The spelling, grammar and punctuation in this ebook are variable and unusual. These oddities have been preserved to match the original 1807 document.
A few minor corrections have been made where typographical errors were suspected. Details of these changes can be found in a Transcriber's Note at the end of this text.
SUPPOSED TO BE
RELATED BY HIMSELF.
PRINTED BY AND FOR DARTON AND HARVEY GRACECHURCH-STREET.
1807. Price Sixpence.
To MISS ANNE S*****.
My dear Anne,
When I was upon a visit at your good mamma's, I promised to make you a present. Now a present for a girl of your age (if I only considered your age) is easy enough to find; but when I think on your good sense, I cannot reconcile myself to buy for you what I otherwise should. Not to keep you in suspense, I have at last found out a present, which I hope will be agreeable to you. Attend to the following adventure: I was walking, about a week ago, in the fields adjoining my house at Croydon. The evening was so delightful, I wandered insensibly much farther than I at first intended to go. The prospect was so charming, and the hay smelt so agreeably, that I never thought of returning, till I found myself rather tired, so sat down by one of the haycocks to rest myself. After having sufficiently rested, I made the best of my way towards home; when, (guess my surprise!) putting my hand in my pocket, I felt something soft, which seemed as if it moved, and pulling it out, I found it to be as pretty a Squirrel as you would wish to see. He ran round the table several times, and giving a good spring, seated himself on the dumb waiter. I immediately said to one of my servants: "I wonder how this squirrel got in my pocket," when my surprise was greatly increased by hearing it say, "If you will use me kindly, I will relate my history, and then you will learn what made me get into your pocket." My dear Anne immediately came in my mind, for I thought nothing would be more agreeable to her than, "The Adventures of a Squirrel, related by himself." "Come and sit nearer to me," said I, "that I may hear better all you are going to relate." After having seated himself once more, he began as follows.
I was born in Caen Wood, near Hampstead. Being taken out of the nest, (in which were my mother and my brother,) very young, I shall begin by telling you, I was carried to the house of him that stole me, which was at Hackney. Here I was tied to a long pole, till he could procure a cage, which was not till the end of three weeks; when (what he termed) a very nice one came home, with a chain to fasten round my neck, with a padlock, when I came out of the cage. The chain he fastened on me directly, and it remained on, till my house was properly aired. When he thought I might with safety enter my house, he took off the chain, and carried me, exulting in his prize, to his sister; for he had kept me quite secure, till he could present me to her politely. She thanked him for his kind present, and then proposed making a trial of my abilities in the exercising way. You, perhaps, may wonder what this exercise was. My cage was made to go round upon wires, so that whenever I moved it went round, and caused a tinkling with some bells that were fixed for that purpose. At this exercise I remained nearly half an hour, and whenever I attempted to stand still, they pricked me with a pin. Luckily the dinner bell rang, or they might have kept me at it half an hour more.
I will now give you some account of my master and his family. His name was Thomas Howard, upon the whole, I believe, a very good-natured boy. His sister's name was Sophia; and he had a father and mother. While my master and the family were at dinner, I made the best use of my time, and devoured every thing that I found in my cage. Having finished my repast, I was alarmed at hearing the voice of Thomas, (whom I wished at York,) bawling to his sister, "Shall I bring him down;" and still more alarmed by hearing her squeaking voice (which I wished at Dover) pronounce, "Yes." I sat in my cage trembling, every minute expecting to be taken down and exercised; but was relieved by hearing Tom fall almost from the top of the stairs to the bottom. In a minute the whole house was in an uproar. Mr. and Mrs. Howard came running out: she applied the hartshorn to his nose and temples; the servants were running some one way, some another. Sophia, too, was not silent. At last, when poor Thomas was lifted up, and his wounds examined, there was nothing found but a great bump on the back part of his head; which, when he found out, he gave a loud laugh, and ran up stairs as fast as he did before. Now I was more alarmed than ever, imagining that, as he had fell down in coming to fetch me, he might look upon me as the cause of his fall, and might therefore use me with greater violence. When he came up, he took me in my cage into the parlour. Here I had an opportunity of seeing the company: at the top sat Mrs. Howard; on her right hand Miss Sophia Howard; next to her sat Tom Wilkins, one of Tom Howard's schoolfellows; at the bottom sat Mr. Howard, next to him Miss Eliza Wilkins, and next to her Tom Howard. I was now made to exercise again, for the amusement of the company; who, in return, very generously gave me cherries, and any other nice thing I chose to eat. At last they ventured to let me out, and Tom Howard forgot to put my chain on. The love of liberty being too strong in me, I jumped off the table without farther ceremoney. All the company rose up, (which, by the bye, had they not done, they might have caught me much sooner than they did,) and ran after me. The room not being quite wide enough to admit so many as tried to pass by the table at once, Eliza Wilkins tumbled and tripped up Tom Howard, who was behind her, and could not stop himself. Sophia was very near down, but saved herself at the expence of young Wilkins, whose waistcoat she caught hold of, by which he fell on young Howard and Eliza. While they were in this confusion, I jumped upon a pier-glass which hung in the room, where I sat all the time. When they had all scrambled up they began to look for me again, but in a more cautious manner than they had done before. At last Wilkins spied me, and winked at young Howard, who, mounting the table which stood under the glass, made me once more his prisoner. I was then put into my cage and exercised, but presently taken out again, and my chain fastened on, to hinder my escape if I attempted it a second time. Mr. Howard told Tom that he was sure, by having me out so soon after my fright, I should certainly get loose; however, Tom began to play with me, till a lucky accident put an end to his joy, and gave me my liberty. A nice plate of apples was placed between young Howard and Wilkins. Now there happened to be one among them much finer than the rest; on this apple they had both fixed their eyes, and both tried which could finish eating what they had begun, that they might take the fine one, which had so charmed them only by looking at it. But Miss Wilkins, who had likewise seen it, and most likely longed for it as much as they did, asked her brother to hand her the plate. He seized, (or tried to seize, for Howard was as quick as he,) the favourite apple, and a skirmish ensued; in which glorious skirmish I was knocked off the table. The maid coming in at the very moment, I ran down stairs and out at the street door, where the milkman was standing; which was, I suppose, the reason the maid came up stairs. I continued running as fast as I could, (for my chain sadly hindered me,) till I came to some fields, where I climbed a tree and stayed in it all night.
