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 Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Frontispiece
 Title Page
 Autobiography
 Frontispiece
 Who shall be greatest?






Title: My juvenile days
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00001893/00001
 Material Information
Title: My juvenile days and other tales
Alternate Title: Who shall be greatest?
Which is wiser
People abroad
Physical Description: 176, 178, 184 p., 6 leaves of plates : ill. ; 16 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Howitt, Mary Botham, 1799-1888 ( Author, Primary )
Appleton, George Swett, 1821-1878 ( Publisher )
D. Appleton and Company ( Publisher )
Publisher: D. Appleton & Co.
G. S. Appleton
Place of Publication: New York
Philadelphia
Publication Date: 1850
 Subjects
Subject: Sisters -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Social values -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Bildungsromane -- 1850   ( rbgenr )
Pictoral cloth bindings (Binding) -- 1850   ( rbbin )
Family stories -- 1850   ( local )
Publishers' advertisements -- 1850   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1850
Genre: Bildungsromane   ( rbgenr )
Pictoral cloth bindings (Binding)   ( rbbin )
Family stories   ( local )
Publishers' advertisements   ( rbgenr )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: United States -- New York -- New York
 Notes
General Note: Title vignettes on plates preceding actual title pages.
General Note: Bound in brown cloth embossed in copper and blind.
Statement of Responsibility: by Mary Howitt.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00001893
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: ltqf - AAA1920
notis - ALH2227
oclc - 06570032
alephbibnum - 002231840

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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Page A-1
        Page A-2
    Frontispiece
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    Title Page
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    Autobiography
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Full Text















































The Baldwin Library
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JUVENILE DAYS


AND



OTHER TALES.





BY
MARY HOWITT.






NEW-YORK:
D. APPLETON & CO., 200 BR ,DWAY,
PHILADELPHIA:
GEORGE S. APPLETON, 164 CHESNUT-ST.
M.I)CCC.L.














AUTOBIOGRAPHY.



CHAPTER I.
OUR HOME.
IT has often been a subject of regret that so little
is known of the workings of a child's mind during
its earlier years. Little of this, however, can be
known, excepting in cases of great precocity in chil-
dren; and then the case is not an ordinary one, for
children do not reason at all, they only receive im-
pressions. They feel things keenly, kindness or un-
kindness, joy or sorrow-but they neither reason nor
reflect-the reason and the reflection come later, and
then we draw inferences, and understand the connec-
tion of one thing with another. We stand then, as
it were, at the proper distance to take in a general
view ; we stand like the traveller on the hill-top, and
look over the landscape which we have left behind us.
We see there, in a clear perspective, the house in
which we were born; the trees around it, or the
neighbours' houses; we see here sunshine, there
shade; there the hill of difficult ascent, which was





8 OUR HOME.
painful to our feet, and there the green and sunny
valleys where we wandered with the companions of
our joy, and gathered the gay flowers of every
season.
I stand now on this hill-top, and look back over a
scene which extends through the present century.
The scene widenson every hand, and has broader lights
and shades, and more important action as it nears the
present time, but with it in its breadth and extent
we have nothing to do. We look into ten years only,
and that time lies in a pleasant valley, which will tire
the foot of no youthful wanderer; nothing lies there
but. what is amusing and pleasant, children and
childish sports-and thither let us betake ourselves,
you, my young readers, and myself, and see what we
can find there.
I must, in the first place, introduce you to the
home where we lived. I say we, not in any editorial
capacity, or because it sounds better, but because,
when I write of myself as a child, I must write of
my sister also. My sister was a year older than
myself, but we were so constantly together, and were
so guided by a constant amity of will, that we were
something like one soul in two bodies. People ima-
gined that we were twins, perhaps, because we were
nearly the same height, or, perhaps, because we
were always together, and always dressed alike. My
sister was Anna, I myself, Mary.
Anna was somewhat slenderer than myself, with
an oval countenance, soft blue eyes, soft brown hair,
a remarkably rosy complexion, and an expression
of great sweetness in her whole countenance. She
was, in fact, the most amiable, the most feminine and





OUR HOME. V
affectionate creature I ever saw. I, for I remember
well what was said of me, if I do not remember my
own person, was broader set than my sister, with a
round face, large grey eyes, and a deal of healthful
colour on my cheeks, with a roguish, merry expres-
sion of countenance, which made people think that I
was very fond of mischief. I was not particularly so,
but that was the general opinion, and I heard it so often
said, that I set it down in my own mind for fact.
Our home was one of great comfort, though it was
old-fashioned, with low rooms and small windows. A
court separated it from the street, and its principal
sitting-rooms opened into a pleasant and rather large
garden, which sloped down behind it to a green, plea-
sant meadow, where ran a quick and clear brook.
Beyond this meadow, fields, which had formerly
belonged to our grandfather, stretched upwards for
half a mile into a pleasant region of pastoral farms
and cornfields, which, if pursued for a few miles, led
to the classical world of Bagot's Park and Needwood
Forest, and thus the landmarks of the horizon were,
here and there, a conspicuous group of trees, a large
barn, or farm-house. It was by no means a grand
view, but it was one of great quietness and rural
beauty. Our father was extremely fond of it, and
pointed out its peculiar features with great pride
to his visitors. I remember once his chagrin and
almost anger, when. on having particularised the
beauties of this familiar scene to a rich and worldly
and not over-polite visitor, she remarked arrogantly,
"You think it pleasant, no doubt-but, from my
drawing-room windows, I look over an extent of fifty
miles, right to the sea."






I was but a child : I understood the spirit of the
speech, however, as well as my father, and I was
angry, but neither he nor I thought at all the worse
of our homely little view.
Our parents saw but little company; they were
extremely attached to each other, and were very
domestic people. He was engaged very much in his
profession, as well as by some iron-works in Glouces-
tershire.
There was a front parlour in our house, which, in
the earlier days of our childhood, was occupied by
our grandfather, a stern, grave, and, according to his
notions, a very religious old gentleman. He read a
great deal, wrote a great deal, and was a great
collector of herbs, which he dried and ground into
snuff of various kinds, which he considered bene-
ficial for curing all sorts of complaints. He had a
small medical library, and prescribed to any one who
would be his patient; he gave advice gratis in two
ways, for he was one of those good people who think
it their duty to be continually dropping words in
season and out of season; hence he always was med-
dling with people's affairs, and, poor man, often
brought himself into no little trouble by so doing.
We were rather afraid of our grandfather, and
very carefully avoided making any noise at his end
of the house, for of all things he detested the noise of
children, and, besides this, poor old gentleman,
he had a natural irritability of temper, which,
having once or twice startled us by its unexpected
vehemence, left us ever after a little in fear.
Our house, like all old-fashioned houses, had
no regularity in its floors; we went down a step into


10


OUR HOME.





OUR HOME. 11
one room, and up a step into another. The rooms
were low and rather dark, and were papered with
dingy, old, large-patterned papers, which made them
look lower and less than they were. There were
plenty of rooms in the house, most of them well
carpeted and well furnished; but others there were
with blocked-up windows, for this was in the time of
the heavily-laid-on window tax, and people, for
economy's sake, managed with as little light as pos-
sible ; and these mysterious dark rooms had in them
nothing but lumber or a couple of chairs, turned
one upon another, and a bedstead without hang-
ings, which looked dismal and skeletonlike. These
rooms, from which cobwebs were always fetched if
anybody had cut themselves severely, and the blood
would not stanch, had always in them a certain
horror to my mind, and the established threat of
putting any naughty children into the lumber-room,
or the dark garret, never failed to produce a very
subduing, if not a very salutary, effect.
The back of the house stood raised above the
garden, into which a flight of steps led from an old-
fashioned porch, abundantly covered with pyracantha
and jasmine. Below the pleasant sitting-rooms on
this side of the house lay the lower offices and
cellars. The cellars were dark and dismal places, at
least so they seemed to us children, and in them were
found little yellowish lizards, called by Nanny, of
whom I shall hereafter have much to say, askars,"
and toads and frogs. We had been threatened with
confinement in these cellars if we ever should be very
naughty ; and in the earlier years of my childhood,
a story being told of a cruel father who had kept





1[Z OUR HOME.
his unhappy child for years in a cellar, this and the
threat together made the cellars awful places, into
which we only now and then ventured to peep under
the heavy wooden shutter, which excluded the light,
by raising it an inch or two, which was all that the
chain which secured it inside would admit of.
Spite of these terrors, however, and of our grand-
father, who lived on the other side of the house, we
contrived to have a deal of pleasure. There was a
row of fir-trees down one side of the garden, and
a shrubbery under it, where we could play, as in a
solitary world of our own, and where nobody could
see us from the house. In those distant years I
remember but very little bad weather, and the sum-
mers were as long as three summers now-a-days--
snow, to be sure, there was in winter, and very
beautiful it looked, like a white garment upon
the hilly fields, and hanging feathery upon every
twig of the garden trees; but I remember no wet,
miserable, chilly days, when it was comfortless both
within doors and without-oh no in the golden
years of a happy, active childhood, such days as
these come not.
In summer there were plenty of flowers in the
garden, and I never saw anywhere such tufts of
yellow and purple crocuses and white snowdrops as
we had; the lilacs seemed quite bowed down with
flowers, and so did the laburnums-but we had no
guilder-roses, or snow-balls, as they were then called.
We had not a single one in the garden, but when
they were in flower, we never failed to go to a
relation of ours in the town, who had a tree in her
guard that we might see how beautiful it was. I





OUR 1HOME. 1l
wonder that our mother, Nv ho enjoyed the garden so
much, never introduced into it this tree, which is so
easy to rear; but she never did-nor is there to this
day such a tree in the garden, and every spring we
children went to see and admire our Aunt Summer-
field's snow-ball tree, and to come home laden with
boughs of its pendant flowers.
Next door to us, on the right, lived Miss Wheldon
and her widowed sister, Mrs. Gilbert, who had one
son, a fine young man. The two families were neigh-
bourly, but not intimate; they spoke when they met,
but did not visit; but we had always heard our
parents speak with so much respect of their neigh-
bours, that we adopted the sentiment of the house,
and always regarded them as people worthy of con-
sideration. We watched them go in and out, and
saw them walking in their garden, which adjoined
ours, and said, There goes Miss Patty," or There
go Mrs. Gilbert and her son," in a tone anything but
indifferent. At length, one fine summer's afternoon,
came the sudden, strange news, that young Mr.
Gilbert was drowned-he had been bathing in the
river Dove, that lovely river! and there he had lost
his young life, and his poor mother was heart-
broken, and how could she help it ? All at once it
seemed as if we had known and loved our neighbours
all our days; our mother went in with offers of the
most friendly service-we children peeped into the
garden, where nobody was walking, and felt very
sorry. A day or two afterwards my sister Anna saw
poor Mrs. Gilbert walking up and down the garden,
with her handkerchief to her eyes; she watched
her go up and down with slow steps, and the





14 OUR HOME.
longer she watched the more vivid became her sym-
pathy. "What can I do for her ? thought she-
when suddenly an idea occurred. Her greatest
treasures were a set of little play-tea-things which
our mother had brought her the week before out of
the Staffordshire Potteries-she would give her these.
Accordingly she ran into the house, and fetched them
thence, and, with these jingling in her pinafore, she
crept through a thin place in the garden fence, which
she never had thought of doing before; she stood
before the poor lady, and, with tears in her eyes,
said, opening her pinafore, "Do not cry so, Mrs.
Gilbert, and I will give you these. I am so
sorry for you, and will give you all my doll's
tea-things! "
"Bless you!" said the heart-broken mother, and
took her in her arms, and kissed her. She did not
accept the tea-things, but she accepted the love that
made the offer. The child's pity, she told our
mother, did her good, and from that time we were
intimate neighbours. Anna's passion was flowers.
Mrs. Gilbert had the most beautiful tulips that ever
grew; the tulip-bed came down to the hole in the
hedge through which she had crept, and ever after,
when they were in bloom, good Mrs. Gilbert never
saw her in the garden without putting through the
hedge tulips and other flowers for her acceptance;
she was a kind neighbour, and used to give us
not only flowers, but gingerbread and seed-cake
also.
I remember well the day on which young Mr.
Gilbert was buried; it was a bright sunshiny day,
like that on which he was drowned, and it seemed to





OVR HOME. 18
me 6nly the more solemnly impressive-death and
summer-sunshine are incongruous to the heart of
childhood.
Such were our neighbours to the right; on the
left of us stood a handsome house, which belonged to,
and was inhabited by, a Mrs. Carpenter, the widow
of a considerable builder in the place. She was a
very proud and stately lady, and had, it was said,
great connections in London. Before she married Mr.
Carpenter she was the widow of an officer in the
East India service; she had been abroad, and had
much property. There was, according to our childish
notions, something quite grand about her house;
it was tall and handsome, with lofty windows, and a
large door, and a vast many offices about it, which,
however, were, in her days, rather old and tumble-
down. But the lady lived in the great house, and
we used to see her driving out in her heavy, lumber-
ing coach, or else walking with a very dignified air in
her large, handsome garden, which adjoined ours,
with a huge black calash on her head, and clogs
on her feet. She was very particular in many ways;
her dining-room lay to the street, and the children
of Clowes, the auctioneer, used now and then to
peep in to see the great lady at dinner. One day
she had a party, and Grace Clowes, then about six
years old, a thin, brown girl, with brown eyes and
long. lanky hair, peeped in to see how all was going
on. Mrs. Carpenter, observing this, ordered a servant,
as soon as the little girl was gone, to go to the next
house, and bid Miss Grace come to her. The servant
did so, and Grace, with her wild hair smoothed, and
with her yet wilder heart beating with expectation,





