church with his whole family. Giles' plan, by this contrivance, was to lay the theft on Price's sons, in case the thing should come to be further inquired into. Here Dick put in a word, and begged and prayed his father not to force them to carry the apples to Price's. But all that he got by his begging was such a knock as had nearly laid him on the earth.
"What, you cowardly rascal," said Giles, "you will go and peach, I suppose, and get your father sent to jail."
Poor widow Brown, though her trouble had made her still weaker than she was, went to church again in the afternoon; indeed, she rightly thought that her being in trouble was a new reason why she ought to go. During the service she tried with all her might not to think of her redstreaks; and whenever they would come into her head, she took up her prayer-book directly, and so she forgot them a little; and, indeed, she found herself much easier when she came out of the church than when she went in—an effect so commonly produced by prayer, that methinks it is a pity people do not try it oftener.
Now it happened oddly enough, that on that Sunday, of all the Sundays in the year, the widow should call in to rest a little at Samuel Price's, to tell over again the lamentable story of the apples, and to consult with him how the thief might be brought to justice. But O, reader, guess, if you can, for I am sure I cannot tell you, what was her surprise, when, on going into Samuel Price's kitchen, she saw her own redstreaks lying in the window! The apples were of a sort too remarkable for color, shape, and size, to be mistaken. There was not such another tree in the parish.
Widow Brown immediately screamed out, "'Las-a-day! as sure as can be, here are my redstreaks; I can swear to them in any court." Samuel Price, who believed his sons to be as honest as himself, was shocked and troubled at the sight. He knew he had no redstreaks of his own; he knew there were no apples in the window when he went to church; he did verily believe these apples to be the widow's. But how they came there he could not possibly guess. He called for Tom, the only one of his sons who now lived at home. Tom was at the Sunday-school, which he had never once missed since Mr. Wilson the minister had set one up in the parish. Was such a boy likely to do such a deed?
A crowd had by this time got about Price's door, among which was Giles and his boys, who had already taken care to spread the news that Tom Price was the thief. Most people were unwilling to believe it. His character was very good, but appearances were strongly against him. Mr. Wilson now came in. He was much concerned that Tom Price, the best boy in his school, should stand accused of such a crime. He sent for the boy, examined, and cross-examined him. No marks of guilt appeared. But still, though he pleaded not guilty, there lay the redstreaks in his father's window.
All the idle fellows in the place, who were most likely to have committed such a theft themselves, fell with great vengeance on poor Tom. The wicked seldom give any quarter. "This is one of your sanctified ones!" cried they. "This was all the good that Sunday-schools did! For their parts, they never saw any good come by religion. Sunday was the only day for a little pastime; and if poor boys must be shut up with their godly books, when they ought to be out taking a little pleasure, it was no wonder they made themselves amends by such tricks."
Another said he should like to see parson Wilson's righteous one well whipped. A third hoped he would be clapped in the stocks for a young hypocrite as he was; while old Giles, who thought it was the only way to avoid suspicion by being more violent than the rest, declared, that "he hoped the young dog would be transported for life."
Mr. Wilson was too wise and too just to proceed against Tom without full proof. He declared the crime was a very heavy one, and he feared that heavy must be the punishment. Tom, who knew his own innocence, earnestly prayed to God that it might be made to appear as clear as the noonday; and very fervent were his secret devotions on that night.
Black Giles passed his night in a very different manner. He set off as soon as it was dark, with his sons and their jackasses laden with their stolen goods. As such a cry was raised about the apples, he did not think it safe to keep them longer at home, but resolved to go and sell them at the next town; borrowing without leave a lame colt out of the moor to assist in carrying off his booty.
Giles and his eldest sons had rare sport all the way in thinking, that while they were enjoying the profit of their plunder, Tom Price would be whipped round the market-place at least, if not sent beyond sea. But the younger boy, Dick, who had naturally a tender heart, though hardened by his long familiarity with sin, could not help crying when he thought that Tom Price might perhaps be transported for a crime which he himself had helped to commit. He had had no compunction about the robbery, for he had not been instructed in the great principles of truth and justice; nor would he, therefore, perhaps have had much remorse about accusing an innocent boy. But, though utterly devoid of principle, he had some remains of natural feeling and of gratitude. Tom Price had often given him a bit of his own bread and cheese; and once, when Dick was like to be drowned, Tom had jumped into the pond with his clothes on, and saved his life, when he was just sinking: the remembrance of all this made his heart heavy. He said nothing; but, as he trotted, barefoot, after the asses, he heard his father and brothers laugh at having outwitted the godly ones; and he grieved to think how poor Tom would suffer for his wickedness, yet fear kept him silent: they called him sulky dog, and lashed the asses till they bled.
In the meantime, Tom Price kept up his spirits as well as he could. He worked hard all day, and prayed heartily night and morning.
"It is true," said he to himself, "I am not guilty of this sin; but let this accusation set me on examining myself, and truly repenting of all my other sins; for I find enough to repent of, though I thank God I did not steal the widow's apples."
At length Sunday came, and Tom went to school as usual. As soon as he walked in, there was a great deal of whispering and laughing among the worst of the boys; and he overheard them say, "Who would have thought it? This is master's favorite! This is parson Wilson's sober Tommy! We sha'n't have Tommy thrown in our teeth again, if we go to get a birdsnest, or gather a few nuts on a Sunday." "Your demure ones are always hypocrites," says another. "The still sow sucks all the milk," says a third.
Giles' family had always kept clear of the school. Dick, indeed, had sometimes wished to go: not that he had much sense of sin, or desire after goodness, but he thought if he could once read, he might rise in the world, and not be forced to drive asses all his life. Through this whole Saturday night he could not sleep. He longed to know what would be done to Tom. He began to wish to go to school, but he had not courage—sin is very cowardly: so, on the Sunday morning, he went and sat himself down under the church-wall. Mr. Wilson passed by. It was not his way to reject the most wicked, till he had tried every means to bring them over; and even then he pitied and prayed for them. He had, indeed, long left off talking to Giles' sons; but, seeing Dick sitting by himself, he once more spoke to him, desired him to leave off his vagabond life, and go with him into the school. The boy hung down his head, but made no answer. He did not, however, either rise up and run away, or look sulky, as he used to do. The minister desired him once more to go.