When night came I found myself very hungry, so ventured to come down. My chain rattling at my heels, hindered me from running; but, however I got, on a good way, when I felt myself stopped, and found I was entangled in a gooseberry bush, in a very handsome garden. Fortunately, the owner used to walk in it every morning before breakfast; I saw her pass me once or twice, (for I waited very patiently till morning,) but one time, as she was walking by, I made an effort to get loose, which made her turn, and perceiving me, she called her servant to extricate me. She then carried me into the parlour, and put me into a cage; not such a one as I had inhabited before, it was a very nice one, without any bells. In the parlour was a young lady about fourteen years old; between whom and the lady I heard the following dialogue.
Niece. Dear, aunt! what have you got another squirrel? What a pretty one it is! where did you get it?
Aunt. I found it in the garden, entangled in a bush. If I had not been walking in the garden, very likely he might have died. I should have been very sorry to have found him dead.
Niece. How fortunate this is: but I cannot help pitying poor Tom—what a pretty fellow he was, and how sad a death it was to be devoured by the cat. I think he was the prettiest squirrel I ever saw.
Aunt. Well, now really, I think this much prettier. Poor fellow! how he trembles.
Niece. What a pretty chain. I dare say some young lady has lost him, by his having such a nice chain.
Aunt. Well, then all we have to do, is to feed him well, and, if we find the owner, return him.
Niece. I hope we may never find out who it belongs to.
Aunt. You should not say so, my dear. Now suppose, Nancy, you had a squirrel and it ran away from you, how should you like never to see it again? and should not you think it wrong, if any body had found it, and knew who it belonged to, and would not return it? To be sure you would.
Niece. True, madam, but I did not think of that. But Aunt, very likely he is hungry: shall I get him something to eat?
Aunt. Do, my love.—Nancy then ran, but presently returned with a nice mess of bread and milk, which I eat very heartily. She then put some clean hay, and a handful of nuts into my cage. A knock at the door called off the attention of Nancy, and presently entered two young ladies and a young gentleman. One of the young ladies was Miss Fanny Hudson; the other was Miss Kitty Bell; and the young gentleman, Master Henry Hudson, brother to Fanny. As soon as they entered the room, they paid the usual compliments to Mrs. Greville, (which was the name of the good lady who found me,) but had their eye upon me all the time. The following discourse I can pretty well remember, as it began concerning me; and we usually listen with greater attention when the conversation is concerning ourselves.
Fanny. What a pretty squirrel you have got, Miss Greville: what is become of the other?
Nancy. Oh dear, Fanny! if I have not told you, you have a dreadful piece of news to hear. Oh dear! how my heart did jump up and down for two hours after it. The cat had no dinner on Thursday. I was playing with my squirrel, when the maid entered the room, and did not see the cat till my poor Tom was in her mouth; and what was almost as bad, I flung my work-bag at her in a rage, it caught in the lock of the door, and tore this large hole in it. I was so vexed.
Kitty. Enough to make you vexed, indeed. But you seem to have got a squirrel just as pretty as Tom was.
Nancy. And we got it in the oddest manner. My aunt was walking in the garden, and found it, with its chain on, entangled in the bushes.
Henry. Exactly the way I found my dog. He was in the garden with a great stick tied to his tail, all over mud and dirt; but I cleaned him, and now I would not part with him for a guinea.
Kitty. Suppose, Nancy, we let him out: I think he seems very tame.
Nancy. I really do not think he is very tame; we have not had him a day yet.
Fanny. Well! but if he was to be let out, tame or not tame, what do you think he would do?
Henry. Why jump off, and run away, to be sure. Are you such a stupid creature, not to know that?
Here the conversation was interrupted by a squeak from the further corner of the room. The case was this: Kitty, like an obstinate girl, had come to my cage, and, while Nancy was looking another way, opened my door; upon which I walked out very composedly, and should have staid on the table, had she not screamed in such a manner as quite startled me. I jumped off, and ran under her chair. The whole company started up, and ran toward Kitty, who began to cry, conscious of its being her fault; but presently Nancy desired her not to cry, as there was no harm done; for I had run into the dear girl's hand, the moment she stooped to try to catch me. The young folks now departed. When I was put into my cage again, (after having received two kisses from Nancy, for being so tame,) she brought me some food, and let me take a little rest after my fright. In short, I lived a fortnight in the happiest manner I could have wished. But, alas! one day, as Nancy was playing with me, (without my chain,) the murderer of my predecessor entered. I was so shocked, that in two jumps I was out of the window, which two jumps I shall regret as long as I live; for I never was happier than at the good Mrs. Grevilles. I ran, as fast as I possibly could, close by the wall, till I came to some fields, where I climbed up a tree, and stayed in it till night; when a company of thieves coming to divide their spoils, laid a cloth and went to supper, which, when they had finished, they went to sleep on their backs, all in a row. I then ventured to come down, and see what I could find to eat; which was nothing but a piece of bread, which I carried into the tree, and eat very heartily.