16 OUR HOME.
was conducted into the grand dining-room, where the
great lady was seated with her guests.
"Now, Miss Grace," said Mrs. Carpenter to the
child, who was left by the servant standing foolishly
in the middle of the room, look about you--here
we all are-and here is the dinner; notice everything;
and when you have satisfied your curiosity, you can
go But never let me catch you peeping in at my
windows again! "
This story, which was told through the whole
town, gave us an awful idea of the lady who would
not be peeped at. Another thing, of a more personal
nature, occurred to excite a little animosity in the
bosom of our family towards her. We, like all
country folks in those days, washed at home, and of
course every five or six weeks our garden was full of
very good clothes to be dried. One day the servant
came rushing into the parlour, where we were sitting
with our mother, exclaiming-
Only think, ma'am, Mrs. Carpenter has sent to
desire you will take in all your clothes, every rag
of them, because she is going to have company, and
it will never do for her company to see clothes hanging
out to dry."
It was an unheard-of thing! Desire us to take in
our clothes because she has company Give my
compliments to her," said our mother, "and desire
her never to invite company on our washing-nay "
Our mother did not mean this message actually to
go, but for all that it went.
Old Captain Buckstone, a neighbour, called at our
house that same day, and our mother related to him
the affront which Mrs. Carpenter had put on out





OUR HOME. 17
clothes. "The upstart! exclaimed the Captain;
"and I have seen her on the top of a baggage-
wagon !"
This somewhat consoled our mother, but she did
not easily get over the affront, nor, though in the
most neighbourly spirit she had all the things taken
in towards evening, when the company came, did
Mrs. Carpenter forget it either; from that day forth
they were on cold terms.
When the weather was severe, we played in an
upper room, which was partly in the roof, and with a
very pretty little casement window which opened into
Mrs. Gilbert's yard. The room was papered with a
reddish paper, and had a white marble slab fixed on
a bracket by the wall; this, and a chest, which held
bur playthings, and two little chairs, were all its
furniture. The window-sill was our table, it pro-
jected very comfortably, and there we sat in the
light on our little chairs. We were very fond
of this room; it was called the little red room," or
"the children's room; on one side of it was the
nursery, and on the other the second-best chamber,
which was not often used, so that there was but little
danger of our disturbing anybody, and that, perhaps,
was one reason why it suited us so well. There was
but one disadvantage in this room, and that was, that
just under the window there was a great craclk, where
the floor seemed to have shrunk from the skirting-
board. We lost a great many things there, small
pewter-plates and dishes, whole sets of doll's spoons
and small knives and scissors, and occasionally our
best silver thimbles, which useful implements of
industry, being thus swallowed up, made our mother
c2





Its OUR HOME.
always say that the floor really should be mended--
it would not be much trouble; only the fitting in of
a slip of wood, and it must be done. We wished it
might, and thought of how, if the board were taken
up, we might discover all our lost treasure, as well as
unknown-of things besides, which other people had
lost.-But the floor never was mended.
Our mother in the winter spun a great deal. It
was not the custom for gentlewomen to spin in those
midland parts of England at that time; spinning
was a fashion which had gone out for a quarter of a
century at least, but she was from South Wales,
a woman of strong energetic character, who, adhering
to good usage rather than fashion, had brought the
wheel with her, and used it for some years after
her marriage. She spun, therefore, every winter,
many pounds of flax into beautifully fine yarn, which
used to hang in hanks, as they were finished, at
the top of the kitchen, among hams, salted. beef, and
dried herbs. I have now table-linen of her spinning,
and most probably shall leave some of it to my
own children. She was an excellent spinner, and it
used to be the delight of us children to sit beside her,
and lay by turns our heads upon her knee, which
were thus, as we thought, agreeably rocked, or rather
trotted, by the turning of the wheel, whilst she
repeated to us long portions of Thomson's Seasons, of
which she was extremely fond, Gray's Elegy, passages
from Cowper, and other long poems, all of a medita-
tive and serious character. I can recall now the
sound of her voice, mingled with the busy humming
of the wheel, and it seems delightful.
In the spring, when the spinning was dons for the





OUR HOME. 19
year, there always came an annual pleasure, which
gave us great delight. This was the going to the
weaver, who lived about two miles off, to give
orders for the weaving, and to choose the patterns for
it. For this excursion some fine steady day in April
or the beginning of May was chosen, when, as the
country saying is, the crows had picked the dirt up.
It was always talked of for a week or two before-
hand, and brought with it great anticipations of
pleasure. We mostly went in the afternoon; it was
a pleasant walk, though it was along the turnpike
road the whole way, but green flowery fields bordered
each side; there were lambs in the fields, goslings
and young ducklings on the village and farm-house
ponds by the wayside; the willow-catkins were
all out; the hedges were budding with their young
green leaves, and our mother, whom we loved so
well, and who yet so seldom took walks with us into
the country, was with us now, and to us children,
who lived so much at home, it was quite an adven-
ture to go so far. I remember so well the hamlet,
called Wills-Lock, through which we passed, with
the plough projecting over its ale-house as a sign,
and where, at the juncture of the Stafford and Lich-
field roads, stood the pinfold, and, better than that,
the saw-pit, where, if the men were not at work, the
children always were playing. I remember the Low-
fields Hall, where we never failed to wonder why a
place that stood on a hill should be called low, nor to
talk of the' horrid deed which not so long before had
been done there; when the groom, going into the
stables, found the four fine coach-horses all with
their throats cut. It was as dreadful as any murder,





70 OUR HOME.
and we looked with horror, yet not without a thrill-
ing interest, that was not without its agreeable
excitement, at the great stables adjoining the house
where the deed was done.
On we went, and into the next valley, where lived
old Master Pedley, the weaver. He was an old
bachelor, and his sister, who was a widow, kept
his house; they were most decent, comfortable
people, who, possessing a homestead of their own
and a little property, never knew the meaning of
that awful word-poverty, and had, therefore, such
cheerful countenances as did one good to look
upon, and, besides which, we always seemed to
be expected when we got there, which would not
have been strange to us children, for children are
not so easily surprised by such things as grown
people, had not our mother called our attention to
the fact.
I've been a-looking for you !" said the old
woman invariably, taking us through the little
kitchen into the still less parlour, with its brick floor,
and its pleasant window, that looked out into the
pleasant crofts behind. And those crofts it was
which had such a charm for us, for they were full of
cowslips and wild daffodils; and whilst our mother
rested and talked with the old people, and arranged
about her weaving, we went into the crofts, and
gathered our hands full of these lovely flowers.
When we returned to the house, we always found
the little round stand set out, and the bottle of cow-
slip-wine, and the seed-cake, and ginger-bread ready,
" for," said the old woman, I 've been a-looking for
you these two or three days !"






It was a charming thing, this going to Master
Pedley's, and, perhaps, what made us think most of
it was, that it only came once a-year. We gathered
plenty of flowers there, for though we had cowslips
nearer to us than this place, we had no daffodils,
and they were flowers that seemed fit for a garden.
Our father mostly came to meet us on our return
home, and then our mother taking his arm, they two
went on together, leaving us two happy creatures
either to go on before or to come after hand in hand.
The maid who had the care of us then was a
relation of the old weaver, and was called Betty.
She was a childish, giddy sort of girl, and was no
great favourite with us. Her father was a tailor in
the town, and as it was the time when the French
invasion was so much talked of, he, like all other tailors,
was busily employed in making regimentals for the
volunteers. Betty brought us home pieces of scarlet
cloth, and we, warm in the general cause, dressed up
a regiment of doll-volunteers. Had we been boys,
we should, like the boys of the town, have acted the
volunteers, and been drilled, 'and exercised, and
marched about, as they were, to the sound of drum
and fife. But we looked on at all this out of our
nursery-window ; it was something with which we
girls had nothing to do actively. We had not one
single boy acquaintance, for our parents, for reasons
of their own, kept us very much secluded. Boys, I
remember, seemed to me a wild kind of strange
animal, with which it was hardly creditable, and by
no means desirable, to have anything to do; and
when a stranger once asked-" Have you any
brothers ?" one of us replied with great gravity, and


21


OUR HOME.






a sense of great propriety, Oh no; our father and
mother do not approve of boys."
The boys of the town, therefore, played at soldiers
in the streets, and we and our maid Betty equipped
a regiment of doll-volunteers.



CHAPTER II.
THE FIRST SCHOOL.
I HAVE said that we had no boy-acquaintance. I
must go back a year or two from the time I last
wrote of, and I shall then have to mention one.
Whilst our grandfather was our inmate, in order
that he might not be annoyed by us in any way, and
partly, perhaps, at his suggestion, we were sent to a
day-school.
This was kept by a Miss Goodwin, a fair, mild, lady-
like person, such a one as might have taken to school-
teaching from some reverse of fortune-a stranger
would have said so instantly. Whenever I read now
of the gentle lady who taught school in Crabbe's
Tales of the Hall, I think of her. But she was a
gentlewoman by nature, rather than by birth-one
whose spirit was of pure gold. Our mother made
acquaintance with her when we became her scholars,
and was greatly attached to her during her short life.
She lived in a small house near to us, and her sister,
Teresa, or Terry, as she was called, who was a little
old-looking woman, and who always seemed to us
somewhat half-witted, kept house for them. She
lived in the kitchen, through which we passed to


22


THE FIRST SCHOOL.







the parlour, which was the school-room, and with her
old-fashioned "flowered" gown pinned up around her,
seemed always to be dusting and polishing the dark
oak furniture.
We soon became very fond of Miss Goodwin, and
she seemed equally so of us. We were certainly her
privileged scholars, and cut paper and amused our-
selves in a thousand unscholastic ways during the five
hours which we spent in school. Our grandfather used
sometimes to fetch us home, but this, for two reasons,
we did not greatly like; in the first place, he always
sat and talked so long with Miss Goodwin and
Terry after school, which we thought tiresome; and
secondly, because, when in a very good humour, he
would carry one or other of us, and this was ten times
worse than walking, because, dear old man, as he
stooped forward very much, we always felt as if we
should fall out of his arms-but this, of course, we
never told him.
Miss Goodwin took tea with our mother now and
then; she used to come dressed in muslin gowns,
either white, or printed in such delicate patterns as
to look almost white; my mother often took tea in
the garden when she came, because she was so fond
of fresh air, and with her daily confinement in the
school, and her delicate health, she could enjoy but
very little of it. The family was a consumptive one,
and though we did not know what it meant when we
heard our mother say so, we soon gleaned up the
meaning of the fear which she often expressed, that
poor Miss Goodwin would follow her sister, who had
died. Her sister had married a well-to-do black-
smith in the place, named Steele, and after a year or


23


THE FIRST SCHOOL.





Z4 THE FIRST SCHOOL.
two had died, leaving one child, a son. Sammy
Steele, this boy, was anything but a consumptive-
looking subject. We had glimpses of him now and
then in the kitchen, with his Aunt Terry ; to us he
belonged to the race of boys, and was therefore a
creature to be shunned. He was a strong-limbed,
big boy of his age, and we had always an aversion to
him.
Miss Goodwin also had a brother in London, who
was married and settled there, and a sister, who was
a housekeeper in the great mansion of some great
millionaire in the metropolis also, and who now and
then, when the family was in the country, came
down to see her sisters. She was a handsome, portly
woman, with an air of life about her; she knew,"
as the simple townsfolks said, "what was what," and
was altogether a person of consequence, although she
bore the simple country name of Dolly.
Once, in the Christmas holidays, Miss Goodwin
came to our house, to ask if we might go early that
afternoon to play with her brother's son, "little
Johnny," whom her sister Dolly had brought with
her from London, for change of air. Poor Johnny,"
she said, was a very delicate boy, he was very still
and good, and they all feared he would go off in a
waste. Johnny was as gentle as a girl," she said,
" and she hoped our parents would let us go."
We went, and there was Johnny. I remember
well, child as I was, the shock that went through me
as I saw him first. I do not think that I had
perhaps ever seen a child out of health before; he
was thin ; his dark jacket and trousers hung quite
loose upon him; he was as white as his shirt-collar,





THE FIRST SCHOOL. 2b
and his eyes were hollow and mournful. We were
filled with the kindest compassion; we took his thin
hands in ours, and looked at his long thin fingers,
till our eyes filled with tears. No, indeed! there was
no danger of such a dear child as this doing us any
harm Poor Johnny poor little Johnny Goodwin !
We both sighed, and began to think what we
should do to amuse him, when in came rushing
Sammy Steele, the blacksmith's son, full of rude
health, and almost bursting out of his coarse clothes.
We were shocked, but we could not get away. We
drew up close to one another, and stood in dignified
silence. But our dignity mattered nothing to
Sammy Steele; he was overflowing with good
humour and energy; he was bent upon amusing us
all. He had made a'sort of oven-his aunt had given
him leave to bring it in, and here it was. He set it on
one side of the fire, and poked the hot cinders under
it, and puffed and blew till he was as hot as any
Vulcan, old or young, and presently the little oven
was getting hot. His aunt Terry had mixed some
tea-cakes, and they were to be baked in his oven ;
and more than that, he had himself made a little
bakestone, or bakston as he called it, and his aunt
Terry had mixed some batter, and he himself was
going to make some pikelets for our tea. Never
was there such a busy, good-natured fellow. Poor
Johnny's pale face kindled up; he took the greatest
interest in the oven; it baked the most charming
little tea-cakes. Miss Goodwin set out little tiny
china tea-things on a tray, and one of us made tea,
whilst the other buttered the cakes and the smoking
hot pikelets which Sammy Steele turned on and





26 THI uIRST seOooJ.
turned off his bakestone, with the most perfect skill,
never thinking-not he-about himself, but saying
that he had plenty yet to bake-plenty we must
eat more; we could not half have done; he never
saw folks with such little appetites in all his life,
After we had satisfied ourselves, his turn came. His
aunt Terry had allowed him a certain quantity of
lard to grease his bakestone with, and all this he had
exhausted over us-there was not a bit more in the
house. What was to be done ? But it was easy
enough for Sammy Steele to know what must be
done, for he was a boy with resources. He took the
candle out of the stick, and greased the stone. In
vain we exclaimed in horror; it mattered nothing;
he was not over delicate, and he declared his pikelet
to be excellent.
Oh he was a rare fellow, that blacksmith's son I
We could not tell which we liked best, Sammy Steele,
with his hot, red face, and large brown hands, or
Johnny Goodwin, who looked so gentle and so ill.
We went home delighted. Sammy Steele, however,,
never came to our house, though his cousin did. He
walked up and down our garden, leaning on his
aunt's arm, but it was winter time, and he could come
only seldom. He became so ill, too, that his aunta
became seriously anxious on his account. Mrs. Dolly
shortened her visit and took him home, and in
the spring he died. His death was quite a grief to
us. We cried sadly, and our mother consoled us by
saying that Johnny Goodwin was surely gone tQ
heaven, for there were not many such boys as he..