"Sir," said the boy, "I can't go; I am so big I am ashamed."
"The bigger you are, the less time you have to lose."
"But, sir, I can't read."
"Then it is high time you should learn."
"I should be ashamed to begin to learn my letters."
"The shame is not in beginning to learn them, but in being contented never to know them."
"But, sir, I am so ragged."
"God looks at the heart, and not at the coat."
"But, sir, I have no shoes and stockings."
"So much the worse; I remember who gave you both." Here Dick colored. "It is bad to want shoes and stockings; but still, if you can drive your asses a dozen miles without them, you may certainly walk a hundred yards to school without them."
"But, sir, the good boys will hate me, and wont speak to me."
"Good boys hate nobody; and as to not speaking to you, to be sure they will not keep you company while you go on in your present evil courses; but as soon as they see you wish to reform, they will help you, and pity you, and teach you; so come along." Here Mr. Wilson took this dirty boy by the hand, and gently pulled him forward, kindly talking to him all the way.
How the whole school stared to see Dick Giles come in! No one, however, dared to say what he thought. The business went on, and Dick slunk into a corner, partly to hide his rags, and partly to hide his sin; for last Sunday's transactions sat heavy on his heart, not because he had stolen the apples, but because Tom Price had been accused. This, I say, made him slink behind. Poor boy, he little thought there was One saw him who sees all things, and from whose eye no hole or corner can hide the sinner; for he is about our bed, and about our paths, and spieth out all our ways.
It was the custom in that school for the master, who was a good and wise man, to mark down in his pocketbook all the events of the week, that he might turn them to some account in his Sunday evening instructions: such as any useful story in the newspaper, any account of boys being drowned as they were out in a pleasure-boat on Sundays, any sudden death in the parish, or any other remarkable visitation of Providence; insomuch, that many young people in the place, who did not belong to the school, and many parents, also, used to drop in for an hour on a Sunday evening, when they were sure to hear something profitable. The minister greatly approved this practice, and often called in himself, which was a great support to the master, and encouragement to the people.
The master had taken a deep concern in the story of widow Brown's apple-tree. He could not believe Tom Price was guilty, nor dared he pronounce him innocent; but he resolved to turn the instructions of the present evening to this subject. He began thus: "My dear boys, however light some of you may make of robbing an orchard, yet I have often told you there is no such thing as a little sin, if it be wilful or habitual. I wish now to explain to you, also, that there is hardly such a thing as a single solitary sin. You know I teach you not merely to repeat the commandments as an exercise for your memory, but as a rule for your conduct. If you were to come here on a Sunday only to learn to read and spell, I should think that was not employing God's day for God's work; but I teach you to read, that you may, by this means, so understand the Bible and the catechism, as to make every text in the one, and every question and answer in the other, to be so fixed in your hearts, that they may bring forth the fruits of good living."
MASTER. "How many commandments are there?"
MASTER. "How many did that boy break who stole widow Brown's apples?"
BOY. "Only one, master; the eighth."
MASTER. "What is the eighth?"
BOY. "Thou shalt not steal."
MASTER. "And you are very sure that this was the only one he broke? Now, suppose I could prove to you that he probably broke, not less than six out of those ten commandments, which the great Lord of heaven himself stooped down from his eternal glory to deliver to men, would you not then think it a terrible thing to steal, whether apples or guineas?"
BOY. "Yes, master."
MASTER. "I will put the case. Some wicked boy has robbed widow Brown's orchard." Here the eyes of every one were turned on poor Tom Price, except those of Dick Giles, who fixed his on the ground. "I accuse no one," continued the master; "Tom Price is a good boy, and was not missing at the time of the robbery: these are two reasons why I presume he is innocent; but whoever it was, you allow that by stealing these apples he broke the eighth commandment?"
BOY. "Yes, master."
MASTER. "On what day were these apples stolen?"
BOY. "On Sunday."
MASTER. "What is the fourth commandment?"
BOY. "Thou shalt keep holy the Sabbath-day."
MASTER, "Does that person keep holy the Sabbath-day, who loiters in an orchard on Sunday when he should be at church, and steals apples when he ought to be at prayer?"
BOY. "No, master."
MASTER. "What command does he break?"
BOY. "The fourth."
MASTER. "Suppose this boy had parents, who had sent him to church, and that he had disobeyed them by not going; would that be keeping the fifth commandment?"
BOY. "No, master; for the fifth commandment says, 'Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother.'"
This was the only part in the case in which poor Dick Giles' heart did not smite him; for he knew he had disobeyed no father—for his father, alas, was still more wicked than himself, and had brought him up to commit the sin. But what a wretched comfort was this. The master went on.
MASTER. "Suppose this boy earnestly coveted this fruit, though it belonged to another person; would that be right?"
BOY. "No, master; for the tenth commandment says, 'Thou shalt not covet.'"
MASTER. "Very well. Here are four of God's positive commands already broken. Now, do you think thieves ever scruple to use wicked words?"
BOY. "I am afraid not, master."
Here Dick Giles was not so hardened but that he remembered how many curses had passed between him and his father while they were filling the bags, and he was afraid to look up. The master went on.
"I will now go one step further. If the thief to all his other sins has added that of accusing the innocent to save himself—if he should break the ninth commandment, by bearing false witness against a harmless neighbor, then six commandments are broken for an apple! But if it be otherwise, if Tom Price should be found guilty, it is not his good character shall save him. I shall shed tears over him, but punish him I must, and that severely."
"No, that you sha'n't," roared out Dick Giles, who sprung from his hiding-place, fell on his knees, and burst out a crying. "Tom Price is as good a boy as ever lived; it was father and I who stole the apples."
It would have done your heart good to have seen the joy of the master, the modest blushes of Tom Price, and the satisfaction of every honest boy in the school. All shook hands with Tom, and even Dick got some portion of pity. I wish I had room to give my readers the moving exhortation which the master gave. But while Mr. Wilson left the guilty boy to the management of the master, he thought it became him, as a minister and a magistrate, to go to the extent of the law in punishing the father.