When I had finished it, I amused myself with chucking nuts, (of which there was plenty in the tree, though I did not notice them before,) into the men's mouths, as they lay asleep. The nuts rattling against their teeth awakened them: but I continued these pranks too long; for day beginning to appear, they had an opportunity of seeing who it was that thus tormented them. They vowed revenge, which I did not mind, not being aware of traps; but, however, the next morning, I found myself caught so fast, I could not get loose. One of the men came and took me, and after giving me two or three good blows, carried me to his little boy. The boy luckily loved money better than squirrels, so went and sold me at a shop where they buy and sell all sorts of birds and animals. Here I led a quiet but stupid life, shut up in a cage, till somebody chose to buy me. However, in about a week's time after I had been there, a lady and her daughter went by the shop, and seeing me, the little girl begged her mamma would ask the price of me, which she did; and the man surprised me greatly, by asking four shillings for me, as he only gave the boy sixpence, who sold me to him. The lady said that was rather too much, and that she would give him three shillings. Upon hearing this, as the man made no answer, the little girl said, "Well then, mamma, if you will give three shillings, I will give the other; so you will send it home to my mamma's house, (giving him her direction,) and there is your money." You may be sure she left me no less happy than she seemed herself; for the thoughts of getting once more into such hands as Mrs. Grevilles, made me forget all former troubles. In about an hour I was sent home, where, as soon as my former master was out of the house, I had the pleasure of hearing the lady lay down the following conditions.
1st. That if any thing whatever should make her forget to give me, twice a day, my victuals, I was to be sent away.
2nd. She was never to let me out, except Mrs. Dixon (her mamma) was in the room, and gave her permission.
3rd. She was never to trust me with any body, till I had been in the house three weeks; at which time the second condition would be void.
To these conditions Sally cheerfully subscribed, and ran directly to get me some food. I will give you some little account of her, which, perhaps, may banish that wonder you otherwise might have expressed at some few things you are going to hear. She was in general very willing to learn, and sometimes to do as she was bid; but still she was very subject to be giddy, (not to give it a harsher name,) which often brought her into disgrace. She had a brother about ten years old, who was so fond of mischief, he often got a whipping. He went to school at Southampton. My young mistress was no sooner well settled with me, than she wrote him a letter, to acquaint him of it. I think I may as well give it you, word for word, as I became acquainted with it as it lay by my cage.
"My dear George,
"I have news to tell you, both good and bad; and I do not know which to tell you first. But the bad news I think will do better first, as, if that overcomes you, I may recover you by telling you the good news. Your pretty rabbit is dead: I went to give him his food yesterday morning, and found him dead. You don't know how sorry I was, but it cannot be helped now. Now for the good news: Mamma has bought me the prettiest squirrel, his name is Scug; you will be quite delighted with him. Mamma desires me to tell you, she hopes to see you next Wednesday. Having nothing more to say, I must now conclude this, from
"Your affectionate sister,
I lived very happily this whole week, when Master George came home, who, I suppose, thinking his sister had killed his rabbit, he thought he would kill her squirrel, as will presently be made known. He presented her with a chain of paper, which he said he had made at school on purpose for her squirrel. She put it on me directly, and presently Mrs. Dixon going out of the room, gave him an opportunity of executing his wicked design. He ran to the fire and lighted a piece of paper, which he held near my chain, with a view (as he said) to find out a little hole, where the padlock should go in. At last, while his sister was not looking, he set fire to it, and alas! being filled with gunpowder, (which his sister never had the least idea of,) it blew up with a violent explosion, and singed me sadly. Sally burst into tears, and catching up the inkhorn, which stood on the table, discharged its contents in his face. The combined reports of the gunpowder, Sally screaming, and George blubbering, soon brought Mrs. Dixon, who, when she came into the room, stared with astonishment, as well she might, at the confusion every thing was in. I all this time was in a corner of the room, where the sudden explosion had made me jump, not daring to move, terrified with the thoughts of a second shock; Sally continued crying; and George was doing, nobody could tell what, for his face was so black, you could not tell whether he was laughing or crying. The first thing Mrs. Dixon did, was to take me up and put me in my cage; she then called a servant, and told him to take me to Miss Cummins, with Sally's love, and beg her to accept me. Sally then fell on her knees and begged I might not be sent away, saying it was all George's fault, which George confessed it was, and that he only did it for a piece of fun! "Fun," cried Mrs. Dixon with astonishment, "and did you really think it fun! to burn and frighten a poor little animal. I wonder at you, indeed, George." She then left them, hoping George would mind what she said. I was now more caressed by little Sally than ever, who always took care to give me plenty of food, and when she had any cake or any other nice thing, she always let me partake of it. So that I lived very happily all the rest of the time I was at her house, and most probably should have lived as long again as I did, had it not been for her brother. He was to go to school, in about three days time, so was determined to have one more good piece of fun (as he called it) before he went. He procured a squirt, and filled it full of ink; he then bored a hole in the wainscot of the room where he was, quite through into the room where I was. All things being prepared, he waited till his sister came to let me out, which, as soon as she had done, he let off the whole in my face; at least attempted to do it, for I believe Sally and I were pretty equal sharers. A violent scream, more from surprise than hurt, soon brought Mrs. Dixon, who, upon coming in and seeing Sally and myself all over ink, and nobody else in the room, could not conceive what had made us so; till, supposing it was one of George's tricks, she ordered him to be called. George came in trembling, but his mamma would not suffer him to speak, and as his fare clearly showed his guilt, she ordered his things to be packed up, and him to be sent to school the next day. George then cried sadly, but his mamma said she had had so many proofs of his disposition, that she would trust him no longer. She then went out of the room, which George perceiving, snatched me out of my cage, and most probably would have killed me, had I not, by a very great effort, bit his thumb in such a manner, that he let me go, and roared enough to frighten any body. His sister and he then went to fighting, and I jumped out of the window; for the fright I was in made me not know what I did, or I should not have left such a kind mistress, especially as my tormentor was going away; but it was now too late to return.