27


CHAPTER III.
CHANGES. THE NEW MAID.
ABOUT this time two changes occurred. In the
first place our grandfather left us. He took lodgings
at a pleasant house belonging to an old gardener and
his wife, where there were no children, at about a
mile's distance from us, and just out of the other side
of the town. Here he had a couple of rooms, and
lived very much to his heart's content. Here he
heated his room with a chafing-dish and charcoal, and
set up his crucible, and dried his herbs, and pounded
and dispensed his snuff, without any interruption.
Here, also, he could receive his patients of all kinds,
and practise the use of his metallic tracters, which
were at that time the rage, and' in the use of which
he was an adept, on all kind of poor, infirm and
afflicted creatures who came to him. He was a great
deal more at his ease after this removal, and so were
we. Once a week we children were sent up with
our maid to visit him, and to take some kind message
or little present to him from our parents, and every
Sunday he dined with us. We were very fond of
visiting the old gentleman in this way, for several
reasons. In the first place, we liked the walk, which
to us, secluded children as we were, had something
quite adventurous in it; we learned to know the
town in this way, and it had much such a charm for
us as the reading of a new book.
There were several ways of reaching the Heath, as
that part of the neighbourhood was called where our





28 CHANGES. THE NEW MAID.
grandfather lived; and we were extremely fond of
varying them. Sometimes we went through the
market-place and up the High-street; and amused
ourselves with town-life the whole way. Sometimeswe
went round through the church-yard, which in those
days was always kept unlocked and open to the public,
as all country church-yards ought to be, and thus
leaving the town entirely, and, going far to the right,
threaded pleasant alleys that led between the bowery
gardens of large houses, to which we occasionally
went with our mother to make morning calls. On
this side there were extensive views into Derbyshire
and the north of Staffordshire among the hills, whence
in somewhat later years were seen the white turrets
of Alton Towers; from this side too were distinctly
seen the ruins of Tutbury Castle, an object of in-
terest to us at all times. There was a third way, too,
and yet a fourth, and both of these had something
quite terrific to our imaginations. The one led us
past the great wooden barn where a certain Betty
Ball had hung herself, and which therefore was said
to be haunted; and further on to the three lane-ends,
where an unfortunate girl who had committed suicide
was buried, according to the brutal usage of those
days, with a stake run through her body, as if she had
not suffered anguish enough in her life, without her
miserable remains enduring the cruellest outrage in
death. The other road led through the back lanes
of the tvwn, where we had not tne permission of our
parents to go; but where, I am ashamed to acknow-
ledge, we sometimes went unpermitted. In one of
these lanes lived the beggars, the rag-gatherers, the
chimney-sweepers, and bone-dealers. Asses were





CHANGES. THE NEW MAID. 2M
kept in the lower rooms, and house-doors were fas-
tened with padlocks. The men had a reckless, law-
less, swaggering air about them; they were bronzed
with wind and weather, and had the look of dwellers
out of doors; they wore ragged and greasy clothes,
and had their hats either slouched over their eyes, or
else knowingly set on one side of their heads; and
the women were some of them wretched-looking hags,
or flaunting young queans," with black ringlets and
long dangling earrings. But I am not purposing at this
moment to describe the town or its inhabitants; my
business is now with our grandfather and our visits
to him.
The old gentleman gave us almonds and raisins
when we came, and sometimes a new book. The
books which we had then were very different to those
which children have now-a-days. They were exter-
nally mostly square, and bound, many of them, in
beautiful paper, stamped and printed in green and
gold, and red and lilac. I wonder one never sees
such paper now;-beautiful books they were to look
at on the outside; but alas!-I grieve to say it-they
were very dry within. At that time the Taylor's
charming Original Poems, and more charming Nursery
Rhymes, were not written-nor had any of Maria
Edgeworth's earlier ones penetrated into our out-of-
the-world region. Our books bore such titles as The
Castle of Instruction, The Hill of Learning, The
Rational Dame, and so on and seemed written on
purpose to deter children from reading; however, we
were thankful to our grandfather for whatever he gave
us. We walked about the pleasant, sloping, and sunny
garden of the house where he lived, and round and.
D2





30 CHANGES. THE NEW MAID.
round the croft at the back of the house, where the
sweetest white and blue violets grew on the banks in
spring. Our mother's favourite flowers were violets;
essence of violet was the only perfume she used, and
all that belonged to her had the peculiar odour of
that flower; the very tradespeople used to say that
the bank-bills that came from her smelled so sweet
that they could distinguish them from anybody else's.
From the delight which violets gave to her, and the
pleasure which we always had in gathering them for
)her, I have even now, and always shall have, a pecu-
liar feeling towards them ;- they bring back the
'child's sentiment of affection to a good mother,-a
holy and a pleasant sentiment.
About the time when our grandfather left us, we
parted also with our maid Betty, and the immediate
'reason of her going was this:-Our parents went during
'the winter from home, on a short visit into Cheshire;
and, either by permission or otherwise, the servants
-of the family were out too for one night. I cannot
tell how it happened to be so; but I well remember
Betty being alone with us in the house in the even-
sing, and because the nursery seemed a long way off,
we all three sat together by the kitchen fire long
after our usual bed-time. We had a kitten that was
poorly, and Betty sat by the fire on a low stool and
ifed it with a tea-spoon, and one of us held the tea-
,cup of milk and the other the kitchen-candle; Betty
said the kitten would die, and we cried. An eirie
sort of feeling crept over us; the kitchen looked dim
and ghastly, lighted by its one thin candle; we
thought of all the rooms in the house where there
was nobody, where all was darkness and silence; we





CHANGES. THE NEW MAID. 31
thought of lumber-rooms where spiders spun their
cloudy webs, and of the cellars where were the crawl-
ing things; we thought, and were terrified almost
out of our wits. When the imagination is excited
either in old or young, they begin to tell dismal
stories. Accordingly Betty began to tell of a dreadful
thing which had just occurred up in the moorlands
of Staffordshire : a little child had been devoured by
a hungry pig; and then of something even worse
than that a thousand times,-of a little child in that
same wild part of the country which had been killed
by a cruel female relation, to whose care it had been
committed, and baked in an oven; a neighbour had
come in, and perceiving a strange smell, asked what
it was, and suspecting the fact, had then gone out and
raised the neighbourhood, when the wicked wretch,
who was busy at the wash-tub, was secured, and the
poor child's body found baking in what was then
called a stein-pot. It was a horrid story; we fairly
screamed for terror; we knew not what to do; Betty
was as much terrified as we; the kitten fell into a
sort of convulsion, and struggled as if in pain ; Betty
said it would be a mercy to put it out of its misery,
but to us it seemed like the woman murdering the
child. Just then, the clock struck-it was twelve!
it was midnight! We had never been up so late
before in all our lives; we dared not go to bed, nor
dared she. At length she proposed that, late as it
was, we should all go up together to her father's, the
tailor's, knock them up, and bring her brother down
to sleep in the house. No sooner said than done;
she muffled us up in our little coats, put on her
cloak, and we sallied forth. It was pitch dark;
there was not a lamp in the town; the sky was dark





82 CHANGES. THE NEW MAID.
and cloudy, and the wind blew fearfully. There was
to us something awful beyond words in being thus
abroad at the dead of night. The watchman stood
by the pump muffled up to the ears in his cloak,
with his lantern at his feet-asleep.
"Never mind him!" said Betty, and hurried
us on.
Her father's was at the other end of the town; we
knocked them up, to their great terror, and roused at
the same time the whole neighbourhood; and after
waiting what seemed to us an immense time, Joe,
her tall brother, went home with us to sleep in the
house. When we reached home, the kitten was dead
--stiff, stretched out on the hearth; but Betty would
not allow us time to mourn over it; she warmed
what she called a "good jorum" of elder wine, of
which she gave us to drink, and then put us to bed.
I remember nothing more of that night; we must
have slept very soundly and very late too, for when
we woke next morning, all things were as usual in
the house ; the other servants were come home ; the
house seemed fully inhabited, and Betty was sitting
by the nursery fire at her work. Whilst she dressed
us she made us promise not to say one word to our
parents, or anybody else, of the adventures of the
night. To us they all seemed like a wild horrible
dream, and we promised secrecy.
Our parents returned at the expected time; and
we were asked-as we always were on such occasions
-what we had done each day; fortunately nothing
was said of the night, so we kept our secret. In the
course of a few days, however, some sort of a strange
report came to our mother's ears of "her dear children
wandering up and down the streets after midnight





CHANGES. THE NEW MAID. U3
like forlorn creatures." She was horrified, as well
she might be, and asked us so point blank as to the
truth that we were obliged to confess all. Betty
then came in for her share of wrath; she at first
denied, and then finding that all was known, reproached
us for want of faith. Our mother removed us from
this scene of strife, and dismissed Betty instantly.
We were not sorry when she went; for though she
was not wilfully unkind to us in any way, she still
exercised a very uncomfortable and unwholesome
influence over us.
A new maid was now to be inquired for; and as
our mother on consideration thought that Betty's
faults arose from want of experience, she determined
to have an older and graver person with us for the
future. Many young women came after the place-
for our service was in excellent repute-and we, who
sat entirely with our mother, saw all who came,
though we were invariably sent out of the room
during the conversation which ensued. At length
we were told that a person was engaged, and would
come the next week. She came-a tall, gaunt,
grave-looking woman of five-and-twenty, with some-
thing wild and picturesque in her appearance, a very
abrupt, decided manner, and a speech singularly
dialectical. We knew not what to think of her; all.
our mother's acquaintance were in the same predica-
ment; but they received for answer that she came.
highly recom.nenoed as ai most trustworthy, con-
scientious, and clever woman, and these were qualities.
which our mother valued more highly than mere
polish of manner or exterior.
This remarkable person-who lived in our family





34 CHANGES. THE NEW MAID.
for fifteen years from this day, and only left us to go
home and die-was called Nanny. Ann Woodings
was her name; but Nanny she had always been
called, and so she still chose to be called. She wore,
when she came to the house, some kind of dark,
sober-coloured dress, made very tight, in the style of
those days, half high, with a prim linen habit-shirt
under it with a little plaited frill, like that of a boy's
shirt, round the neck, and a black neck-ribbon; a
cap of white linen, made all in a piece, and called by
her "a bag-cap," with a double frill round the face;
a shortish, reddish-brown cloak, trimmed down the
front and round the capacious hood with old narrow
fur; and a little skimming-dish shaped green silk
bonnet. Such an odd figure hardly ever was seen. Her
features were large and unpleasing; her complexion
muddy, and her hands and feet remarkably large.
Strange as this woman was in appearance, time
soon proved to our mother that she was clever and
trustworthy; conscientious, too, I ought perhaps
also to add, but that was not exactly in the way our
mother would have liked had she known all,-but of
that anon; for the present we have nothing to do
but with her outward management, and this indeed
was clever. She was punctual, like the sun. We
were in bed and out of bed at the exact moment; we
*were taken to school and brought back to the minute,
without any oversight of our mother's; and then,
,after Miss Goodwin's death, when our mother under-
took our education, nothing could be more satisfac-
tory than all her preparation and management.
"She is a treasure!" said our mother to her
friends; and they, hearing nothing but good of her,





THE TOWN. 35
and seeing our neat, healthful appearance, treated
her also as a person to be respected.




CHAPTER IV.
THE TOWN.
UNDER the guidance of Nanny, our visits to our
grandfather-go by whichever way we would-were
infinitely more attractive than poor Betty ever could
have made them.
Looking back from that hill-top of distance of
which I have before spoken, I can now understand
many things regarding Nanny, the effect of which as
children we only felt. Nanny was really a singularly
gifted woman, if not a woman of genius. She must
have had remarkable powers of observation, a reten-
tive memory, a turn for all that was picturesque and
traditional, considerable superstition, and a remark-
able faculty for relating anything clearly and effec-
tively. She cast, as it were, a spell over us; we sat
and listened for hours to her histories, which seemed
never to come to an end; and there was something
so appropriate-so racy and picturesque, in the old
dialectic language which she used, that I never liked
any story told in modern polite English half as well
as hers; they seemed to me to want richness and
picturesqueness. From this cause I trace, even now,
my great love of dialect, and the singularly pleasing
effect which it always produces on me when spoken.
Nanny was a good tactician, too; she did not
launch out into all her broad singularities of character





W6 THE TOWN.
at once-they stole upon us by degrees; and, indeed,
had it not been so, our parents must have been
startled, and assuredly would have dismissed her.
Many of her peculiarities in fact they never did know,
and we should as soon have thought of betraying
ourselves as her; yet she never put us on our guard
by enforcing secrecy; she seemed as bold and open
as the day, and yet she was cunning and wary for all
that. And though I speak now with the full know-
ledge of Nanny's character, it was only by slow
degrees that she fully revealed herself to us; yet in
the meantime she was making herself not only
agreeable but necessary to us also.
Nothing in the world could be more charming
than walks into the town with her. We knew the
exterior of things before she came; but who, like
her, could pull down with a touch, as it were, the
front of every house, and give us a peep into the
interior, however secret or strange ? Who, like her,
was full of anecdote about all the people we met,
from the grandee of the town down to the buyer of
hare-skins in Smithy-lane?
There, in that bowery-looking dwelling overgrown
with rose and clematis, lived the lady who had loved
a sea-captain, and fought by his side in man's attire,
and saved his life at the expense of severe wounds on
her own body. A fair and passionately-loving lady
had she been in her youth; but for all that, she was
a very virago in temper now; and Nanny had seen
her box the ears of her second husband as resolutely
as she had fought on behalf of her first lover.
There, in that gloomy house, lived the great army-
contractor A -, whose slaughter of cattle for the