Early on Monday morning, he sent to apprehend Giles. In the meantime, Mr. Wilson was sent for to a gardener's house, two miles distant, to attend a man who was dying. This was a duty to which all others gave way, in his mind. He set out directly; but what was his surprise, on his arrival, to see, on a little bed on the floor, poaching Giles lying, in all the agonies of death! Jack Weston, a poor young man, against whom Giles had informed for killing a hare, was kneeling by him, offering him some broth, and talking to him in the kindest manner. Mr. Wilson begged to know the meaning of all this; and Jack Weston spoke as follows:
"At four this morning, as I was going out to mow, passing under the high wall of this garden, I heard a most dismal moaning. The nearer I came, the more dismal it grew. At last, who should I see but poor Giles, groaning and struggling under a quantity of bricks and stones, but not able to stir. The day before, he had marked a fine large net on this old wall, and resolved to steal it; for he thought it might do as well to catch partridges as to preserve cherries: so, sir, standing on the very top of this wall, and tugging with all his might to loosen the net from the hooks which fastened it, down came Giles, net, wall, and all; for the wall was gone to decay. It was very high, indeed, and poor Giles not only broke his thigh, but has got a terrible blow on his brain, and is bruised all over like a mummy.
"On seeing me, sir, poor Giles cried out, 'Oh, Jack, I did try to ruin thee by lodging that information, and now thou wilt be revenged by letting me lie here and perish.'
"'God forbid, Giles,' cried I; 'thou shalt see what sort of revenge a Christian takes.' So, sir, I sent off the gardener's boy to fetch a surgeon, while I scampered home, and brought, on my back, this bit of a hammock, which is indeed my own bed, and put Giles upon it: we then lifted him up, bed and all, as tenderly as if he had been a gentleman, and brought him in here. My wife has just brought him a drop of nice broth; and now, sir, as I have done what I could for his poor perishing body, it was I who took the liberty to send to you to come and try to help his poor soul, for the doctor says he can't live."
Mr. Wilson could not help saying to himself, "Such an action as this is worth a whole volume of comments on that precept of our blessed Master, 'Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you.'"
Giles' dying groans confirmed the sad account Weston had just given. The poor wretch could neither pray himself, nor attend to the minister. He could only cry out, "Oh, sir, what will become of me? I don't know how to repent. O my poor wicked children! Sir, I have bred them all up in sin and ignorance. Have mercy on them, sir; let me not meet them in the place of torment to which I am going. Lord, grant them that time for repentance which I have thrown away!" He languished a few days, and died in great misery—a fresh and sad instance, that people who abuse the grace of God, and resist his Spirit, find it difficult to repent when they will.
Except the minister and Jack Western, no one came to see poor Giles, besides Tommy Price, who had been so sadly wronged by him. Tom often brought him his own rice and milk or apple-dumpling; and Giles, ignorant and depraved as he was, often cried out that "he thought now there must be some truth in religion, since it taught even a boy to deny himself, and to forgive an injury." Mr. Wilson, the next Sunday, made a moving discourse on the danger of what are called "petty offences." This, together with the awful death of Giles, produced such an effect, that no poacher has been able to show his head in that parish ever since.
OR, THE FORTUNE-TELLER. WITH SOME ACCOUNT OF DREAMS, OMENS, AND CONJURERS
BY HANNAH MORE.
Tawney Rachel was the wife of poaching Giles. There seemed to be a conspiracy in Giles' whole family to maintain themselves by tricks and pilfering. Regular labor and honest industry did not suit their idle habits. They had a sort of genius at finding out every unlawful means to support a vagabond life. Rachel travelled the country with a basket on her arm. She pretended to get her bread by selling laces, cabbage-nets, ballads, and history-books, and used to buy old rags and rabbit skins. Many honest people trade in these things, and I am sure I do not mean to say a word against honest people, let them trade in what they will. But Rachel only made this traffic a pretence for getting admittance into farmers' kitchens, in order to tell fortunes.
She was continually practising on the credulity of silly girls; and took advantage of their ignorance to cheat and deceive them. Many an innocent servant has she caused to be suspected of a robbery, while she herself, perhaps, was in league with the thief. Many a harmless maid has she brought to ruin by contriving plots and events herself, and then pretending to foretell them. She had not, to be sure, the power of really foretelling things, because she had no power of seeing into futurity; but she had the art sometimes to bring them about according as she had foretold them. So she got that credit for her wisdom which really belonged to her wickedness.
Rachel was also a famous interpreter of dreams, and could distinguish exactly between the fate of any two persons who happened to have a mole on the right or the left cheek. She had a cunning way of getting herself off when any of her prophecies failed. When she explained a dream according to the natural appearance of things, and it did not come to pass, then she would get out of that scrape by saying, that "this sort of dreams went by contraries." Now, of two very opposite things the chance always is, that one of them may turn out to be true; so in either case she kept up the cheat.
Rachel, in one of her rambles, stopped at the house of farmer Jenkins. She contrived to call when she knew the master of the house was from home, which indeed was her usual way. She knocked at the door. The maids being out haymaking, Mrs. Jenkins went to open it herself. Rachel asked her if she would please to let her light her pipe. This was a common pretence, when she could find no other way of getting into a house. While she was filling her pipe, she looked at Mrs. Jenkins, and said she could tell her some good fortune. The farmer's wife, who was a very inoffensive, but a weak and superstitious woman, was curious to know what she meant. Rachel then looked about very carefully, and shutting the door with a mysterious air, asked her if she was sure nobody would hear them. This appearance of mystery was at once delightful and terrifying to Mrs. Jenkins, who, with trembling agitation, bade the cunning woman speak out.
"Then," said Rachel in a solemn whisper, "there is to my certain knowledge a pot of money hid under one of the stones in your cellar."
"Indeed," said Mrs. Jenkins, "it is impossible; for now I think of it, I dreamed last night I was in prison for debt."
"Did you indeed?" said Rachel, "that is quite surprising. Did you dream before twelve o'clock, or after?"
"O, it was this morning, just before I awoke."
"Then I am sure it is true, for morning dreams always go by contraries," cried Rachel. "How lucky it was you dreamed it so late."
Mrs. Jenkins could hardly contain her joy, and asked how the money was to be come at.