After running a great way, I heard a violent noise, which alarmed me very much. I could not think what it was, but approaching nearer and nearer, it proved to be a company of gipsies, making merry as they were travelling. I took great care to avoid them, as I knew, if I had once got into their hands, I should not have got away very easily; so I climbed a tree and sat very quiet. I came down as soon as they were gone, and ran till I came to the city of London, which was not above half a mile from where I lived; for Mrs. Dixon's house was at Islington, at least very near it. Here I had no very great chance of hiding myself, so resolved to run up one of the houses, and get in at the first window I found open, and trust to the temper of some little boy or girl, rather than starve. The house I chanced to ascend belonged to Alderman Bumble. I happened to enter the window of Miss Henrietta Bumble's chamber; so I crept into her cap, which was lying in a chair, and lay till she wanted to put it on. I chanced to lay in such a manner, that she distinguished me as she lay in bed; and bouncing out, she took me up and ran down stairs undressed. The alderman and his lady were waiting breakfast for her. As soon as she entered, the alderman started up and said, "Bless me, Henny, what can you want here in such a figure;" "O Papa," said she, "here is the prettiest squirrel (but I should have told you I had found means to wash off the ink I had received in my last abode,) and where do you think I found him—lying in my cap, as snug as it was possible." "Well, my love," said the alderman, "run up and dress yourself, and then come and tell us about your squirrel." Henny then ran up stairs, tied me to the bed-post, and began to dress. When she had done, she untied me, and carried me down stairs. "Now," said the alderman, "you look something more like a human creature: let us hear your story." "Well then," said Henrietta, "this is the case: I was just going to get up, when I saw this pretty squirrel in my cap; and how it came there, I am sure I cannot tell. He never offered to stir, but lay very quiet till I took him out. Do let me have a cage for him." "Well, my dear," replied her mamma, "you shall have a cage for him, and a very nice one too." "Look'ye," said the alderman, "she shall not have a cage: it would be throwing money away." "I say she shall have a cage," said the lady, "as sure as my name is Sukey Bumble, while I have a crown in my pocket." "Well," said the alderman, "I see I must yield: so I am to get you money to spend in cages. Henny, my love, (continued he,) let me look at it." Henny, however, kept it in her hand, in which she was seconded by her mother, who said, "That's right, my girl, do not part with it." Henrietta was standing so near the alderman, he thought, with a little effort he might snatch it from her; but being very bad with the gout, he overbalanced himself, and down he came. Mrs. Bumble with great difficulty raised him, which, as soon as she had done, he hobbled up to Henrietta, took me from her by force, and barbarously cut off near half an inch of my tail with a pair scissars. Henrietta burst into tears, Mrs. Bumble began scolding him, when a servant came in, whom she desired to go to Crooked-lane, and procure one of the very best cages that could be got. The Alderman stormed; his lady raved; and Henrietta cried. Mrs. Bumble said she would be minded, and giving the man a guinea, told him, if it came to more, to pay it. "What," continued she, "would you have an alderman's lady send for a sixpenny wicker cage, to keep a squirrel in. No, by no means in the world; and you ought to be ashamed of yourself to have maimed a poor defenceless creature, only because you fell out of the chair." As there were a great many questions and answers, I think it would be best to give them to you in the manner they were delivered by the parties.
Alderman. Why now, was not the squirrel the cause of my fall. Did I not, in attempting to get the squirrel, fall off my chair? and therefore, was not the squirrel the cause of my fall.
Lady. Suppose it was: but what business had you to try to get the squirrel, and then to revenge yourself in such a shameful manner. I wish to my heart he had bit you.
Alderman. I am much obliged to you, however, for the wish, my dear; but of the two, I would rather he had let it alone.
Henrietta. I am sure it would have served you right.
Alderman. Come here Henrietta, (pinching her ears) so you think it would have served me right, do you? I like every body to be served right, and I think I am now serving you right.
Alderman. Pray, Miss, mind what you say another time, or you will get into disgrace, depend upon it.
The servant coming in at this instant, put a stop to what Mrs. Bumble was going to say. She had opened her mouth in the greatest rage, but the servant giving her a shilling, as change out of the guinea, and giving Henrietta the cage, she was forced to shut it. I had now the sad fortune to be put into a cage, exactly resembling that in which I lived at Mrs. Howard's. I had no sooner entered my new habitation, than I was set to work, and kept at it almost an hour; at which time the alderman pulled Henrietta away by force. A coach stopping at the door, hindered any dispute that might have arisen from the treatment of the alderman; for out jumped four young ladies, and two young gentlemen, who had been invited to spend the evening. Their names were, John and Emily Shepherd, James and Caroline Churchill, Eliza Careful, and Fanny Fairchild. The usual compliments being over, the following conversation ensued.
Emily. Bless me, Henrietta, where did you get that pretty squirrel.
Henrietta. Ay, where now do you think I got that pretty squirrel? Why, Emily, if I was to tell you to guess a hundred times, you would never find it out. I found it in my cap yesterday morning, as I was going to dress.