THE TOWN. 37
army was every week so immense, and who made
purchases all over the country. Did we know that
in an upper room of that house, the window of which,
small and grated with iron, opened on the leads, had
been kept for years, chained down to her bedstead,
his unhappy wife. Wonderful were the stories
which she told of this house-of the busy trading
father, of the unfortunate wife, and the handsome
young profligate son, who, like some character in one
of Fielding's or Smollet's novels, went up and down
the world breaking the hearts of, she knew not how
many, young and handsome women.
Mrs. A- was not, according to Nanny, the only
mysterious captive kept in garrets and secret places
of houses whose outsides looked smiling and cheerful,
with pleasant gardens all around them. There was
a doleful idiot in one house, the mistress of which
came in silks and satins, with her lap-dog at her
heels, to visit our own mother. And there were the
two occasionally insane brothers, the S--s, army-
contractors likewise, one of whom had been in the
West Indies with a cargo of mules, and had gone
mad there, and there had worn such fearful manacles
on his legs that the marks of them remained to this
day. These men were of gigantic size and with voices
naturally powerful, which, when inflamed by madness,
became fearfully terrific. It was with dread that we
looked up to these houses, and listened if we might
not hear awful sounds proceeding from them.
Nanny's stories were mostly of the wild and won-
derful; but she now and then varied them by telling
us of such dwellers in houses as the poor organist
Green and his sick wife, whose little chamber was





88 THE TOWN
made cheerful by the affection of her good husband,
and by the balsams and sweet-smelling plants, ver-
benas and balm of Gilead, which she cultivated
with a perfect passion. Then there were old women
who lived in the alms-houses, whose histories were
worth the telling. There was old Alice, or Ales
Emery, as she was called, whose daughter was such
a pattern of filial love, who took in needle-work, and
died; but not before she had made a shroud for herself
and another for her mother, which the old woman
kept carefully laid in lavender in the bottom drawer
of her chest, waiting for the time when it should be
wanted.
Sometimes Nanny took us past the old Hall-the
half-timbered, gloomy, desolate old hall; and then
she perfectly revelled in its history. We knew the
lady who lived there-Miss Grace Copestake; for
she occasionally called on our mother, and was, in
our eyes, a singular person, dressed as she was in
yellow or some bright colour, and with a quick
flighty sort of manner which had always struck us
as peculiar. Our parents, when speaking of her, fre-
quently called her poor Miss Grace," but we never
knew why till Nanny told us.
The father of Miss Grace had been a speculative
man, and had introduced the lapidary business, on
rather a great scale, into the town. He built ex-
tensive wooden shops all round the large court of his
house, which was enclosed with a high, dreary-look-
ing wall. She described the desolate, weed-grown
court and the decaying shops as they now stood; for
when it ceased to be the fashion for gentlemen to
wear buckles set with stones, his business fell off,
and he was a ruined man. He died; and Miss Grace





THE TOWN. 3U
undertook the settling of his affairs: she sold all she
could to pay his debts, and then was left with the
bare walls of the desolate old house, for she was
compelled to sell all the furniture excepting what
was needed for the few rooms which she inhabited,
and there she lived with an ancient man and his
wife, her sole domestics. Poor Miss Grace became a
little wrong in her head, either with care or sorrow;
and it was enough to make her crazed to see the
things which she saw night after night in that doleful
old house. What, then, was the house haunted ?-of
a certainty; what old place like that was not haunted!
There was the spectral lady who stole down the
private staircase now and then, at uncertain periods,
in stiff silks which rustled at every step. Mysterious
hands there were which held a bloody bowl above a
certain closet door, and which not only Miss Grace
had seen, but a most excellent lady-a Mrs. Parker,
who with her daughter had at one time taken a part
of the house for a school; and in consequence of
which and other such eirie visions had been obliged
to leave. And not only she and Miss Grace had seen
them, but several of the lace-girls" also. These
"lace-girls," as they were called, were young women
employed by Miss Grace in working lace, which she
received from the manufacturers in Nottingham, and
employed girls to sprig and work in frames. She had
fitted up an immense room in this dreary old mansion
for this purpose. The lace was stretched in a sort of
quilting-frame which was placed on tressels, and one
or two girls worked at a piece. Whether Miss Grace
did this for amusement or as a means of subsistence,
I know not; but there the girls went daily, and,





4V THE TOWN.
according to common report, strange were the sights
and sounds with which they became familiar.
One day Nanny obtained leave to take us to see
some horse-riders and rope-dancers who were come
to the town, and were exhibiting their wonderful
feats in the ruinous court, among the decaying lapi-
dary shops, which with their large, broken windows
-where they were strong enough for the purpose-
served as a sort of stand. Of the horse-riding feats I
now remember much less than of the effect produced
on my mind by that scene of desolation and decay,
for the full effect of which Nanny had prepared our
minds. When the performances were finished, we
went to the hall itself, where Nanny-who was
acquainted with the old domestic and his wife-ob-
tained for us a view of the whole place. It was
indeed a dreary, desolate spot; many of the walls
had been hung with tapestry, and now stood in their
naked brick and mortar, looking worse than the
interior of an out-building. Handsome ceilings,
cornices, and lofty windows, with carved wood-work
about them, made the strangest contrast with the
walls. The lady's own room was finished with dark,
old oak wainscot; a few family pictures hung in 'it,
and there she herself sat in her yellow gauze, like an
old faded picture herself. As she was acquainted
with our parents she received us most graciously,
gave us little cakes to eat and each a glass of wine,
made us tell her all about the horse-riders, and bade
us come often to see her.
But we never went again till after Miss Grace's
death, when our father purchased at the sale of the
whole place the very oak wainscot of the room where





THE TOWN. 41
she then sat, and had it put up in a house of his
own, where it remains dark and handsome as evver.
There was another house, too, which interested us
greatly. It was a sort of old, low, red-brick mansion;
and stood, half buried in trees and ivy, within an
ancient wall, over and about which the ivy grew in
heavy masses. There, as our father had often told
us, the Duke of Cumberland had been entertained
by the Gardiner family, to which it still belongs,
when he spent a night in the town in his pursuit of
the Scotch rebels, in 1745, and in fact on his way to
Culloden; and where he received an entertainment
so much to his mind that he conferred upon the
town an exemption for ever from soldiers being quar-
tered there. This our father had often told us, and
also that the cook who had prepared the supper for
the duke lived afterwards in my grandfather's family,
where, if either master or mistress presumed to find
fault with her cooking, she rose up in a towering
passion, saying that she who had pleased the Duke of
Cumberland never would be found fault with by
man or woman, be they who they might.
But from Nanny came another story. There had
lived here a lady wonderfully beautiful, who yet had
some secret sorrow at her heart that neither her
husband nor any friend of hers could fathom. She
drove about in her carriage, the handsomest woman
of the neighbourhood, but she never smiled nor
willingly associated with any one.
One day, in her husband's absence, she told her
maid that she was not well and would keep her bed,
and was therefore left alone in her chamber. Towards.
noon, the report of a pistol in her room alarmed the
E2





V4 THE TOWN.
whole house; they rushed thither; the door waslocked
and aft was silent within. The door was burst open,
and the unhappy lady lay a horrible spectacle in her
bed; she had shot herself as she lay there; but why,
no one knew; the secret of her sorrow was buried
with her.
Nanny spared no details in her stories; everything
was told clearly and straightforward, and painted in
strong colours. Whatever she told us she made us
-see and feel, and, as it were, become actors in. We
never passed this house, therefore, without hearing
in the sunny stillness of a summer's noon the sudden
report of the pistol, and then seeing the bloody sheets
and the awful corpse.
And then there was the principal inn which we
passed. Had we never heard of the young and hand-
some lady who came there and died ?
It was late one dark and stormy winter night; the
ostler was just going to bed; the last brandy-and-
water-drinking guest had left the fat, buxom landlady
and the bar-when up drove, like fury, a post-chaise
to the door, and pulled up suddenly; the door flew
*open, and, without waiting to have the steps let down,
out sprang a gentleman of about eight-and-twenty,
and, rushing into the house, demanded instant atten-
tion for a lady who was extremely ill. All was in
motion in the inn in a second of time; for the land-
lady, who had a quick eye for such things, saw
instantly that the gentleman, who was handsome and
seemed to be in the utmost distress of mind, was rich
also. The chambermaid ran up stairs with her keys,
a waiter ran up after her with a shovel of live coals
to make a quick fire, and the sick lady was supported





THE TOWN. 40
from the chaise, principally by the gentleman, and
carried up stairs, where they found the fire burning
and the bed ready to receive her.
She was a young creature of perhaps seventeen--
the most magnificently beautiful creature that eyes
Were ever set upon. She seemed to be in the very
languor of death. The gentleman knelt beside her;
rubbed her hands and feet; spoke to her in a tone of
the most agonized love, but in a foreign tongue, so
that no one understood the words which he said.
The doctor came, but gave no hope. The clergyman
came early the next morning and administered the
sacrament; but the lady spoke not one word. That
evening she died. No words can describe the distress
of the poor young gentleman: he never left the room
where she lay; and never, night or day, took off his
clothes during the time he stayed there.
He ordered the most costly grave-clothes for her,
and the very best coffin that ever had been made.
Nobody, however, knew who they were : the gentry
of the town, full of sympathy and curiosity, made
the most zealous offers of help; but he civilly
rejected all. He saw no one but the undertaker
and the clergyman; nor could the clergyman learn
from him any particulars regarding them. All was
mystery. He paid handsomely for all that he had
in the inn or in the town, and this made everybody
give him a good word.
She was buried late in the evening, just one week
after they had arrived there ; the gentleman being the
only mourner; and in his heart-Nanny never failed
to say-there was grief enough for a dozen funerals.
He ordered a post-chaise to be ready at the door on






his return from the funeral, and into it he got, and
fee'd the post-boy to drive as fast as his horses could
go, to Lichfield; and that was the last that was
known of him.
On the next Sunday, the clergyman preached a
funeral sermon for the lady who had been cut down
so young and beautiful, like a flower of the field. It
was a very fine and touching sermon, and left not a
dry eye in the church; and even to this day is
handed about among the ladies of the town in manu-
script. The clergyman received an order from the
gentleman to place a plain but handsome stone over
her grave, on which were to be simply carved the
initials M. B. The stone was raised; all the town
went to see it; but nothing could be made out from
those two senseless letters.
Such were some of Nanny's stories, as we went
through the town on our visits to our grandfather.



CHAPTER V.
NANNY AT HOME.
NANNY was, as I have said, a most interesting
companion abroad; but she was not less so at home.
How shall I ever describe the spell of enchantment
which she threw over our nursery hearth! I should
be the first of story-tellers if I had a power like that
which she possessed.
She would sometimes be in a humour to talk about
herself; and then she described her home, her youth,
her many sisters, and her one brother, and her


44


NANNY AT HOME.





NANNY AT HOME. 40
parents, with such a life-like reality, that even now
I remember all their names and all the particulars
regarding them. She told us of the village where
she lived, and of the families high and low who in-
habited it;-Lawyer Robinson, and Parson Groves
and his fair daughters, and the farmer's handsome
sons-of the young Bartle Gough the village rake,
and Hugo Alveston Chetwynd the gay village squire
-and of Hannah Jackson, who died for love of a
"false young man," named Charles Woolley.
Hannah Jackson was a village belle, and lived with
her old grand-parents in a rural cottage that stood in
a garden full of flowers. Hannah Jackson went duly
to church every Sunday with a nosegay in her hand,
and the old people went with her. She was the
light of their eyes and the joy of their old hearts.
All the young men of the neighbourhood courted
her, but she only listened to one; and in return for
his offered love she gave her whole heart. She was
the dear friend of our Nanny; and our Nanny spoke
of her with enthusiasm, as a very angel. Her lover
was false to her; and poor Hannah drooped like a
flower whose root has been cut off. She fell into
what the country people call "a waste," and she sent
over to pray that her friend Nanny would go and see,
her. Nanny went; they walked into the church-
yard together, and Hannah chose the place where she-
would be buried. She then showed her friend a,
paper on which she had disposed of all her small
worldly possessions-her best shawl and bonnet to,
one, her Prayer-book and Bible to another, to one
her housewife, and to another her silver thimble-
and to the old grand-parents her little earnings imin





4U NANNY AT HOME.
money. Nanny promised with tears to be a true
executor; and so they parted, to see each other
bodily on earth no more.
Nanny was in service in the town, and, according
to her account, a few weeks after their parting, as she
lay in bed awake in the early morning, while it was
yet dark, she became conscious of a presence in the
room. All was still as death, and the curtains of the
bed slowly and silently parted; a pale light filled
the opening, and there stood, as distinctly as if in life,
the figure of that heart-broken maiden. She looked
grave, but no longer sad; not a word was said, but
their eyes met; they gazed for a moment at each
other, and then the pale shadow slowly faded away,
and all was darkness and vacancy in the chamber
Nanny described herself not as frightened, but as
solemnly impressed, and she felt sure that this was a
token of her death. She lay and listened; and pre-
sently the church clock struck four. Her friend then
had died between this hour and the last; she could
not sleep again, but lay and pondered on the strange
occurrence. Two days afterwards, her father came
with the farmer's wagon to the town, and brought
news such as she expected. At half past three
o'clock on the morning of the apparition, Hannah
Jackson had died.
Nanny had the firmest belief in a variety of super-
matural appearances and agencies. She knew the
house where a hobthrush had helped the farmer's
family for many years, until-as is always the case-
it was driven away by the offer of a suit of clothes.
She knew haunted bridges and stiles. In one case
which she described, a black dog kept ever sullen





NANNY AT HOME. 47
watch there; in the other, a little old woman without
a head sat spinning. Her own father's wagon had
been tied so firmly to a rush that the team of six
horses could not draw it thence. There were, she
said, particular places where spirits of the earth, or
fairies, or whatever you choose to call them, had
supreme power; and such was this spot where the
wagon was fixed. What was the spell which re-
leased the wagon I do not now remember, but it is
no great loss; for as roads are in so much better
condition now-a-days, imps of the road have far less
power than formerly.
Nanny amused us over and over again by the story
of herself and her sister Betty being sent by their
mother to sell two couple of ducks at the Rugeley
market. They had to pass through Armitage, along
what she called the cut-side," and of which she
always spoke with horror. Canals were not very
common in those days, or rather in that part of the
country. The country people called them cuts,"
and the people employed on the canals, and called by
them "navigators," were held in great horror, and
many terrible stories were told of their misdeeds by
the cut-side" in lonesome places, and that not alone
at "dark hour," but in broad daylight.
Off, however, trudged the two little girls, each
with a basket on her arm, each basket containing a
couple of ducks. They had never been by that road,
or so far alone before; and when they reached the
"cut-side," every step filled them with direful appre-
hension. Tall reeds grew by the banks, and there
were dark watery places, like sullen pools, where
they could think of nothing but drowned men and