"There is but one way," said Rachel; "I must go into the cellar. I know by my art under which stone it lies, but I must not tell."
Then they both went down into the cellar, but Rachel refused to point at the stone, unless Mrs. Jenkins would put five pieces of gold into a basin, and do as she directed. The simple woman, instead of turning her out of doors for a cheat, did as she was bid. She put the guineas into a basin, which she gave into Rachel's hand. Rachel strewed some white powder over the gold, muttered some barbarous words, and pretended to perform the black art. She then told Mrs. Jenkins to put the basin quietly down within the cellar; telling her, that if she offered to look into it, or even to speak a word, the charm would be broken. She also directed her to lock the cellar-door, and on no pretence to open it in less than forty-eight hours.
"If," added she, "you closely follow these directions, then, by the power of my art, you will find the basin conveyed to the very stone under which the money lies hid, and a fine treasure it will be." Mrs. Jenkins, who believed every word the woman said, did exactly as she was told, and Rachel took her leave with a handsome reward.
When farmer Jenkins came home, he desired his wife to draw him a cup of cider; this she put off doing so long that he began to be displeased. At last she begged he would drink a little beer instead. He insisted on knowing the reason, and when at last he grew angry, she told him all that had passed; and owned that as the pot of gold happened to be in the cider-cellar, she did not dare to open the door, as she was sure it would break the charm. "And it would be a pity, you know," said she, "to lose a good fortune for the sake of a draught of cider."
The farmer, who was not so easily imposed upon, suspected a trick. He demanded the key, and went and opened the cellar-door; there he found the basin, and in it five round pieces of tin covered with powder. Mrs. Jenkins burst out a crying; but the farmer thought of nothing but getting a warrant to apprehend the cunning woman. Indeed, she well proved her claim to that name, when she insisted that the cellar-door might be kept locked till she had time to get out of the reach of all pursuit.
* * * * *
Poor Sally Evans. I am sure she rued the day that ever she listened to a fortune-teller. Sally was as harmless a girl as ever churned a pound of butter; but Sally was ignorant and superstitious. She delighted in dream-books, and had consulted all the cunning women in the country to tell her whether the two moles on her cheek denoted that she was to have two husbands, or only two children. If she picked up an old horseshoe going to church, she was sure that would be a lucky week. She never made a black-pudding without borrowing one of the parson's old wigs to hang in the chimney, firmly believing there were no other means to preserve them from bursting.
She would never go to bed on Midsummer-eve without sticking up in her room the well-known plant called Midsummer-men, as the bending of the leaves to the right or to the left, would not fail to tell her whether Jacob, of whom we shall speak presently, was true or false. She would rather go five miles about than pass near a churchyard at night. Every seventh year she would not eat beans, because they grew downward in the pod, instead of upward; and she would rather have gone with her gown open than have taken a pin of an old woman, for fear of being bewitched.
Poor Sally had so many unlucky days in her calendar, that a large portion of her time became of little use, because on these days she did not dare set about any new work. And she would have refused the best offer in the country if made to her on a Friday, which she thought so unlucky a day, that she often said what a pity it was that there was any Friday in the week. Sally had twenty pounds left her by her grandmother. She had long been courted by Jacob, a sober lad, with whom she lived a fellow-servant at a creditable farmer's. Honest Jacob, like his namesake of old, thought it little to wait seven years to get this damsel to wife, because of the love he bore her, for Sally had promised to marry him when he could match her twenty pounds with another of his own.
Now, there was one Robert, a rambling, idle young gardener, who, instead of sitting down steadily in one place, used to roam about the country, and do odd jobs where he could get them. No one understood any thing about him, except that he was a down-looking fellow, who came nobody knew whence, and got his bread nobody knew how, and never had a penny in his pocket. Robert, who was now in the neighborhood, happened to hear of Sally Evans and her twenty pounds. He immediately conceived a longing desire for the latter. So he went to his old friend Rachel, told her all he had heard of Sally, and promised if she could bring about a marriage between them, she should go shares in the money.
Rachel undertook the business. She set off to the farm-house, and fell to singing one of her most enticing songs just under the dairy window. Sally was so struck with the pretty tune, which was unhappily used, as is too often the case, to set off some very loose words, that she jumped up, dropped the skimming dish into the cream, and ran out to buy the song.
While she stooped down to rummage the basket for those songs which had the most tragical pictures—for Sally had a most tender heart, and delighted in whatever was mournful—Rachel looked steadfastly in her face, and told her she knew by her art that she was born to good fortune, but advised her not to throw herself away. "These two moles on your cheek," added she, "show you are in some danger."
"Do they denote husbands or children?" cried Sally, starting up, and letting fall the song of the Children in the Wood.
"Husbands," muttered Rachel.
"Alas, poor Jacob," said Sally mournfully; "then he will die first, wont he?"
"Mum for that," quoth the fortune-teller; "I will say no more."
Sally was impatient, but the more curiosity she discovered, the more mystery Rachel affected. At last she said, "If you will cross my hand with a piece of silver, I will tell you your fortune. By the power of my art, I can do this three ways: by cards, by the lines of your hand, or by turning a cup of tea-grounds; which will you have?"
"O, all, all," cried Sally, looking up with reverence to this sunburnt oracle of wisdom, who knew no less than three different ways of diving into the secrets of futurity. Alas, persons of better sense than Sally have been so taken in; the more is the pity.
The poor girl said she would run up stairs to her little box, where she kept her money tied up in a bit of an old glove, and would bring down a bright queen Anne's sixpence very crooked. "I am sure," added she, "it is a lucky one, for it cured me of a very bad ague last spring, by only laying it nine nights under my pillow, without speaking a word. But then you must know what gave virtue to this sixpence was, that it had belonged to three young men of the name of John; I am sure I had work enough to get it. But true it is, it certainly cured me. It must be the sixpence you know, for I am sure I did nothing else for my ague, except indeed taking some bitter stuff every three hours, which the doctor called bark. To be sure, I lost my ague soon after I took it, but I am certain it was owing to the crooked sixpence, and not to the bark. And so, good woman, you may come in if you will, for there is not a soul in the house but me." This was the very thing Rachel wanted to know, and very glad she was to learn it.