Emily. No, surely!
James and John. In your cap?
Henrietta. Yes, I did, I assure you. I was going to put it on, but I saw what was in it, and mamma was so kind as to buy me that nice cage. You cannot think how prettily he goes round. You shall see him presently.
Fanny. Oh dear, Henrietta, I have a sad tale to tell you. You know the pretty canary bird the baker gave me; well, what do you think William did? he cut off half its tail, and part of its wings.
Henrietta. Why, that was nothing to what my papa did. He is not in the room, so I can safely tell you; he cut off half my squirrel's tail with his scissars, as coolly as if he had been peeling an orange.
All the party. How cruel!
Henrietta. And all because he fell down, in endeavouring to get it.
Emily. And so he revenged himself on the Squirrel, that was not right.
Fanny. Right! indeed I think not; he deserved to have had his great toe cut off, and then he might have been better able to judge, by the pain he felt, how the squirrel liked the cutting off his tail. I think I never heard any thing so barbarous.
James. I say, Jack, let us have some fun with this lop-tail squirrel: while they are talking, they will not see us.
John. Ay, so we will.
They then proceeded to action. The young ladies were so busy, they did not see these two mischievous boys, till they had set me on Eliza's head; who giving a violent scream, alarmed the whole company. Emily, in getting up in a hurry, overturned Fanny, who was not sitting quite steadily in her chair; she gave her a blow, which Emily returned, and confusion was the word for near an hour; when peace was restored by the entrance of the alderman and his lady, who, after having in vain tried to learn the cause of the bustle, proposed a game at cards. James and Caroline desired to set out, so, while the rest of the company were at cards, they amused themselves by tormenting me. At last tired by constant exercise, and irritated by James, who pricked me with his toothpick whenever I attempted to rest, I waited for a good opportunity, and as he laid his finger close to my cage, (while he was talking to some of the card party) I gave him a bite he has remembered ever since, I dare say. It so exasperated him, that he pricked me now more than ever; and Caroline joined him in persecuting me. I had once or twice attempted to bite her, which she was aware of; but James dropping his toothpick into my cage, made me watch well, as I knew one of them would try to take it out. At last Caroline ventured, and just as she put her finger in, somebody spoke to her, and she forgot to take it out, till the pain she felt from one of my bites made her withdraw it rather hastily. The scream she gave so startled the alderman, that he overset the card table upon his lady; the girls jumped up, the boys laughed, I went round and caused a violent ringing: so that they, who before were so desirous that I should do it, were now more desirous I should stand still. The alderman often attempted to speak, but my ringing entirely drowned his voice; till at length enraged, he came to my cage, and having pulled me out, and flung me into a corner of the room, where I staid very quietly, he began to pull off the bells, which hung over the cage; which, when he had done, he tossed them, one by one, to the company, telling them, if they were fond of the noise they might make it themselves, and then the only difference would be, "it would be made by monkeys instead of squirrels." The alderman then went out of the room, Henrietta put me into my cage, and peace was once more restored. And now all their proceedings were stopped, by the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Churchill, who were come to take their young folks home, and offer a place in the coach to the rest of the party. Away they went, to my great joy. Henrietta now bewailed the loss of her bells in such violent terms, that the alderman told her, if she did not cease, he would send the squirrel to Miss Lee. Upon which Mrs. Bumble started up in a rage, "It shall not be done:" said she, "it was a scandalous thing of you to break the bells, but I shall take care to send for new ones." "Not while the servants are mine," said the alderman. His lady made no reply, but rang the bell, a servant appeared. "John," said she, "take this where you bought it, and get new bells put on." "John," said the alderman, "if you do, you may as well take your wages in your hand. But you will receive them when you come back, so it is the same thing." John then went, and contrived to get it done by somebody else, so that he might oblige both master and mistress. The alderman having found out it had been done, got up one morning very early, packed me up in my cage, and sent me by the coach into Lincolnshire, to a Miss Huntley, one of his relations. Here I lived a short, but happy life; I was constantly fed, very seldom exercised contrary to my inclinations, and, in short, lived so happily, I thought it exceeded, if possible, the kind treatment I met with at the good Mrs. Greville's.
But soon was my happiness put an end to. Very near my mistress, lived a young gentleman, whose name was Eaton, who, though nearly fourteen years of age, and a very clever youth, delighted in mischief; and though he did not mean it, he sometimes did things very unworthy a gentleman.