48 NANNY AT HOME.
women. Here and there they came to thick plant.
tions of fir and other trees, the fag-end or the very
middle of some gentleman's place, where the threat
of steel-traps terrified them, or the distant view of
some gray solitary house suggested ideas of loneliness
and terror. Now and then they met the awful
"navigators,"-rough, huge men in ankle boots, tarry
smock-frocks rolled up round their bodies, and red
and blue worsted night-caps on their heads. These
men's faces, she said, had a sunburnt, lawless ex-
pression; their hands were huge and horny with
handling heavy ropes and hauling along heavy boats;
they walked with a heavy rolling gait, and had not
at all the look of honest men. The two little girls
began to say their prayers the moment any of these
forms came in view; their knees trembled and their
teeth almost chattered in their heads. But no evil
befell them; they reached Rugeley, and took their
stand patiently beside the little old-fashioned wooden
market-house there. Perhaps their ducks had no-
thing about them to attract purchasers, or perhaps
they were slow to offer them; however that might
be, other people's ducks were sold and theirs re-
mained in their baskets. They were told by their
mother that they were to get half-a-crown a couple,
and by no means were they to bring them back; no-
body, however, was inclined to give half-a-crown in
exchange for their ducks. They grew tired and
hungry, and sat down on the steps of the market-
house to eat their bread and cheese; and then
quenched their thirst from the little pump beside the
market-house. Afternoon came, and people were
beginning to go home; they waited till everybody





NANNY AT HOME. 4V
was gone, and then, hopeless and dispirited, set off
back again.
Evening seemed to come on unusually early that
day. The idea of the "cut-side" at dusk was horrible;
they hastened onward as fast as they could; the
ducks were heavy and they were tired; they seemed
to make no way at all. At length they reached the
canal; all was solitary, and the water looked dark
and gloomy; owls and night-hawks flew about in the
plantations, and cried dismally. The children said,
almost with a groan, what would become of them if
they should meet a navigator! and every turn of the
bank was terrible in the dread of its revealing one in
the distance. In the midst of these horrible appre-
hensions they heard sounds behind them, which
made them look round-and there oh fearful spec-
tacle !-were two navigators on what she called a
" shog-trot," keeping up the while a low talk.
"What will become of us ? ejaculated the awe.
struck children. To put down the ducks and fly for
their lives was the first, and perhaps most natural
thought; but fear of their mother's displeasure pre-
vented their acting upon it. They ran with all their
might; the ducks fluttered about and quacked, and
made a noise which would betray them to their
pursuers. They were but a quarter of a mile now
from the tunnel, that most awful place on the whole
canal, into which they might be dragged and horribly
murdered, and hidden for ever in darkness. They
must make their escape now or never! The canal
turned round a woody point, and here they hoped to
hide themselves. When they rounded the point, a
watery piece of ground, or rather a shallow pool,





60 NANNY AT HOME.
overgrown with broad-leaved marsh-grass and water-
plants, lay between them and the fence of a planta-
tion which was full of brushwood. Down they
plunged from the canal-bank without a moment's
consideration, right into the water, mid-leg deep, and
the reeds almost met above their heads. There was
no time to think; Betty's ducks quacked and scram-
bled about in the basket.
Keep your ducks still !" said Nanny.
But the ducks would not be kept still; the sound
of the navigators' feet was heard, and the murmur of
their low, gruff voices which boded no good. The
ducks must be silenced ; so Nanny, quick as thought,
set down her basket and wrung the necks of those in
her sister's. On they rushed through the water,
through the plantation hedge, and down into the
brushwood, just as the navigators came up.
They must be gone in here," said they, stopping
short; the girls' hearts almost ceased to beat for
terror. Yes, they must be gone in here," repeated
one man. Let 's fetch up the dog," said the other,
"and he 'll hunt them out."--" Good I returned the
other, shortly; and they set off back again, at the
same short trot as before. Their heavy and iron-
heeled boots sounded on the canal-bank, and the
girls had hardly strength to lift their heads. They
looked upon themselves as lost creatures, and began
to cry. Supposing even that they reached home safe,
what would their mother say to find the ducks not
only unsold, but those in Betty's basket dead They
were almost out of their senses, when the snuffing of
a dog near to them, and a short, sharp bark, filled
them afresh with new terror; the men must be corn#





NANNY AT HOME. 61
back again, and with them the dog, and they should
be taken at once. They screamed in a frantic horror,
and the litt p dog barked loudly, and the next moment
a tall, quiet-looking gentleman, powdered, and in a
complete suit of black, stood beside them. What
were they doing here ?" he asked gravely. The
girls looked one at another, and said not a word ;
they had been almost frightened to death, and Nanny
declared that the cold perspiration ran in streams
down her face, and her tongue clave to the roof of her
mouth. However, after the question had been once
or twice repeated, and that without the gentleman's
seeming to lose his temper, they were able to tell the
cause of their terror, and their sad disaster about the
ducks which they had been obliged to kill.
You cannot reach home to-night," said the
gentleman, gravely; so come with me." They
had no fear whatever of his doing them any harm,
so they took up their baskets and followed him.
And now that all immediate sense of danger was
removed, the thought of the dead ducks haunted
them fearfully. What would their mother say ?-.
the very thought of their trouble made them cry
afresh.
The gentleman stopped and asked what they were
crying about ; they told him; he made no reply, but
smiling a little, as if to himself, he walked on, and
they followed him.
They went on and on, for a couple of miles at
least, but where to they had not the slightest idea.
At length the plantation opened, and they came into
a park-like space, where old trees grew singly or in
groups, and beautiful herds of deer were quietly





52 NANNY AT HOME.
grazing. The gentleman went on, and they, with
their two baskets, and their tired feet, and frightened
hearts, trudged after. Anon, and they entered broad
gravel walks among shrubbery, which here and there
opened into the most beautiful flower-gardens. The
sun was just setting, and its slanting rays threw the
most dazzling radiance over everything. The next
turn brought them directly to the front of a house,
which looked to them grander even than the Cathedral
at Lichfield. Tall marble columns, broad flights of
steps; strange-looking gigantic plants in vases; long
rows of lofty, shining windows, draped with crim-
son and gold-coloured curtains, quite bewildered
them; they said not a word to one another; they
felt as if they should never speak again, and on they
went, with their baskets and their dusty feet, and
their shabby little bonnets, past all this grandeur.
Presently they came to the other side of the house,
and winding among shrubbery they entered a door
which led through many passages, where rows and
rows of bells hung, into a room, where sat an old lady
-the lady of this grand mansion as they at first ima-
gined-behind a great figured screen, before a table
upon which stood seven tall loaves of sugar, while she
seemed to be breaking up an eighth into a large bowl
which she held on her knee. She had a flowered
gown" on, and a fine muslin cap, and a fine linen
apron, and had something very stately about her. The
children curtseyed down to the very ground, whilst
the gentleman said something very rapidly to her in
an under tone, to which, standing up, she replied
merely, Yes, sir; yes, sir; and then, without
taking any more notice of them, he went out. The





NANNY AT HOME. 63
old lady put on her spectacles, and surveyed the
children from head to foot for some seconds, and then,
taking off the spectacles again, bade them set down
their baskets and take off their bonnets.
How shall we ever get home to-night! exclaimed
they both in terror. "You will stop here to-night," said
the old lady, and again bade them do as she had said.
They felt frightened, and, as if they dared not dis-
obey, put down their baskets and took off their bon-
nets. She then made them sit down and relate to
her their adventures; and when she heard that they
had asked half-a-crown a couple for their ducks, she
interrupted them by exclaiming that it was a shame-
ful price, and she wondered how they could ever have
the face to ask it. They felt as if they could not say
another word, they were so much abashed; they
looked at one another, and then at the ducks, and
Were ready to cry ; they wished that they were but
at home, and felt that they were a very long way off.
After they had finished their relation, the old lady
gave them something to eat for their suppers; what
it was they did not know; but it was something so
very good, that they ate of it till they were ashamed
and could eat no more. They were then taken into
a little room, which was on the ground floor, and
which she called the page's-room, where was a bed,
and they were told that they must sleep, but not
before their baskets, emptied of the ducks, were
brought into the room and set down, with their money,
as they were told, safely pinned in the cloth, which
had been laid in one basket because the bottom was
bad. The room seemed to them very lofty and
grand. There was some gilding on the bed and the
P2





64 NANNV AT HOME,
window cornice, and a deal of fine coloured drapery.
Wondering whatever sort of a book it was, a page of
which needed a bed like a human creature, they
undressed themselves and lay down, and after awhile
dropped asleep.
But their sleep was not easy, and at length Nanny
woke. All was still in the house, and it was just
getting light in the early morning. She felt very
poorly, so sick and badly," she said, as she had
never felt before.
Oh, Betty," said she, shaking her sister, wake,
for I am so ill !" Betty woke in an instant, nay, she
was half awake already, and she too confessed that
she felt very queer. What were they to do ? They
got up and looked out of the window. Their little
chamber seemed to project forward, and gave them a
view down the long, grand front. There, as on the
last night, was the long row of lofty windows, the
marble pillars, and the broad steps.
"Oh, I wish I was at home! groaned Nanny,
now lying on the floor in an agony of strange pain.
I do think we are poisoned," said Betty, it
must be that stuff that we had last night, that had
been boiled in a brass pan! "
Let's get out of the window, and into the fresh
air," said Nanny, who now felt ready to faint. They
dressed themselves, but not without difficulty, and
then got out of the window.
Let 's go home, let's go home as fast as we can !"
said poor Nanny. If we shall ever reach home,"
said Betty, dolefully, who had now mounted the
window-sill. "Bring the baskets with you," said
Nanny, and Betty, who had forgotten them, slipped





NANNY AT HOME. 00
back for them, as much frightened as if she had
been a thief, lest the people of the house should come
in and seize upon her.
They were now both of them out in the fresh air-
but it did them no good at first; they were dizzy, and
faint, and weak, and so out of spirits and frightened
lest they were poisoned, that they both began to cry.
Oh I wish we were but at home !" said they,
and went on as fast as their legs would carry them.
In awhile they felt better; their quick movement
and the fresh air restored them; and then the
thought occurred what would the people say when
they found them gone, and gone too in that sneaking
kind of way, and they never could know why they
had done so. They knew not what to do exactly;
they were by this time half-way back to the canal
by the way they had come the last evening, which
was very direct. They felt as if they were afraid of
going back, so on they went, and reached the scene
of their last night's terror. They flew along the
canal-side, but saw nothing; and then the rest of
the way was easy and familiar to them. They
reached home about six o'clock, just as their
mother was setting out on her way to Rugeley to
find them. It was a long and strange history that
they had to tell; now their mother grew very angry,
and now she laughed; but when she heard what the
old lady at the hall had said about half-a-crown
being a shameful price for each couple of her ducks,
she went into a great passion, and demanded, 1" Well,
what had she paid?" The children had never
thought about that, and then, quite frightened and
anxious, unpinned the corner of the towel to see





56 FAMILY PURCHASES.
what really had been put in, and then what was theih
astonishment to find not two half-crowns, but four !
The lady must have thought that the ducks were
half-a-crown a-piece exclaimed the mother. The
children protested that they had said half-a-crown a
couple. The mother said that the father must go
over and make it all right.
"And did he go?" our young readers will inquire
naturally; we asked the same question; but Nanny
did not seem to know, she said that she supposed he
did, but neither she nor Betty ever rightly knew
what place it was at which they had been-for
Hagley and Worseley Halls, the only two which
lay in this direction, at which they had ever been,
were very different to the fine palace at which they
had slept.
Nanny did not sing, but she had a wild kind of
recitative, in which, while she rocked her body back-
wards and forwards, she would pass hours in thus
chanting old popular songs and ballads. She was a
sort of humble Bishop Percy, and she knew by heart
every song that ever swung in the wind on a ballad-
monger's stall. She would often illustrate her songs
by narratives, and her narratives by songs.
But enough of Nanny; we will now turn to
something else.