While Sally was above stairs untying her glove, Rachel slipped into the parlor, took a small silver cup from the beaufet, and clapped it into her pocket. Sally ran down lamenting that she had lost her sixpence, which she verily believed was owing to her having put it into a left glove, instead of a right one. Rachel comforted her by saying, that "if she gave her two plain ones instead, the charm would work just as well."
Simple Sally thought herself happy to be let off so easily, never calculating that a smooth shilling was worth two crooked sixpences. But this skill was a part of the black art in which Rachel excelled. She took the money, and began to examine the lines of Sally's left hand. She bit her withered lip, shook her head, and bade her, poor dupe, beware of a young man, who had black hair.
"No, indeed," cried Sally, all in a fright, "you mean black eyes, for our Jacob has got brown hair; 'tis his eyes that are black."
"That is the very thing I was going to say," muttered Rachel; "I meant eyes, though I said hair; for I know his hair is as brown as a chesnut, and his eyes as black as a sloe."
"So they are, sure enough," cried Sally; "how in the world could you know that?" forgetting that she herself had just told her so. And it is thus that these hags pick out of the credulous all which they afterwards pretend to reveal to them.
"Oh, I know a pretty deal more than that," said Rachel, "but you must be aware of this man."
"Why so?" cried Sally with great quickness.
"Because," answered Rachel, "you are fated to marry a man worth a hundred of him, who has grey eyes, light hair, and a stoop in the shoulders."
"No, indeed, but I can't," said Sally; "I have promised Jacob, and Jacob I will marry."
"You cannot, child," returned Rachel, in a solemn tone; "it is out of your power; you are fated to marry the grey eyes and light hair."
"Nay, indeed," said Sally, sighing deeply, "if I am fated, I must; I know there is no resisting one's fate." This is a common cant with poor deluded girls, who are not aware that they themselves make their fate by their folly, and then complain there is no resisting it.
"What can I do?" said Sally.
"I will tell you that too," said Rachel. "You must take a walk next Sunday afternoon to the churchyard, and the first man you meet in a blue coat, with a large posy of pinks and southernwood in his bosom, sitting on the churchyard wall, about seven o'clock, he will be the man."
"Provided," said Sally, much disturbed, "that he has grey eyes, and stoops."
"O, to be sure," said Rachel; "otherwise it is not the right man."
"But if I should mistake," said Sally; "for two men may happen to have a coat and eyes of the same color."
"To prevent that," replied Rachel, "if it is the right man, the two first letters of his name will be R.P. This man has got money beyond sea."
"Oh, I do not value his money," said Sally, with tears in her eyes, "for I love Jacob better than house or land; but if I am fated to marry another, I can't help it; you know there is no struggling against my fate."
Poor Sally thought of nothing and dreamed of nothing all the week but the blue coat and the grey eyes. She made a hundred blunders at her work. She put her rennet into the butter-pan, and her skimming dish into the cheese-tub. She gave the curds to the hogs, and put the whey into the vats. She put her little knife out of her pocket, for fear it should cut love; and would not stay in the kitchen, if there was not an even number of people, lest it should break the charm. She grew cold and mysterious in her behavior to faithful Jacob, whom she truly loved. But the more she thought of the fortune-teller, the more she was convinced that brown hair and black eyes were not what she was fated to marry, and therefore, though she trembled to think it, Jacob could not be the man.
On Sunday she was too uneasy to go to church; for poor Sally had never been taught, that her being uneasy was only a fresh reason why she ought to go thither. She spent the whole afternoon in her little garret, dressing in all her best. First she put on her red ribbon, which she had bought at last Lammas fair; then she recollected that red was an unlucky color, and changed it for a blue ribbon, tied in a true lover's knot; but suddenly calling to mind that poor Jacob had bought this knot for her of a pedlar at the door, and that she had promised to wear it for his sake, her heart smote her, and she laid it by, sighing to think she was not fated to marry the man who had given it to her.
When she had looked at herself twenty times in the glass—for one vain action always brings on another—she set off, trembling and quaking every step she went. She walked eagerly towards the churchyard, not daring to look to the right or left, for fear she should spy Jacob, who would have offered to walk with her, and so have spoiled all. As soon as she came within sight of the wall, she spied a man sitting upon it. Her heart beat violently. She looked again; but alas, the stranger not only had on a black coat, but neither hair nor eyes answered the description. She now happened to cast her eyes on the church-clock, and found she was two hours before her time. This was some comfort. She walked away and got rid of the two hours as well as she could, paying great attention as she went not to walk over any straws which lay across, and carefully looking to see if there were never an old horseshoe in the way, that infallible symptom of good fortune.
While the clock was striking seven, she returned to the churchyard, and, O the wonderful power of fortune-tellers, there she saw him! there sat the very man: his hair as light as flax, his eyes as blue as buttermilk, and his shoulders as round as a tub. Every tittle agreed, to the very nosegay in his waistcoat buttonhole. At first, indeed, she thought it had been sweet-briar, and glad to catch at a straw, whispered to herself, It is not he, and I shall marry Jacob still; but on looking again, she saw it was southernwood plain enough, and that of course all was over. The man accosted her with some very nonsensical, but too acceptable compliments. Sally was naturally a modest girl, and but for Rachel's wicked arts, would not have had courage to talk with a strange man; but how could she resist her fate, you know? After a little discourse, she asked him with a trembling heart, what might be his name.
"Robert Price, at your service," was the answer.
"Robert Price! that is R.P. as sure as I am alive, and the fortune-teller was a witch. It is all out; it is all out! O the wonderful art of fortune-tellers!"