This young fellow no sooner found Miss Huntley kept a squirrel, than he resolved to be possessed of me. I afterwards found his reason for so doing, was only "because he thought, if he took it to school with him, it might cause some fine sport." The next day was fixed for his departure; and, as he was very intimate with Miss Huntley, he said he would came and drink tea with her once more before he went to school. He came, admired me greatly, and, after tea, said he would play with me. The window happened to be up, so, while they were talking, and not looking at him, he slily put me into his pocket, buttoned it, and giving a great shriek, said I had jumped out of the window. Poor Isabella Huntley was very much vexed. He said there was no hopes of getting it, as it travelled at such a rate, he supposed it would be ten or twelve miles off by the next day. He told truth, for, as he was going the next day, he would be much farther than twelve miles; and so should I also, as I went in his pocket. He soon after took his leave, leaving Isabella very sorrowful, little thinking where her squirrel was. He went to school very early the next day, and I travelled all the way in his pocket. Luckily I found a few cherries and a cake, or most probably I should not have lived to my journey's end. We arrived at the Rev. Mr. Clarkson's academy, I cannot tell at what time; let it suffice, that when he got there, he took me out, and tied a piece of string round my neck, while he showed me to his schoolfellows! He then asked, if any body had a cage to sell. They none of them had one, except one boy, who came and said he would sell his, but that it would put him to a great inconvenience, as he had a bird in it at present, and could not sell it under three shillings; for he knew Eaton would buy it, let it cost what it would. He therefore tried to make the most of it. Eaton paid him the money, and put me in it. Here I had to perform my tricks before all the boys, four or five times a day, and was liable to all the insults they chose to bestow upon me. Indeed, a boy did once hit me a terrible blow with an apple. In about a week, the money Eaton had brought with him to school, was all gone; he then had recourse to selling me. He offered me in my cage for two shillings. Nobody would give it. At last a boy came to him and offered tenpence for me. Eaton, in a rage, hit him a box on the ear, and sent the boy away crying. At last, finding nobody would give more, he went to the boy he had struck, whose name was Bentley, asked his pardon, and said he should have me for tenpence. Bentley now refused, saying, that as he had been struck, he would give no more than sixpence. At this time, the man who used to come with cakes and apples for the boys to buy, came into the play-ground. Eaton took up a tart, and holding his hand out to Bentley, said: "Come, you may as well give me tenpence;" but Bentley held out sixpence, and said he would give no more. Eaton then tried to knock it out of his hand, but instead of his succeeding, the tart fell and was broke to pieces. Eaton looked red. "Come," said Bentley, "though you refused so often, perhaps you may be inclined to take sixpence now." Eaton was not long determining, but snatched the sixpence and gave me into Bentley's hands. He carried me directly into his chamber, and having given me some food, put me on his window seat. I lived very comfortably with him for a few days; till one day a boy named Smart, who, I afterwards learnt, was hired by Eaton, opened the window and put me out. I ran along the tiles, trembling, a great way, before I saw any window open where I might shelter myself. At last a boy spied me, and getting up to me with a ladder, I surrendered immediately. The boy, thinking he could sell me at the school better than at any other place, went there; and Bentley seeing me, before any of the boys said what they would give, offered the boy eighteenpence for me, which he accepted, and left me once more in good hands. He now took more care of me than ever, intending to take me home with him at the holidays; but an accident which happened soon after, made his good intention totally useless. One of his schoolfellows, named Hawkins, who slept in his room, had, it seems, long wished for me. He had tried various stratagems, none of which had turned out to his advantage: at last he thought of the following. He put his bottle and wash-hand bason in the way of my cage, so that when Bentley came to take me out, he threw them down, and broke them into a thousand pieces. Hawkins hearing the noise came up, and the following dialogue I distinctly heard, as I sat on Bentley's arm.
Hawkins. So, Bentley, you have broke my bason. How could you be so careless.
Bentley. It was rather careless, I must own; but who would have thought of a bottle and bason being so near a squirrel-cage, as to be broken when I went to take out my squirrel.
Hawkins. Nobody could have thought it; but you should look before you do things in such a hurry. I suppose you intend to pay me for it.
Bentley. That I would very willingly do, if I had money. If you will trust me, I will give you my week's pay till the whole debt is paid.
Hawkins. And so I am to stay a month or more, while you pay me at your leisure. It was all owing to your want of attention, and I am to suffer for it.
Bentley. As to being owing to my want of attention, I don't see it in the least. It certainly was not a proper place for a bottle and bason. I think it must have been put there on purpose.
Hawkins. Pray, Sir, am I to be accountable to you for the place where I choose to put my bottle and bason. Suppose I put it there on purpose, have not I a right?
Bentley. A most undoubted one. But then, if it is broken, you have no right to scold about it, as it was through your own means it became so.
Hawkins. Well, I don't care, I will be paid for it. Come, Bentley, give me your squirrel, and I'll think no more about it.
Bentley. A likely matter.
Hawkins. Well, then, I am resolved you shall pay me.
Bentley. Very well, I will pay you in the manner I mentioned.
Hawkins. Don't you believe it: if you can't pay me now, I will take the Squirrel.
He then snatched me from him, and carried me down stairs, where he met a boy named Lively, to whom he showed me; and both walking up to a bench that was placed under the study window, where Mr. Clarkson generally was, Hawkins began the conversation which will be related in the next chapter.
Hawkins. I told you I should get it. Poor Bentley!
Lively. Why how could you get it?
Hawkins. I put my bottle and bason close to the cage, so that when he went to take out his squirrel, down they came, and broke to pieces. I went up and demanded payment, which he not being able to give me, I took his squirrel, which he held on his hand all the time we talked.
Lively. Upon my word, I think you did wrong.
Hawkins. What! are you one of those fools who are afraid of doing wrong. However, you see I have got something by doing wrong.——
"And you shall get something more by doing wrong," cried a voice. Hawkins turned round, and saw his master, who had been standing at the window ever since they began to talk. "Give me that squirrel," continued Mr. Clarkson. Hawkins held me out to him with great reluctance. Mr. Clarkson then carried me into the school-room, and calling for Bentley, gave me to him, telling him, loud enough for Hawkins to hear him, that Hawkins would get much more by doing wrong, than he would by doing right, for he should get a very hearty flogging that afternoon. He likewise commended Lively for not agreeing with Hawkins. Bentley then carried me to his room again, packed me up, (in my cage,) and sent me by the stage to his sister, who lived at Stamford in Lincolnshire, and was very intimate with Miss Huntley. My reception was a very good one. Louisa Bentley was very fond of me, and always took care I should have plenty of food. She had invited a party of young ladies to see her that very afternoon: their names were, Miss Wilson, Miss Clark, Miss Smith, Miss Newman, and Miss Huntley.