CHAPTER VI.
FAMILY PURCHASES.
A YEAR or two after her son's death, our neigh-
bour, Mrs. Gilbert, also died It was, as on the occa-





FAMILY PURCHASES. 57
sion of her son's funeral, also a bright summer day
on which she was buried. Our father was one of
those who attended her to the grave, and like all the
other mourners received also his hatband and scarf,
whilst a large packet of burial-cake was sent to the
house, and, of course, enjoyed by us. That, how-
ever, which made Mrs. Gilbert's death most interest-
ing to us children, was that our mother told us that
our father had bought her house, and that we should
go with her to look over it, and to walk in the
garden. In that garden I had never been, though it
adjoined ours, nor had Anna, excepting on that me-
morable occasion when she crept through the fence.
It was a marvellously old-fashioned garden, with
edges of box to the walks a foot high. There were
all kinds of old-fashioned plants in it, vervain, and
marsh-mallow, and hellebore, and spurge, and tansy.
That which. however, appeared to us the strangest,
was the being in that garden into which we had so
often looked, and from it seeing how our garden
looked-both so familiar, yet now seen from such
new points of view.
Our mother told us, that great changes were con-
templated by our father in this garden ; it was to be
laid to our own, the separating fence removed, and
thus all this space would be ours. It was the
grandest idea that ever had entered our heads, we
could talk of nothing else. And how would it be?
And when would it be ? Would it he done this
summer. or next winter? We were quite trouble-
some with our questions, not only that day but the
next, and the next after that for a week, till at last
our mother, wearied by our inquiries, said she was








FAMILY PURCHASES.


sorry that she had told us anything about it, for thus
she saw that she should have no rest. We were
rebuked, and asked no more about it for the present,
though we thought as much about it as ever.
This same summer our father bought a deal of
land; the sloping, pleasant fields opposite, and some
land also two miles off, beyond those fields, as far off
as we could see. It was an infinite delight to us to
walk to these two purchases in a summer's evening,
as we often did with our parents; everybody thought
that there were no walks in the neighbourhood so
pleasant as these. Those sloping fields opposite we
had looked at ever since we had looked at any thing;
but until they were our own, we had never been at
the top of them. The top of those fields was very
remarkable to me in my very earliest years. There
stood there what seemed to me an immense elephant,
or monstrous beast, thus-












I never saw it as anything else. I was not at all
afraid of it, for I saw it every day. Once, I said to
a visitor, when in a very talkative humour, that a


58







FAMILY PURCHASES.


great black elephant always stood opposite to our
house. My parents reproved me for saying that
which was not true. I stoutly maintained that it
was so; my firmness seemed like wilful obstinacy,
and I was reproved severely; but I would not with-
draw my assertion, and my parents, grieving to see
such perversity, thought it much better to let the
subject drop. This affair sunk deep in my mind.
I saw the elephant every day as plain as could be,
but I dared not recur to the subject, because it had
given so much displeasure. The fields, however,
were bought, and then we went to the very top of
then, and as I ascended the bill my elephant was
gone, there was nothing at all but two dark Scotch
firs and a slender ash tree growing beside them, thus-













The whole thing was disenchanted, and when I
returned home, though I still by a stretch of imagi-
nation could see the elephant, it gradually became
three distinct trees. I never, as I remember, men-
tioned it to any one, not even to Anna, but it made a
deep im pression on my mind, and has given me great


59





FAMILY PURCHASES.


charity with the exaggerations and even the apparent
falsehood of children.
A footpath was now made across the meadow at
the bottom of the garden; a little rustic bridge was
thrown across the stream, and almost every evening
some one or other, if not the whole family, strolled
out for a walk in this direction. The evening was
always the time for recreation with our family.
When we did not go out into these fields, our parents
took a drive some five or six miles into the beautiful
country which surrounded the town, and I and my
sister alternately accompanied them. There was a
little turm-down seat in the gig, upon which we were
seated between their knees. I always enjoyed these
drives, and should have enjoyed them much more
had it not been for the conversations of which I was
the auditor. Strange that the conversation of two
affectionate parents should trouble a little child, but
it was so. My father every morning read the news-
papers, and in the evening detailed their contents to
my mother. Napoleon was at that time in the full
career of his victories. Invasion even of England
was talked of; timid people dreaded it as possible;
prudent ones talked of preparations against it; brave
ones of resisting it to the death. My parents talked of
the horrors which every day saw perpetrated in the
crimsoned path of the conqueror; blood and fire, and
outrage of every kind. They talked of this, and then
of its perhaps coming home to our own doors; and
then they counselled with each other what was to be
done, supposing Napoleon, or Buonaparte, as everybody
then called him, really should come. Fight, England
would to a man, that was certain. The sea-coasts would


60





FAMILY PURCHASES.


first feel the scourge of his presence; they talked of
the probable point of his 1 iding, of the probable
resistance he would meet with ; and of course until he
had effected a landing and beaten back, if that were
possible, the collected force that would oppose him, he
needed not to be looked for in the midland counties.
Living thus, as we did, in the very heart of the king-
domn, we might regard ourselves as among the safest
people there, but still, after all that the conqueror
had already done, who could tell what it might be
the will of the Almighty to permit him yet to do ?
Thus our parents talked to each other. We, as
children, knew the histories of the Israelitish and
Jewish wars; they were to us deeply interesting
but horrible relations, and we now shuddered to think
that such things as were recorded to have happened
in them would perhaps be done on our own thresh-
olds. I told Anna what I heard, and she told me
in turn all that she heard, and thus together we
wrought ourselves up to such a pitch of terror that
our very sleep was broken by it. The worst of it
was that our grandfather, and another old gentleman
or two, who were great readers of prophecies of all
kinds, were always coming to our house and tell-
ing what they thought and expected, and bringing
pamphlets and printed sheets of paper--old and
new prophecies, visions, and strange astrological
calculations and revelations-all of which applied
as they believed to the present times. I have not
even now lost the feeling of awe with which I
heard or read Christ's prophetic account of the
siege and taking of Jerusalem.
We children, of course, never took part in these
G


61





i2 FAMILY PURCHASES.
conversations; but we drank in and pondered on
every word. My mother's callers talked always on
the same subjects; wars and bloody battles, and
death in battle, and being taken prisoner and sub-
jected to all kinds of sufferings and horrors in the
French prisons, were the constant themes of dis-
course. One lady, I remember, related how she
had formed all her plans in case the French got
possession of the town; all the plate and valuables
were to be secured in closets in the walls, which
were to be papered over so that no door or opening
should be visible; the family was to be hidden in
the cellars, where provision could be stored, and
where already was plenty of wine. Another lady
said that her little girl was so glad that they lived in
a town, because it would be so much pleasanter to
die in a crowd!
During all these terrors, however, the new pur-
chases were made, and great was the pleasure which
they afforded. We wondered and wondered when
the two gardens would be laid together, but new
people came to the house as my father s tenants, and
the winter came on without any further change.
But I must not omit here to mention one little
incident which occurred to my sister, and which
made a deep impression upon her. She had, during
the latter part of good Mrs. Gilbert's life, been
accustomed to receive so many flowers from her
garden, that she began to look upon those which
grew near the gap in the hedge almost as her own.
At the bottom of the border and within reach of the
gap there grew this autumn a very fine prince's-
feather; it was a new flower to us, and greatly





FAMILY PUfRCHAES. 63
excited poor Anna's admiration and desire of posses-
sion. The new neighbours were a grave gentleman,
and his wife who had infirm health, and but rarely
came into the garden ; he, on the contrary, walked
much in it, with a solemn step and in a sad-coloured
dressing-gown, tan leather slippers, and wig to match,
A very different person was this to the kind Mrs. Gil.
bert; he never once vouchsafed a look, much less a
Word to the little girl who stood with longing eyes
glancing at the fine purple prince's-feather. In vain
the poor child uanoeuvred ; he walked on and took
no notice of her. The prince's-feather grew more
beautiful every day ; she could think of nothing
else. If Mrs. Gilbert were alive she would give it
to me," thought she; all the flowers that grew
there used to be mine; if I took it he would never
miss it; and of all the flowers that ever grew I
should like to have that! The neighbour in the
sad-coloured dressing-gown was in his own house--
his wife was in bed-there was nobody near-she
put her hand through the hedge and touched it-it
nodded and shook, and looked grander than ever--
she broke it off, and drew it to her. But no sooner
was the flower on this side the hedge, than a new
feeling sprang up in her heart-" If anybody had
seen her and What should she do with it now ? "
She dared not to take it into the house, or show it
anybody--it was no longer beautiful-she wished it
was again growing on its own stem. She wished she
could only get rid of it. It was a miserable posses-
sion. She hid herself in an old garden-house and
began to cry. But crying did little good; the hate-
ful flower was before her, and the fear was in her





04 FAMILY PURCHASES.
mind that the decapitated stem would reveal the
theft to the severe neighbour. For the first time in
her life a sense of guilt lay on her soul, and she was
miserable; in an agony of remorse she tore the
flower to pieces and hid it among a heap of rub-
bish ; but it was many days before she was restored
to peace with herself, nor did she again ever venture
to peep through the gap at the flower-bed, nor to be
seen in the garden when the neighbour was taking
his daily walks.
During the winter we had a large party. Large
parties were very rare things with us, but when they
occurred they afforded us a great deal of pleasure.
In the first place, there were many good things made,
of which, sooner or later, we came in for our share;
but on this occasion a still greater pleasure was pro-
mised us-we were to sit up to supper, we had never
done such a thing in our lives before ; at eight o'clock
punctually we had always been in bed, but now came
a noble exception; the principal cause of this was
that some guests were invited from the Forest, who
would bring two little daughters of our own age
with them. They had to come six miles, and were
to stay all night. A deep snow fell the day before
the party, but nobody thought much of that; the
next night, however, one of those great snows fell
which were then not so uncommon; the very doors
and lower windows were snowed up. Everything
seemed hushed and silent as death till men came
and dug an entrance to the different houses, and
carried away the snow from the streets in carts.
The roads were all buried in snow, and there was
neither coming to nor going from the town till late





FAMILY PURCHASES. (5
in the afternoon. We were sadly anxious about the
expected guests; our mother had no expectations
that our friends from the Forest could reach us ; we,
however, would not give them up, and made ready
all our little preparations for the children's eiter
tainment; and in the afternoon, as our mother had
predicted, a servant came over on horseback to say
that it was impossible for any carriage on trat day
to drive between us and them. The disappointment
was greater than we could express, and to console us,
our mother said that, though we had no guests our-
selves, we should be permitted all the same to sit
up, if we would keep awake and be quiet. We
easily made this promise, for we knew that we could
keep it, and then bore our disappointment as well as
we could. The sitting-rooms were lighted up; the
curtains drawn, the sofa wheeled towards the fire;
the tables were all set out in visiting trim, and every-
thing to our eyes looked festal. We thought our
mother splendid in her pale-coloured silk gown,
and we ourselves no less so, as, appareled in our
best, we sat on the stools, one on each side the
fire, with our hair as smooth as brush could make
it, and our hands laid together on our knees. The
company came; what a buzz and warmth there
seemed to be in the room, and how wonderfully
good the tea was, and the tea-cakes and the thin
bread and butter! Children in families where com-
pany comes but now and then, really and thoroughly
enjoy it when it does come. What a luxury to
such children is even thin bread and butter!
It was now after our usual bed-time, and to us it
seemed as if grand and wonderful doings must go on
G2





WP FAMILY PURCHASES.
every night after we were in bed. Our parents often
had a few friends with them to spend the evening,
and, forgetting that things on such a grand scale as
this night's entertainment really hardly occurred once
a year, it seemed to us as if the movements of an
unknown and brighter existence began after we were
in bed. The candles looked so white and burned so
brightly ; the fire was so cheerful, everything looked
so gay We sat together quietly, and people said
that they had never seen such good children. When
we felt a little sleepy, we took out our conversation
cards and sat down to play at a little table by our-
selves. There was a very grave and religious person
in the company, who it seems had the greatest horror
of cards. I remember his coming up to our table
and watching us play, but without saying one word
to us; when he remarked, as if to himself, A nice
amusement- but pity 'tis that they are called cards!"
We did not at all know what he meant; nor did I
really understand till some years afterwards.
But that which more than anything else made
this evening remarkable to us was, that our father
brought out plans, and estimates, and various rolls of
paper, and talked with his friends of the alterations
which he was going to make as soon as the spring
and settled weather began. And thus we learnt that
not only the next garden was going to be laid to
ours, but our own house was actually going to be
altered. Such an idea as this had never entered our
heads; we put aside our cards and listened with all
our senses alive. We could talk of nothing for days
but the alterations which were going to begin in
spring; the anticipations of these, and the certain





TOWN CUSTOMS. V7
prospect now of the two gardens so soon coming
together, drove for the present all thoughts of the
terrible Buonaparte out of our heads.




CHAPTER VII.
TOWN CUSTOMS.

Two or three of these were very interesting to us;
and first and foremost that which was for the first
time this winter quite a family affair : some of the
land which our father had bought was subject to a
yearly payment of money, or a dole," as it was
called, to the poor. Numberless were the applica-
tions which were made by the poor to our parents on
this behalf, and our mother, perhaps, in consequence
of this, began about this time to inquire more than
ever into their state. She often took one or both of
us with her on these occasions, and we began to take
the most lively interest about our poor and distressed
townspeople. Our mother made observations on
paper on all she saw, and then, according to their
wants, they were to receive a portion of the dole.
In another distribution of money we also took a
lively interest, even from the time when we were
very little children indeed. This was on the occasion
of begging Monday, or the first Monday before
Christmas, when the poor of the parish had the
privilege of going from house to house, where they
received money or provisions; such as potatoes,
flour, or meal, &c. Originally, probably, this dia.





6B TOWN CUSTOMS.
pensing to the poor had been general; now it was
only confined to certain wealthy or old housekeepers,
who, for charity's sake, or for the sake of the family
custom, still continued it. It had always been given
in our family, and our mother was no way inclined
to discontinue it, and we children took a most lively
interest in it. On the preceding Saturday there
came from one of the tradespeople a large basket full
of pence, and we were up early on the Monday
morning to be the dispensers of it. After breakfast,
our mother, in her bonnet and cloak and gloves,
stood at the open door, and we two, one on each side,
the one as her right hand and the other as her left,
stood and gave, according to her directions, more or
less, as she knew the applicants to be deserving or in
distress.
Many and many were the blessings that both we
and our mother received on that day. Pity is it
that such a good old custom should ever fall into
disuse.
The third custom of the town was not by any
means as praiseworthy as this; it was the annual
bull-baiting-a practice which our father combated
for many years, and at last succeeded in entirely
putting an end to. This bull-baiting occurred in the
autumn. At the fair at that season a handsome bull
was bought, and a day or two before the baiting was
led round the town decorated with ribands, and
attended by a rude rabble of men and boys. The
patrons of the sport on this occasion gave money,
some more and some less; at our house, of course,
nothing was ever given. We watched with a kind
of horror the passing of this procession from our





TOWN CUSTOMS. !O
nursery window, and Nanny, who seemed not to
have by any means the abhorrence of the thing
which we had been taught to feel, took the liveliest
interest in it, and even once, to the great scandal of
the whole household, threw out a riband for the
bull's horns. On the morning of the bull-baiting,
towards four or five o'clock, the inhabitants of the
town were awoke in their beds by the bull's chain
being struck violently against the walls of their
houses and on the pavement before them. In the
early, chill grey of the morning it came-a sort of
yell and a banging of this heavy iron chain, and a
rattling, and a grinding, another yell, and then they
went on.
Again the bull, decorated with garlands and
ribands, was led round ,the town, accompanied by
all the rabble of the neighbourhood, hallooing and
shouting like so many savages. We always watched
the procession go by, and always felt a kind of curd-
ling horror. At ten o'clock the bull was fixed to the
stake in the market-place, and such of the higher
class of the inhabitants as patronised the sport occu-
pied the upper windows of the houses, and the
market-place itself was thronged with people, leav-
ing a space in the middle for the poor creature and
his tormentors.
Whilst we were playing in the garden on the
three days that this lasted we heard the barking and
the yelling of the dogs, and the roar of the bull, and
the shouts of the people. Sometimes, too, the creature
broke his chain, and ran furiously through the streets,
driving everything before him, and often doing much
damage. If the bull came as far as our house, we






never failed to see it, for to us, of course, this was a
very fearful, but interesting spectacle, and furnished
enough to talk of for a week.
After the third day's sport the bull was shot.
This seemed to me like a sort of murder, and I
remember very innocently saying what I really felt,
that I wondered that old William Woolley, who
shot the bull, was not afraid of being haunted by
his ghost. I said this gravely, meaning what I said,
before grown-up people, and I could not conceive
why everybody burst into a fit of laughter.