The little sleep she had that night was disturbed with dreams of graves, and ghosts, and funerals; but as they were morning dreams, she knew those always went by contraries, and that a funeral denoted a wedding. Still, a sigh would now and then heave, to think that in that wedding Jacob could have no part. Such of my readers as know the power which superstition has over the weak and credulous mind, scarcely need be told, that poor Sally's unhappiness was soon completed. She forgot all her vows to Jacob; she at once forsook an honest man whom she loved, and consented to marry a stranger, of whom she knew nothing, from a ridiculous notion that she was compelled to do so by a decree which she had it not in her power to resist. She married this Robert Price, the strange gardener, whom she soon found to be very worthless, and very much in debt. He had no such thing as "money beyond sea," as the fortune-teller had told her; but, alas, he had another wife there. He got immediate possession of Sally's L20. Rachel put in for her share, but he refused to give her a farthing, and bade her get away, or he would have her taken up on the vagrant act. He soon ran away from Sally, leaving her to bewail her own weakness; for it was that indeed, and not any irresistible fate, which had been the cause of her ruin. To complete the misery, she herself was suspected of having stolen the silver cup which Rachel had pocketed. Her master, however, would not prosecute her, as she was falling into a deep decline, and she died in a few months of a broken heart, a sad warning to all credulous girls.
* * * * *
Rachel, whenever she got near home, used to drop her trade of fortune-telling, and only dealt in the wares of her basket. Mr. Wilson, the clergyman, found her one day dealing out some very wicked ballads to some children. He went up with a view to give her a reprimand; but had no sooner begun his exhortation than up came a constable, followed by several people.
"There she is, that is she, that is the old witch who tricked my wife out of the five guineas," said one of them. "Do your office, constable; seize the old hag. She may tell fortunes and find pots of gold in Taunton jail, for there she will have nothing else to do."
This was that very farmer Jenkins, whose wife had been cheated by Rachel of the five guineas. He had taken pains to trace her to her own parish: he did not so much value the loss of the money, but he thought it was a duty he owed the public to clear the country of such vermin. Mr. Wilson immediately committed her. She took her trial at the next assizes, when she was sentenced to a year's imprisonment.
In the meantime the pawnbroker to whom she had sold the silver cup, which she had stolen from poor Sally's master, impeached her; and as the robbery was fully proved upon Rachel, she was sentenced for this crime to Botany Bay; and a happy day it was for the county of Somerset, when such a nuisance was sent out of it. She was transported much about the same time that her husband Giles lost his life, in stealing the net from the garden wall, as related in the second part of Poaching Giles.
I have thought it my duty to print this little history, as a kind of warning to all young men and maidens, not to have any thing to say to cheats, impostors, cunning women, fortune-tellers, conjurers, and interpreters of dreams. Listen to me, your true friend, when I assure you that God never reveals to weak and wicked women those secret designs of his providence, which no human wisdom is able to foresee. To consult these false oracles is not only foolish, but sinful. It is foolish, because they are themselves as ignorant as those whom they pretend to teach; and it is sinful, because it is prying into that futurity which God, in mercy as well as wisdom, hides from men.
God indeed orders all things; but when you have a mind to do a foolish thing, do not fancy you are fated to do it. This is tempting Providence, and not trusting him. It is, indeed, "charging God with folly." Prudence is his gift, and you obey him better when you make use of prudence under the direction of prayer, than when you madly run into ruin, and think you are only submitting to your fate. Never fancy that you are compelled to undo yourself, or to rush upon your own destruction, in compliance with any supposed fatality. Never believe that God conceals his will from a sober Christian who obeys his laws, and reveals it to a vagabond gypsy, who runs up and down, breaking the laws both of God and man. King Saul never consulted the witch till he had left off serving God. The Bible will direct us what to do, better than any conjurer; and no days are unlucky but those which we make so by our own vanity, folly, and sin.
THE HAPPY WATERMAN
A gentleman and lady walking on the bank of the river Thames, spied a small ferry-boat, with a neatly-dressed waterman, rowing towards them; on his nearer approach, they read on the stern of his boat these words, THE HAPPY WATERMAN. Without taking any notice of it, they determined to enter into conversation with him; and inquiring into his situation in life, they found that he had a wife and five children, and supported also an old father and mother-in-law by his own labor. The gentleman and lady were upon this still more surprised at the title he had given himself, and said,
"My friend, if this is your situation, how is it that you call yourself 'the happy waterman'?"
"I can easily explain this to your satisfaction," answered the young man, "if you will give me leave;" and they desiring him to proceed, he spoke as follows: "I have observed that the greatest blessings in life are often looked upon as the greatest distresses, and are, in fact, made such by means of imprudent conduct. My father and mother died a few years ago, and left a large family. My father was a waterman, and I was his assistant in the management of a ferry-boat, by which he supported his family. On his death, it was necessary, in order to pay his just debts, to sell our boat. I parted from it, even with tears; but the distress that I felt spurred me on to industry, for I said, 'I will use every kind of diligence to purchase my boat back again.' I went to the person who had bought it, and told him my design; he had given five guineas for it, but told me, as I was once the owner, that I should have it whenever I could raise five pounds. 'Shall the boat be mine again?' said I; and my heart bounded at the thought.
"I was at this time married to a good young woman, and we lived at a neighboring cottage; she was young, healthy, and industrious, and so was I, and we loved one another. What might we not undertake? My father used to say to me, 'Always do what is right; labor diligently, and spend your money carefully, and God will bless your store.' We treasured up these rules, and determined to try the truth of them.
"My wife had long chiefly supported two aged parents: I loved them as my own; and the desire of contributing to their support was an additional spur to my endeavors to repurchase the boat. I entered myself as a day-laborer in the garden of our squire; and my wife was called occasionally to perform some services at the house, and employed herself in needle-work, spinning, or knitting at home. Not a moment in the day was suffered to pass unemployed. We spared for ourselves, and furnished all the comforts we could to the poor about us; and every week we dropped a little overplus into a fairing-box, to buy the boat. If any accident of charity brought us an additional shilling, we did not enlarge our expense, but kept it for the boat. The more care we took, the more comfortable we felt, for we were the nearer the possession of our little boat. Our labor was lightened by looking forward to the attainment of our wishes.
"Our family indeed increased, but with it our friends increased also; for the cleanliness and frugality which furnished our cottage, and the content and cheerfulness that appeared in it, drew the notice of our rich neighbors—of my master and mistress particularly, whose rule was to assist the industrious, but not to encourage the idle. They did not approve of giving money to the poor, but in cold winters, or dear times, allowed us to buy things at a cheaper rate; this was money to us, for when we counted our little cash for the week's marketing, all that was saved to us by our tickets to purchase things at reduced prices, went into our 'little box.' If my children got a penny at school for a reward to buy gingerbread, they brought it home, they said, to help me to buy the boat—for they would have no gingerbread till father had got his boat again. Thus, from time to time, our little store insensibly increased, till one pound only was wanting of the five, when the following accident happened.