When these young ladies were all seated, their conversation was as follows.
Miss Bentley. O, Miss Huntley, I had such a present made me to-day. My good brother always sends me some present from school, between the holidays; but this last, is the best he ever sent me. Only look, what a pretty squirrel! What makes you sigh, Miss Huntley?
Miss Huntley. Your squirrel puts me in mind of one I had lately. Young Eaton came to drink tea with us before he went to school, when he let the squirrel out, and it jumped out of the window.
Miss Clark. Were you not very angry?
Miss Newman. I am sure I should have been very angry indeed; and, I think, not without a cause.
Miss Smith. He is always doing mischief, I think. It was but on Friday, when he came to see us, that he killed my canary bird, by putting a shot in the place where the seeds were, which stuck in its throat, and it died in a few minutes.
Miss Clark. And what did he say, when he saw he had killed it?
Miss Smith. He only laughed, and said he did not know it could not eat shot.
Miss Wilson. Perhaps he took it for an ostrich, and thought it could eat lead and iron. I do not wonder at it; for, in my opinion, he is foolish enough to think any thing.
Miss Huntley. I have been looking at your squirrel, Miss Bentley, for some time; will you be kind enough to tell me where you got it? O, I remember, you said your brother sent it you, so it cannot be the same; but every mark on it is exactly like mine.
Miss Bentley. Suppose I write to him, and ask him where he got it. I assure you, if it is yours, you shall have it. I dare say my brother got it fairly.
Miss Huntley. My dear Louisa, I would not take it from you on any account: I only wish to know that it has not died a violent death.
Miss Newman. Poor creature! I hope it has not. I would much rather see any favourite bird or squirrel die, than that they should escape.
Miss Clark. My brother never sends me such presents. Yes, once, indeed, to do him justice, he sent me a present you would not guess, if you were to try from morning till night. He goes to school about two miles off, and the week before last, he sent me, in the baker's cart, an ugly monkey: such a great creature. He began clambering over the chairs and tables; so I sent it back, with a letter, in which I told him, monkeys were not presents for young ladies, and that he could better take care of his brother than I could. Don't you think I was pretty severe upon him, Miss Newman?
Miss Newman. Yes, indeed, I think you was. But, my dear girl, you forget that you was just as severe upon yourself; for as you are brother and sister, the monkey cannot be brother to one of you, without being brother to the other.
Miss Clark. Miss Newman, I assure you I don't understand such usage: I did not come here to be called names. I think my question was not uncivil.
Miss Newman. And I think I answered you as civilly as I could, Miss Smith, do you think I could have given a more civil answer?
Miss Smith. No, indeed, I do not.
Miss Clark. Well, ladies, I see you are all against me, so I had better take my leave. Here Mrs. Bentley entering, put a stop to Miss Clark's resolution, by proposing a game at forfeits, for she readily consented to be of the party. I took the opportunity to fall asleep, and when I awoke, the following letter was lying by my cage.
My dear Brother,
I am so much obliged to you for your present, that I cannot express my thanks: I believe I shall best be able to do that when I see you. I had some young ladies to see me yesterday, among them was Miss Huntley, who has begged me to write to satisfy her curiosity. She would, therefore, take it as a favour, if you would tell me where you got it; as it is very like one she had, which made its escape. O, my dear brother, I wish you was at home. I have so many things to say to you, I don't know how to say them in letter; for, let people say what they will, it is easier to talk than to write a letter; so must conclude this, from
Your affectionate sister,
I shall pass over a few days, which I spent very comfortably, and give you her brother's answer; for she took me out of my cage so often, (seeing I was tame,) that I had frequent opportunities of seeing and reading every thing I chose. It was as follows.
"I am very glad my last present met with your approbation. I endeavoured to find who brought it into the school, as soon as I had read your letter. It appears to be young Eaton: I believe you know him. I bought it of him, and after several escapes from losing it, I resolved to send it you, which succeeded just as I could have wished. Present my duty to my papa and mamma, and I remain, dear sister,
As soon as Louisa had received this letter, she invited Miss Huntley; and I could clearly hear the following dialogue.
Miss Bentley. Well! I wrote to my brother, to enquire about the squirrel, and here is his answer: read it.
Miss Huntley. (having read it.) My dear Louisa I am shocked. I did not think William Eaton could have been guilty of an action so mean. You know I told you, when I was here last, he opened the cage and said the squirrel had jumped out of the window. Now he went to school the next day, therefore he must have taken it. I always thought he loved a little mischief, but had not an idea he could do such a thing as this.
Miss Bentley. And very likely all this was for the gain of a couple of shillings, or some such trifle. But, however, the squirrel is your's, Miss Huntley, so I beg you will accept of it.
Miss Huntley. I think, Miss Bentley, I had better not take it, as it will cause questions which may discover young Eaton's guilt, and I should not wish to take away his character. I think the best way will be to write him a letter; and tell him how sorry I am at finding how I lost my squirrel, but that, as I know who has it, I shall think no more of it.
Miss Bentley. My dear Miss Huntley, you will act nobly; and much kinder, I am sure, than he deserves. Suppose you write it now, here is every thing necessary.
Miss Huntley then wrote the letter, and when she had finished, she read it aloud.
"When you favoured us with your company, the night before you went to school, had any body told me you had the least thought of doing what I have lately found you did, I should have thought it an impossibility. Believe me, the loss of the squirrel does not grieve me half so much as the manner in which I have lately heard I lost it. Miss Bentley, sister to one of your schoolfellows, has it, and would freely give it me; and as that is all I wished to know, (as I was afraid it might meet a violent death,) I shall very willingly let it remain with her; for if I should take it, it might breed questions which would not be quite agreeable. And now let me conclude this letter with assuring you, that, as I trust you have sense enough to be sorry for what you have done, I shall think no more of it, than if it never had happened.