CHAPTER VIII.
GUESTS.
IN the early spring we were told that we were
shortly to have some playfellows, for that a distant
relation of our father's was coming to remove with
his family to this town, and until they were settled
would pay us a visit. It was a great happiness for
us to think of playfellows; we could talk of nothing
else. At length the day came when they were
expected ; they were to be with us at dinner; the
guest chambers were prepared for them, and we had
our new and best printed frocks on for dinner.
Their name was Sliepperley, and the children were
a boy and a girl; we wondered indeed how we should
ever manage with the boy. At the expected time
they came. They were unlike any people that we
had ever seen; from the first moment there was





QUESTS. 71
something quite overwhelming about them. The
father and mother were large people, who talked
loud, and some way or other gave one the idea of
taking up a great deal of room. As he walked up
and down our sitting-room, holding his head very
high, he made one feel how short and narrow it
was, and seemed to bring down the very ceiling. He
was one of those persons who depreciates one's posses-
sions. Hurriedly glancing out of our window, he
said to our father, that he had a pretty little look
out-a pretty little place altogether; but that the
rooms were small and low; and then he turned
round again and began to walk, and held up his
head as if he had hardly room to breathe. Every-
thing looked fresh and nice," he said, "in our house;
but things always did so in the country," he added,
as if afraid of complimenting us in any way. The
wife lay on the sofa without changing her travelling
dress, and declared that she could eat none of the
dinner that stood on the table; she had a very
delicate appetite," she said; the breast of a chicken
or so, she might have eaten, but lamb and such
things she could not touch."
Our father and mother exchanged glances; they
were both bursting with chagrin and anger, but they
said nothing; and our mother, who was naturally so
polite to all her guests, did not even offer her a cup
of chocolate.
If our parents had vexation with their guests, so
had we with ours. The boy was Bob; a fair com-
plexioned boy, with prominent eyes and a large
mouthN and was full of all kinds of mischievous
pranks. His sister, Rosaline, rushed into the bed-





72 OUEST&.
room, locked the door, and began to tell us how Bob
was the plague of her life; and all this time Bob was
kicking and thumping at the door, and demanding
admittance.
You'd better undo the door, miss, and give me
my things," said he; "or I 'll make you repent of it.
I '1 tell about you and the port wine, miss, if you
don't."
On this Rosaline unlocked the door and threw out
the bag which contained what he wanted, and then
hastily re-locking the door, she began to take off her
things; but long before she was ready the active Bob
was heard loudly whistling down in the garden.
Rosaline was a handsome, well-grown girl, with a
deal of light-brown hair and a fair complexion ; she
wore trousers, which we did not; and went with one
shoe down at the heel, which was a thing we never
had dared to do. We thought her very free-spoken
and very much at her ease; we felt almost as if we
were the strangers and she at home ; as if we had
nothing to say before her, while she was remarkably
fluent and unabashed. We could not tell whether
we liked her or not.
Rosaline's father thought that we were very short of
our age ; made his daughter measure against us, and
found, as he had anticipated, that she was taller
than either of us, although in age she was exactly
between us.
Master Bob was not forthcoming at dinner-time ;
he was found among the barrels which were in the
yard in preparation for brewing, and came in five
minutes after we had begun. On this his father rated
him soundly; called him Sir," and said he would





GUESTS. 73
teach him better, or he would flog him to within an
inch of his life. Thenmother, who lay on the sofa,
interfered for him, and said that he had so much
spirit, it was quite excusable. Our guests seemed to
have all the talking to themselves at dinner ; our
parents, like us, were unusually silent, and our guests
perhaps thought them uncourteous, and therefore
talked to each other.
After dinner we children went into the garden,
and Bob, with sundry winks of his large eyes, and
upward nodding of his chin, invited us all to follow
him into the yard, to those very barrels which had
occupied him before dinner. The barrels were stand-
ing without bungs, and were full of water. He
drew his sister on first, and pointed into one, when
she exclaimed, "Oh, for shame, Bob, how could you!"
" It is a new, patent bung," said he; "and now you
look," added he, drawing us on also.
We looked; and oh what shall describe our
horror there was our own tortoise-shell kitten
crammed in as a bung! We could hardly believe
our eyes: of course the kitten was drowned ; it was a
deed of wanton cruelty which exceeded all our ideas
of possibility. We cried and would not be comforted;
" and made," Rosaline said, "such a piece of work
about it," that she took her brother's part, and
endeavoured to make light of it; but her attempts
only made matters worse: we stormed and raged, I
have no doubt, famously, and treating our guests
with very little ceremony, told them plainly that
we wished they had never come.
Leaving my sister with them in the garden, I
went in to make complaints, as seemed to me no
H





74 GUESTS.
more than right, to our parents. Our father had
taken Mr. Shepperley to see his new purchases: the
lady was asleep, and our mother was alone. She
heard my story with what I thought very becoming
indignation; but desired me to say nothing of it to
our father ; this was a very unusual injunction from
her, and it struck me as singular. There was no
use, she said, in making our father angry with
our guests ; she did not think they would stay long,
and she desired while they were here that we would
try to keep peace, and she herself would speak to
Bob.
Our father showed Mr. Shepperley all his pur-
chases, pointed out whatever he thought worthy of
observation throughout his little demesne; took him
to the part of the garden where he thought the best
view was to be obtained ; showed him how the fence
between the two gardens was to come down, and
opened to him sundry plans which floated in his
mind for the future, more especially regarding the
piece of ground which adjoined his late purchase of
Mrs. Gilbert's property, of which he designed to
become the possessor; more especially because, as the
situation was beautiful, he feared it might sometime
be purchased for building land, and would thus
entirely ruin the view from the house, which he
liked so much, as well as take from the whole place
that character of retirement in which he so much
delighted. All this I heard, as, having not again
joined my sister and our new friends, I found my
father and Mr. Shepperley in the garden after having
returned from their walk. I dipped my hand quietly
into my father's, and without saying a word walked





GUESTS. f0
along with them, listening with delighted amazement
to all that was said. The idea of our possessing that
large piece of ground beyond what had been Mrs.
Gilbert's, was something quite new and magnificent.
My father seemed to have had it all arranged long ago,
for he drew his memorandum-book out of his pocket,
and his pencil, and made a plan of the whole place
as he should like it to be sometime. Here would be
shrubbery; there lawn; here he would bring in
water; down that side he would build a fruit-wall;
here he would have a conservatory ; and down at the
far extremity he would have a little farm-yard and
a gardener's house. Mr. Shepperley looked very
large, and listened with much apparent interest; this
subject was our dear father's hobby. His passion
was to make a perfect little place, according to his
notions-and how natural is such a desire?-and
nothing made him so happy as to have a listener.
To me the subject was quite as interesting as to him-
self, and therefore I, perhaps, felt the more angry
when Mr. Shepperley suddenly interrupted him in
the very midst of his subject, by turning abruptly
to me and saying, Well, little Twopenny, and what
has that scapegrace of mine being doing ? Has he
been pulling your wig, or breaking yourdolls' noses ?"
I was quite taken by surprise ; I did not like to be
called "little Twopenny ;" nor did I dare to say
what Bob had been doing; besides which I thought
that he was very rude for interrupting my father. I
did not say one word, but hung down my head, and
felt that I was looking very foolish.
Your mamma should teach you to speak when
you are spoken to, miss," said Mr. Shepperley.





76 GUESTS.
Cannot you speak, Mary ? said my father in a
tone of vexation, as I thought. I could not. I held
my head down lower than ever; the blood seemed
tingling up into my ears, and I felt that I looked
like a simpleton, and would have given anything to
have been away. No more was said to me on the
subject: Mr. Shepperley and my father talked of
something else, but from that time I never liked
him.
It was sometime before the Shepperleys left us.
It was a long time before they could suit themselves
with a house; my father gave up looking for any-
thing for them at last, and we had workmen in the
house beginning the long-talked-of alterations before
they really went. Our parents felt a great relief
when they weregone; there was a show of friendship on
the part of the Shepperleys towards us, but in reality
there was none. They were at last offended that
they wero obliged to go. Our parents had introduced
them to many of their oldest friends in the town, and
with these they made vehement leagues of friendship:
there were such visiting; such making-up of parties ;
such pic-nicing here and there all that summer.
People were so in love with them; talked to us of
nothing but them and their doings: they quite cast
us into the shade ; and had not this been a very busy
year in many ways, our parents would perhaps have
felt that kind of annoyance which on such occasions
makes the heart, as it were, bitter. It is a bad
thing," said our mother notwithstanding, to place a
third person between oneself and one's friends and
she said that which was very true.





77


CHAPTER IX.
AN EVENTFUL YEAR.

OUR house was now literally turned inside out.
The garden was full of old bricks and lumber of all
kinds; we had no use of any of the rooms towards the
garden. We lived in the front parlour which my
grandfather had formerly occupied, and had not,
through the whole summer, a spare bed to offer to
any one. My father was quite in his element. He
entered body and soul into everything which could
improve his place. He was with the workmen
directing and inspecting all day long, and as he was
with them so much, so were we too. The sitting-
room floors were lowered, and thus the rooms were
made more lofty, and new and modern windows were
put in. We took the greatest interest in all that
went forward; we learnt the use of all the workmen's
tools; the various names for their different kinds of
work ; and even made essays at joiner's-work our-
selves; we made save-alls, little boxes, dolls' tables,
and little houses. It was an active, happy summer,
and we had as much delight in the alterations as our
father himself. Our mother went out very little all the
summer except for the customary evening-drive, and
then as usual one of us accompanied them. A per-
fectly happy summer it would have been, had it not
been as usual for the talk of the French.
Run down to the bottom of the garden and see
S2





78 AN EVENTFUL YEAR.
if the French are not coming over the New Bridge !'
was the often-repeated ruse of old James Rotherham,
the joiner, when we bothered him for his tools or
were in his way.
The French are coining; are really and truly
coming "said James Dumerlo, the half-silly painter,
in the wantonness of a mischievous spirit. They
have burnt Lichfield down to the ground, and have
killed all the women and children, and will be here
to-night or to-morrow morning at farthest! And
these threats, though they had proved themselves
false so many times, never failed, in conjunction with
the gloomy conversation we heard continually from
persons whose opinions we respected, to cast an
unpleasant damp on our spirits.
After many weeks of discomfort, the house began
to get into some degree of order; the roughest lum-
ber was cleared away ; the coarsest work was done;
the floors were all down; the windows in, and the
new doors hung. One could get an idea of what
the rooms would be when they were finished; the
plasterers came, and the finer painters; the little
lobby was floored with its diagonal squares of marble,
and our parents began busily to talk about the new
papers and new carpets, and the new bed for the
best room.
Whilst things are progressing to this state, we
must interrupt ourselves to mention what had in the
meantime occurred. Old Mrs. Carpenter, who lived
on our left hand, died, and her body went up to
London in a stately hearse to be buried; and shortly
afterwards was the great sale by auction, not only of
the furniture, plate, linen, and pictures, but of the





AN EVENTFUL YEAR. 79
house and the whole property altogether. I never
heard that our father's desire for purchasing ever
extended to this place, or towards the left of our own
house at all. Our mother did not even attend the
old lady's sale, nor go, as the rest of the gentlewomen
of the town did, to look over the house and all that it
contained. One morning, however, before the sale
we were told that a gentleman and lady were ex.
pected to take luncheon at our house. They came;
he a stately looking man in volunteer uniform; she
a most quiet and elegant woman, and with them
came two sweet children about our own age, a boy
and girl. We were charmed; we took them into
the garden; into the one which had been Mrs.
Gilbert's: the fence was taken down, and though
we have unaccountably omitted to say so before,
had been so ever since spring, and now, like the
house, was beginning to get quite in order. We
told the children, with whom we became directly
familiar, that our father meant to buy the next piece
of land which went quite down to the road, and there
we were going to have a greenhouse and a fountain,
and we could not tell what; in return for all this
communication on our part, they informed us that
their father was going to buy Mrs. Carpenter's house;
that they were coming to live here, and that we would
be very good friends when they came; they said that
they had worlds of play-things, doll-houses, and
books without end. These children were very unlike
our late guests, the Shepperleys; no one could be
quieter or better behaved than they were: and then
they seemed so pleased with us too, and made such
ready offers of friendship, that we adopted them at





SU AN EVENTFUL YEAh.
once into our very hearts. We took them into all
our favourite play-places; behind the shrubbery;
up into the stable-loft, to which we scrambled
through a broken manger-rack to the endangering of
our clothes if not of our limbs, and showed them
various objects of interest, which they, like us,
thought quite worth the trouble. We swung them
in our new swing, and had the pleasure of seeing how
properly they admired our little gardens with their
palisades of peeled willow-twigs, with a gate made
like the most regular of gates, all being secured
together with minikin pins. Anna was very clever
at this fairy-like fencemaking, and contrived with her
little pins, which she bent for hinges and hasps, that
they should open and shut, and could be fastened with
the tiniest of padlocks. The Shepperleys had made
sad devastation in our little gardens. Bob had
walked in them-and they were only in proportion to
our dolls-and had done infinite damage at every step;
he had proposed sundry alterations, all of which
tended only to disorder and ruin, and then would do
nothing to repair his ravages. We had, however, at
this happy moment just made all right and straight
again; the palings were white as snow, and the
Liliputian beds full of small but gay flowers. Our
young neighbours elect were in raptures; they had
lived in a distant town and had had no garden; they
thought that, they should be in heaven when they
came here, and so near to us.
Our father went with their parents to the next
house, and presently we saw them all three walking
in the garden, in that stately garden into which we
had hitherto hardly dared to peep! The children