"Coming home one evening from my work, I saw in the road a small pocketbook: on opening it, I found a bank-note of ten pounds, which plainly enough belonged to my master, for his name was upon it, and I had also seen him passing that way in the evening: it being too late, however, to return to the house, I went on my way. When I told my family of the incident, the little ones were thrown into a transport of joy.
"'My dears,' said I, 'what is the matter?'
"'Oh, father, the BOAT! the BOAT! we may now have two or three boats!'
"I checked them by my looks, and asked them if they recollected whose money that was. They said, 'Yours, as you found it.' I reminded them that I was not the real owner, and bade them think how they would all feel, supposing a stranger was to take our box of money, if I should happen to drop it on the day I went to buy back the boat.
"This thought had the effect on their young minds that I desired; they were silent and pale with the representation of such a disaster, and I begged it might be a lesson to them never to forget the golden rule of 'doing as they would wish others to do by them;' for by attention to this certain guide, no one would ever do wrong to another. I also took this opportunity to explain to them, that the possession of the boat by dishonest means would never answer, since we could not expect the blessing of God upon bad deeds."
"To go on with my story: The next morning I put the pocketbook into my bosom, and went to my work, intending, as soon as the family rose, to give it to my master; but what were my feelings when, on searching in my bosom, it was nowhere to be found! I hasted back along the road by which I came, and looked diligently all the way, but in vain; there was no trace of any such thing. I would not return into my cottage, because I wished to save my family the pain I felt; and in the hope of still recovering the book, I went to my work, following another path which I recollected I had also gone by. On my return to the garden-gate, I was accosted by the gardener, who, in a threatening tone, told me I was suspected; that our master had lost a pocketbook, describing what I had found, and that I being the only man absent from the garden at the hour of work, the rest of the men also denying that they had seen any such thing, there was every reason to conclude that I must have got it.
"Before I could answer, my distressed countenance confirmed the suspicion; and another servant coming up, said I was detected, for that a person had been sent to my house, and that my wife and family had owned it all, and had described the pocketbook. I told them the real fact, but it seemed to every one unlikely to be true; every circumstance was against me, and—my heart trembles to look back upon it—I was arrested, and hurried away to prison. I protested my innocence, but I did not wonder that I gained no credit.
"Great grief now oppressed my heart; my poor wife, my dear children, and my grey-headed parents, were all at once plunged into want and misery, instead of the ease and happiness which we were expecting; for we were just arriving at the height of our earthly wishes. I had, however, one consolation left—that I knew I was innocent; and I trusted that by persevering in honesty, all might come right at last. My resolution was, as I had certainly been the cause, though without any design, of the second loss of the property, that I would offer the whole of our little store, to make it good as far as in my power; and I sent for my wife to give her this sad commission, but she informed me that even this sacrifice could be of no avail; 'for,' said she, 'my master has been at the cottage, when I told him freely how you had found the note, but, unfortunately, had lost it again; and I added, that I was sure both I and my husband would make the best return in our power; after which I produced our little fairing-box, and begged him to accept the contents, which had been so long raising, as all we had to offer.' But, sir," said the waterman, "conceive my agony, when she added, that my master angrily refused, saying, that our being in possession of all that money was of itself the clearest proof of my guilt; for it was impossible, with my large family, and no greater opportunities than my neighbors, that I could come honestly by such a sum; therefore he was determined to keep me in jail till I should pay the whole.
"My unhappiness was very great; however, my mind by degrees began to be more easy, for I grew confident that I should not trust in God and my own innocence in vain—and so it happened: one of my fellow-laborers proved to be the person who had picked up the note after I had dropped it, having come a few minutes after me along the same road to his work, and hearing that the suspicion had fallen altogether upon me, he was tempted to turn the accident to his own advantage, and conceal the property; which having kept in his own box for a few weeks, till he thought no suspicion would rest upon him, he went and offered the note for change, and being then suspected, my master had him taken up, and I was released.
"The second change, from so much misery to happiness, was almost too much for us. My master sent for me, and with many expressions of concern for what had passed, made me give him an account of the means by which I had collected the little fund that fixed his suspicions so strongly upon me. I accordingly related the history of it as I have now done; and when I came to that part where I checked my children for their inconsiderate joy on finding the note, he rose with much kindness in his looks, and putting the bank-bill into my hand, he said,
"'Take it; the bank-note shall be theirs. It is the best and only return I can make you, as well as a just reward of your honesty; and it will be a substantial proof to your children of the goodness of your instructions, for they will thus early see and feel the benefit of honesty and virtue.'
"This kind and worthy gentleman interested himself much in the purchase of my boat, which, in less than a week, I was in full possession of. The remainder of my master's bounty, and the additional advantage of the ferry, has placed me in comfortable circumstances, which I humbly trust God will continue to us as long as we continue our labor and honest diligence; and I can say from my long experience, that the fruit of our own industry is always sweetest. I have now also the pleasure of being able to help others; for when a rich passenger takes my ferry, as my story is well known in the neighborhood, he often gives me more than my fare, which enables me to let the next poor person go over for half price."
The lady and gentleman were extremely pleased with the waterman's story, and willingly joined in calling him the happy waterman. They passed over in his ferry-boat for the sake of making him a handsome present. And from this time becoming acquainted with his family, they did them every service in their power, giving books and schooling to the little ones, and every comfort to the old father and mother-in-law as long as they survived. They were very desirous of knowing what became of the unfortunate fellow-laborer, who had so dreadfully gone aside from the principles of honesty, and they learned that he was, after a short imprisonment, set at liberty by his master at the earnest entreaty of the honest waterman, as he said it was partly through his carelessness in losing the note, that the temptation had fallen in his fellow-laborer's way; he had, moreover, a very large family. His master also was so good as to consider that he was a man who had not been blessed with a good education in his youth; so that having little fear of God before his eyes, and having a great temptation in his way, he had been the more easily led to commit this very wicked action, by which he would have enriched himself at the expense of an innocent man.