This letter was then sent, and Miss Huntley look her leave.
I am now coming to that part of my life which I look back upon with horror. Nothing particular happened till the time arrived when young gentlemen leave school, to go and be merry by the fireside for six weeks. William Eaton had not lost any of his malice; and therefore, I suppose, thought me as proper an object to vent it on as he could find. He thought, by killing me, (as I heard him say,) to end all farther trouble, and put a stop to all their enquiries, by bringing me home dead. For he had formed such a design, I shudder when I think of it. I suppose he had bribed the maid before, for early one morning he was at the door, which the maid seeing, she took me out of my cage, and gave me to him, after she had cut off a bit of my tail, to make it appear the cat had eat me. He took me home, and called his dog into the garden, where he let me go, and sent the dog after me. The dog presently caught me, and lucky it was, he did not kill me the first gripe; for his master (seeing he caught me so soon, as he wanted to have had some fun, as he termed it) threw a stone at him, which hit him on the head, and laid him flat on the ground. I seized the opportunity, and ran up the garden wall, from whence I jumped, frightened almost out my wits. I continued running till I came to a very large orchard. I mounted a cherry tree, and eat one or two cherries, which a little recovered me. After I had been in the tree a little time, two men entered the orchard with sacks, which they filled with what fruit came first to hand, and were going away. The owner of the orchard happened to be riding by the place, and called to them to know their business. At that instant the men happened to lift up their eyes, and seeing me, answered, they came to catch me, and asked if they might not climb the tree for that purpose.
Owner. Yes, after you have emptied your sacks. So empty them this minute.
The men then turned every thing out of their sacks.
Owner. Well, have you caught the squirrel? Hey-day! were you going to catch the squirrel with two sacks full of fruit? Now, gentlemen, you will both be kind enough to march out of this orchard: and if ever you are caught in here again you shall certainly go to gaol.
The men then went away, which recovered me from my second fright; for I expected, every minute, they would climb and take me. However, I was agreeably disappointed.
I then descended, and ran out of the orchard as fast as I could, till I found myself so hungry, I determined to trust myself once more to somebody that looked good-natured, if I could see any body I thought looked so. While I was thinking, a stage came by, so (at random) I gave a leap into the basket, where I found a few crumbs of bread. I remained very quiet till the stage suddenly broke down. I thought it high time to quit my seat, so jumped out, and crept into an old lady's pocket, who was lying amongst the rest on the road. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, and the coachman sent somebody for a post chaise, which soon arrived. We all crowded in, till it was full. My mistress happened to get an inside place, and we went off laughing at the disaster. At last we came to London, where I did not dare stir from the pocket of the lady, so kept my place with great composure. My mistress, for so I shall call her, was then put into another stage, and after a journey of about four miles, she stopped at a very handsome house. My mistress being in a great hurry to get out and compose herself, opened the coach door herself, but not having sufficient power, her foot slipped and she fell out. I was so alarmed at this, that I scrambled out of her pocket, and made the best of my way towards the house door, where I certainly should have entered, had I not heard the different mews of half a dozen cats. Those sounds were not very pleasing to me, so I ran off unperceived; for the confusion at the garden door was not yet at an end. I had not run far, before I met a man with a pair of very large boots in his hand. He unfortunately spied me, and taking me up, put me into one of them, and thrust me down into the foot. He had walked within a mile of the fields where you were when you first became possessed of me, when he set the boots down, and began fighting with a man he had been quarrelling with some part of the way, I jumped out of my place of confinement, and ran till I came to the place where you were sitting, and being very hungry, I ventured to creep into your pocket, and trust to your generosity. Here the pretty fellow ceased. "And you shall find," said I, "I will endeavour to deserve that trust, by making you as happy as I possibly can."
* * * * *
Now, my dear Anne, I presume it will be unnecessary for me to inform you, that the foregoing history is only an imaginary one of my own invention; but such as we may suppose a squirrel might relate, if he were endowed with reason and speech. Your good sense will suggest to you that the amiable characters herein depicted are meant as examples for imitation; and that the conduct of the vicious is to be disapproved of and avoided.
I remain your affectionate friend,
R. S. S.
Printed by Darton and Harvey, Gracechurch-street.
Illustrations within the main text of this ebook have been moved to their appropriate page numbers, as referenced in the original text.
Spelling and grammar variations (for example: your's, scissars, staid/stayed, bason, ceremoney, Mrs. Grevilles/Mrs. Greville's, had fell down, was broke to pieces, had eat me, came and drink tea) have been preserved to match the original 1807 text.
The following typographical corrections have been made in this ebook:
Page 6: Removed duplicate word 'he' (he took off the chain)
Page 22: Removed duplicate word 'and' (and singed me sadly)
Page 23: Added missing period (thing Mrs. Dixon did)
Page 26: Changed 'happenned' to 'happened' (happened to enter)
Page 28: Changed 'Bummble' to 'Bumble' (Mrs. Bumble)
Page 33: Changed 'beeen' to 'been' (had been peeling)
Page 33: Removed duplicate word 'the' (The young ladies)
Page 34: Added missing period (by tormenting me.)
Page 37: Added missing end quotes (new bells put on.")
Page 42: Added missing word 'I' (who, I afterwards learnt,)
Page 51: Removed duplicate word 'to' (is easier to talk)
Page 56: Changed 'runing' to 'running' (I continued running)