I have great pleasure in adding, that the thought of what he had done, together with the generosity of the waterman, had so strong an effect upon this poor fellow, that he afterwards had it written upon his cottage door, DO AS YOU WOULD BE DONE UNTO. And he has resolved to follow this rule himself in future, and also taught it to all his children. Indeed, it became a rule well known over the whole parish; for every little child having been informed of this story, was told that he ought to consider, before he did any action, whether he would like his brother, or sister, or school-fellow to do the same by him; and if not, that the action was wrong, and not to be done, let the profit be ever so great. Surely, then, those who have lived long, and seen much of life, and have had much religious instruction also, should never depart from this simple and certain rule. And it is the same to all ranks—it requires neither learning nor abilities to "do as you would be done unto;" nor can any station, however great, no, nor any circumstances, however trying, excuse men from giving their constant attention to this golden rule.
Here rests in peace a Christian wife, Safe from the cares and ills of life; Taught by kind Heaven's afflicting rod, She well had learned her way to GOD. Once a gay girl, she trod the green, The foremost in the festive scene; 'Twas then she followed all her will, And wedded William of the hill. No heart had he for prayer and praise, No thought of God's most holy ways: Of worldly gains he loved to speak, In worldly cares he spent his week; E'en Sunday passed unheeded by, And both forgot that they must die.
While thus by Satan quite beguiled, The God of mercy smote her child: Bereft of one sweet infant dear, She shed the mother's mournful tear; A second next she tried to save, Then bore the second to the grave; Both on one day the parent led To silent mansions of the dead. There, while she wept her children's fate. She learned to feel her mortal state; Stood pondering all her errors past, As if that day had been her last;
And as she held the mournful bier, Dropt for herself a secret tear. Once she believed her sins were few, But this one moment cleared her view; Then first she felt a Saviour's need, Sinner in thought, and word, and deed. Of her own worth she ceased to dream, For Christ's redemption was her theme. Henceforth her ways were ordered right, She "walked by faith, and not by sight;" She read God's word, believed it true, And strove to practise what she knew.
Her husband saw the mighty change, And thought at first her humor strange; Deemed his own worldly ways the best— But soon his error stood confessed. Ceased is the noise, the jarring strife, For now how humble is the wife! He proudly feels each cross event, While she, poor sinner, is content; No more she has her stubborn will, Returns him daily good for ill; And though her love is still the same. She loves him with a purer flame. Oft would she pray the God of grace His lofty spirit to abase;
Upward his grovelling thoughts to raise, And teach him humble prayer and praise. Heaven heard her voice: the youth so gay, The thoughtless sinner, learned to pray; Sad sickness too, with pain and smart, Was sent to soften all his heart. She followed next her husband's bier, She wiped his last repenting tear; She heard him mourn his former pride, She heard him thank her when he died. Here, then, in hope of endless life, Rest both the husband and the wife; Here too, the babes whom God hath given, And such, we trust, shall enter heaven.
ADDRESS TO PERSONS ATTENDING A FUNERAL.
Ye mourners, who in silent gloom Bear your dear kindred to the tomb, Grudge not, when Christians go to rest; They sleep in JESUS, and are blest. Call then to mind their faith, their love, Their meetness for the realms above; And if to heaven a saint is fled, O mourn the living, not the dead; Weep o'er the thousands that remain, Deep sunk in sin, or racked with pain; Mourn your own crimes and wicked ways, And learn to number all your days; Gain wisdom from this mournful stone, And make this Christian's case your own.
PARLEY THE PORTER.
AN ALLEGORY. SHOWING HOW ROBBERS WITHOUT CAN NEVER GET INTO A HOUSE UNLESS THERE ARE TRAITORS WITHIN.
BY HANNAH MORE.
There was once a certain gentleman who had a house, or castle, situated in the midst of a great wilderness, but inclosed in a garden. Now there was a band of robbers in the wilderness, who had a great mind to plunder and destroy the castle; but they had not succeeded in their endeavors, because the master had given strict orders to "watch without ceasing." To quicken their vigilance, he used to tell them that their care would soon have an end; that though the nights they had to watch were dark and stormy, yet they were but few; the period of resistance Was short—that of rest would be eternal.
The robbers, however, attacked the castle in various ways. They tried at every avenue; watched to take advantage of every careless moment; looked for an open door, or a neglected window. But though they often made the bolts shake and the windows rattle, they could never greatly hurt the house, much less get into it. Do you know the reason? It was, because the servants were never off their guard. They heard the noises plain enough, and used to be not a little frightened, for they were aware both of the strength and perseverance of their enemies. But what seemed rather odd to some of these servants, the gentleman used to tell them, that while they continued to be afraid, they would be safe; and it passed into a sort of proverb in that family, "Happy is he that feareth always." Some of the servants however, thought this a contradiction.
One day when the master was going from home, he called his servants all together, and spoke to them as follows: "I will not repeat to you the directions I have so often given you; they are all written down in the book of laws, of which every one of you has a copy. Remember, it is a very short time that you are to remain in this castle; you will soon remove to my more settled habitation, to a more durable house, not made with hands. As that house is never exposed to any attack, so it never stands in need of any repair; for that country is never infested by any sons of violence. Here, you are servants; there, you will be princes.
"But mark my words, and you will find the same truth in the book of my laws: Whether you will ever attain to that house, will depend on the manner in which you defend yourselves in this. A stout vigilance for a short time will secure your certain happiness for ever. But every thing depends on your present exertions. Don't complain and take advantage of my absence, and call me a hard master, and grumble that you are placed in the midst of a howling wilderness, without peace or security. Say not, that you are exposed to temptations without any power to resist them. You have some difficulties, it is true; but you have many helps and many comforts to make this house tolerable, even before you get to the other. Yours is not a hard service; and if it were, 'the time is short.' You have arms if you will use them, and doors if you will bar them, and strength if you will use it. I would defy all the attacks of the robbers without, if I could depend on the fidelity of the people within. If the thieves ever get in and destroy the house, it must be by the connivance of one of the family. For it is a standing law of this castle, that mere outward attack can never destroy it, if there be no traitor within. You will stand or fall as you observe this rule. If you are finally happy, it will be by my grace and favor; if you are ruined, it will be your own fault."