AN EVENTFUL YEAR. 81
called to their parents, the parents answered, and the
next moment the father, in his volunteer regimentals,
came to the hedge and said that he would lift us all
over. He was a very good-natured man, and jumped
us high above the hedge till we seemed to be flying.
And now we were on the very gravel-walks where
Mrs. Carpenter in her calash and clogs had so often
walked. And now run off with you," said the
merry-tempered father, run off every one of you ; "
and we, glad to have permission, scampered off, and
peeped into all the holes and corners of the old lady's
dominions.
In the afternoon our visitors left us; and our
parents only echoed our own opinions, when at tea
they said that they thought we should have very
agreeable neighbours in the Taylors.
The sale took place, and, as was expected, Captain
Taylor bought the place. In a few weeks the
gentleman and lady and their servants came, but not
the children; they were now with some friends, and
were to come later when the house was in order.
This was at first a disappointment to us, and would
have been more so had we not been so much occupied
by our own affairs. It was now getting towards the
end of summer; the newly-laid out garden was
really beautiful; there had been a good deal of rain
in July, and the new turf which had been laid down
had grown nicely. Year-old hollyhocks had been
planted, and were now in full flower; there were
China asters and French marigolds, making it quite
splendid with their gorgeous intermingling of colours.
Our mother often walked In the garden, and so of
course did we; and I remember that autumn being





VA AN EVENTFUL YEAR.
first awoke to the beauty of the garden as a whole,
not looking at it, as I had hitherto done, as it were
piecemeal, with childish eyes.
Sometimes, but not very often, the Shepperleys
came; our parents evidently did not like them;
they were always very handsomely dressed and
talked a great deal, but nobody ever was sorry when
they were gone. They had become, as I said before,
wonderfully intimate with the friends of our parents,
and always told how one and another of our acquaint-
ance had formed a party to go here and there, and
they, the Shepperleys, quite expected to have seen
us there. It was a pity we had not been invited,
for it had gone off delightfully ; Mrs. So-and-so had
driven her, Mrs. Shepperley, over to Lichfield, to see
the new monument by Chantrey there; our mother
ought to see it; she wondered Mrs. So-and-so had
never driven her over." So talked the lady in-doors;
whilst the gentleman, who never failed to find our
father among his bricks and mortar, mostly drew
comparisons between the small scale of things with
us, and what he had been used to. Our father was
not lightly to be put out of conceit with his place,
however much he might be stung by occasional
invidious remarks. But the garden was now our
father's pride; it looked somewhat finished, and
showed that his notions of things, after all, were not
-much amiss. Mr. Shepperley talked of the handsome
grounds he had had; our father of those which he
meant to have, whenever he could buy the adjoining
piece of land; never failing to add, that he hoped it
never would come into anybody's head to build or in
.any way block out his view. The idea of this being





AN EVENTFUL YEAR. 83
ever done, was the bugbear that troubled our father's
peace.
After Midsummer, the young Shepperleys went to
school ; to schools which our parents' intimate friends
had recommended, because, said Mrs. Shepperley,
they were so charmed with the idea of their own
children having such delightful companions as Bob
and his sister. We children could not help feeling
vexed at everybody being so taken by the Shepperleys,
though for our own sakes we were glad to be rid
of them.
Owing to the state of the house this summer, and
to another cause also which we then did not understand,
our parents saw but very little company; our mother
was often indisposed, and it seemed to us as if
Mrs. Shepperley had taken her place with all her
friends. Nanny, who never could bear the Shep-
perleys, vented high indignation against them con-
tinually. There she goes, stuck up like a turkey-
cock!" she would say, "a mischief-making, interloping
thing I 've heard what she has said of our missis, and
she not good enough to carry our missis's shoes after
her I wish I could only let her feel the length of
my tongue. But pride goes before a fall! said
Nanny consolingly.
In the autumn the town was in a state of great
excitement, from the circumstance of the first stage-
coach passing through it. We children had never in
our lives seen a stage-coach. Pictures of such things
with their four gallantly prancing horses we had seen,
but an actual coach never. The letters came by a
boy, who fetched them daily from a neighboring
town, through which the mail passed; he rode a





H4 AN EVENTFUL YEAR.
little lean horse, and notified his exit from and
entrance to the town, by blowing a shrill tin horn.
Often he came with blue and red ribands streaming
from his hat, at unusual speed, and blowing his born
louder than ever, for then he brought what was called
" good news," news of some victory over the terrible
Buonaparte; and then, within a quarter of an hour
after his arrival, the bells were loudly ringing, and
the gentlemen were hurrying off themselves or sending
their servants full drive to the post-office for their
newspapers, being too impatient to wait the slow
mode of ordinary delivery. Not less exciting too,
though in another way, were the times when the
same Mercury came speeding in, and wildly sounding
his horn, undecorated with ribands, announcing some
great defeat-some terrible advance of the great foe
-some city laid in ashes-some ten thousand gallant
men cut to pieces; and people then hurried along
the town, asking in fearful eagerness the particulars
one of another.
Nothing more enlivening than this passed, in an
ordinary way, through the town, when at this time
every creature was alert with the thoughts of the daily
passing of the stage-coach. It was to travel from Man-
chester to London, and went through Birmingham.
It made quite an excitement; it had been talked of
for some weeks, and now the day was actually come
when it was to be seen for the first time.
Our parents ordered Nanny to take us opposite the
inn, that we might see it come in, change horses, and
then set off again. Children who have seen stage-
coaches all their lives, can have no idea what an event
thisfirst stage-coach really was. I never felt so excited





AN EVENTFUL YEAR. 8
in my life as when it came dashing down the street all
covered with ribands, and flags flying, and a French-
horn blowing, for in those days stage-coaches had their
guards. All the town was up; people hurrahed,
and waved their hats, and were quite enthusiastic.
Horses, now-a-days, are changed in a coach in three
minutes, but it was not so then; they must have been
a full twenty minutes over it, but that was all the
better, for there was the more time to notice every-
thing thoroughly. But in time all was ready, and
then off it went again. The horses galloped, the
ribands and the flags streamed gallantly, and the flou-
rish of the French-horn playing "Rule Britannia,"
almost drowned the rattling of the wheels.
All that evening we could talk of nothing but the
coach; we could play at nothing but the coach.
Fortunately the new papers were come for the rooms,
and the next morning the floors were strewn with
long strips which had been cut from the edges of the
pieces of paper; some were red, and some blue-they
were ribands for our coach ; we tied them on a stick,
and carrying this in one hand while with the other
we held the reins, one of us acted the four horses,
and the other the coach. To our fancy it was com-
plete; we ran round and round the garden, and
imitated, the best we could, the triumphing of the
French-horn. Whilst we were thus in the midst of
our glory, a most welcome sound, all at once, arrested
our career. I say, we are come!" sounded from
the other side of the hedge; and the two heads of our
long-expected neighbours were seen peeping over.
The coach flew round to that side, and the most hearty
congratulations followed. But what was our astonish-





U6 AN EVENTFUL YEAR.
ment to learn Ahat they had actually come by the
coach on its upward journey this morning-actually
and truly had come inside that beautiful coach, and
could tell us all about it Their uncle had brought
them-and nothing in this world could equal the
delight of riding in a coach. It must be, however,
we all agreed, very dangerous riding outside; they
said there was somebody on the outside that screamed
once, but everybody laughed ; they wished we could
all four of us go together in the coach! For many
days nothing was done in both gardens but driving
about the stage-coach; they had paper streamers like
ours; we arranged our inns at the same point in the
hedge, we cut up cake and apple for dinner, and
were most gloriously happy. It was an understood
thing by us, and by the other children also no doubt,
that without especial permission from the parents, no
invitations were to be given to come over or through
the fence. We brought little chairs, on which we
stood, and laying a board on the broad well-clipped
fence, managed all our business as at a table. We
never were so happy in our lives; we left the work-
men to get on with their papering and painting : we
troubled ourselves not at all about the making of the
new carpets, new curtains, or the new bed; we hardly
gave ourselves time to eat our dinners, we were so
anxious to be together again.
For the first time in our lives, we now had intimate
friends of our own age. John, the brother, dissipated
all our prejudice against boys-we began to think
what a charming thing it would be to have a brother.
Sara, the girl, had tastes just like our own, but she
knew a deal more of the world than we did, had been





AN EVENTFUL YEAR. 87
to a boarding-school, at a dancing-master's ball, and
had read endless little novels and tales about fine
officers and ladies, and was exceedingly fond of telling
them over and over again. She opened quite a new
world to us, and we could not help wondering
why our parents did not let us do as she and her
brother did, for there really was something remark-
ably charming in it. Much of a woman as Sara
seemed to be in comparison with us in experience of
life, she disdained none of our simpler tastes and
amusements. The fact was, these all came with
the full charm of novelty to her. Above everything
were they both bewitched by the passion for gar-
dening. They must have gardens just like us: a
larger garden and a smaller one, quite a fairy concern,
with its palisades of peeled osiers, and its little
gate that opened and shut. Nothing but the garden
hedge and the walk on each side divided our gardens:
the hedge grew ever thinner and thinner-it was
really wonderful how low and thin it grew; we could
now see each other at work; we needed no chair or
stool now to give us a view o: each other's faces, we
could easily have gone backwards and forwards before
the summer was over, but as I recollect we never
did ; each remembered the command of their parents
and adhered to it. Our parents often said, as if we
had nothing to do in it, that the hedge was getting
remarkably thin and that it must be mended, but
fortunately they did not often come down the side
walks, so it never got mended till the next spring.
The autumn went on-we ate apples and cracked
nuts together, and as the days grew colder came out
in warm spencers and woollen handkerchiefs, and now





88 AN EVENTFUL YEAR.
and then received an admonition, not always very
welcome, not to keep standing so much; that it was
getting damp and chilly in the evenings, and we must
not go out after tea.
The Taylors were completely settled in their new
house; we had paid the family a congratulatory visit,
which to us children was an infinite happiness.
Sara Taylor had whole drawers-full of unconverted
finery for her dolls-she was munificent in her pre-
sents to ours. John had a rocking-horse, and the
evening we spent there was a delightful time indeed.
Our house too by this time was in complete order; it
answered everybody's expectation; the new carpets
and new furniture had quite a handsome appearance
-and our favourite neighbours came to return the
family visit. All our parents' friends called, but we
were told that for the present there would be very
little visiting.
Our mother did not spin this winter; indeed after
this time I believe that she did not spin at all. It
was now November-dull, short days, and as we
could not see much of our neighbours in the garden,
we amused ourselves by reading the books which they
lent us by the nursery fire. We had all the more
time for this, as our mother, as it seemed to us rather
singularly, required us to do but very few lessons.
One morning, I shall never forget it, it was the
most remarkable morning of our young lives, and
only exceeded in interest by a morning which
occurred later, and of which I shall have to speak in
its place : one morning, in November, we were
saluted on waking with the astonishing news that we
had a little sister born. If we had been told that the






sky had fallen, it would not have surprised us more.
We had never had the slightest idea that there could
be more children in the family than ourselves, and
now there was another little sister! We sprang out
of bed; dressed ourselves with the utmost speed,
hardly, in fact, stayed to finish dressing, and attended
by Nanny, who was very solemn in her manner,
were conducted to our mother's chamber-door. The
sound of a baby's voice reached our ears as we
approached ; we had hardly ever heard such a sound in
the house before, and a feeling of love and joy rushed
through our hearts. I felt as if I was choked, as if
I really must cry; I looked at Anna, and she really
was crying. The next moment we saw the little
stranger lying in the nurse's lap, in the lap of that
old woman who had of late been going backwards and
forwards to our house, and we never could imagine
what was her business.
The stage-coach ; our gardens; our new acquaint-
ance ; our dolls, all seemed insignificant and worthless
in comparison with the darling little sister. No young
mother was ever so pleased with her first-born as we
with this little unexpected stranger, who we were
informed was to be called Emma.
We waited a long time impatiently in the garden
that day for our neighbours, to communicate to them
the happy tidings. At last their voices were heard;
we set up the established signal-cry, and our friends
were with us instantly. Oh, did they know what
we had to tell We had got a little sister; a darling
little beauty of a sister! We should never care for
dolls now; we should give all our dolls away !"
What was our astonishment when Sara said that
i2


89


AN EVENTFUL YEAR.





90 AN EVENTFUL YEAR.
she would tell us a secret which their maid had just
told her, when the news had come that we had a little
sister; and that was, that they too would have one
most likely before long! But we were to be certain
sure never to tell anybody, for it was a very great
secret indeed I!
What a strange thing this was! and how delightful,
too, that dear little brothers and sisters came so unex-
pectedly, when one thought about anything but their
coming !
The occupation-the charm, of this winter was the
baby; but there was a grief in our house nevertheless.
Our mother was ill for months-was not able, indeed,
to leave her room till spring. The woman who had
made her appearance before the time of little Emma's
birth, never left us through the whole winter; and
true to our volunteered promise, we gave away our
large dolls to the little niece of this nurse-a child
about whom we became much interested. Her father
was a soldier, and had been a prisoner in a horrible
French prison for some years; and his wife main-
tained herself by needlework.
When our mother recovered from her illness, and
was again able to pay attention to us, she informed
us, to our no small sorrow, that it was no longer her
intention to continue our education herself, and that
after many plans had been thought of, it was the
decision of our father and herself to put us under the
care of a lady who was just coming to the town-was
in fact coming to lodge at the very next house, where
Mrs. Gilbert had lived-and would have the daily
care of us.
Of course, we had nothing to say against this; but





AN EVENTFUL YEAR. 91
long was the discussion which we had between our.
selves on the subject. We were as rational as people,
either old or young, mostly are in their discussions-
we found that there was a deal to be said on both
sides. We should lose some liberty, but then there
was novelty in going to school; the lady who was to
teach us might be cross and disagreeable, but then on
the other hand she might be very charming; and
seeing that she had been chosen by our parents to
instruct us, the probabilities were that she was so.
We consulted our friends, the Taylors, on the subject;
they said that their mamma, too, was talking a deal
now-a-days about schools and governesses. John
said he had made up his mind that he should have
had to go to school after Christmas, and he wondered
he had not-for his part, he should like it; and
Sara was generous enough to say, that now we
were going to have a governess, she should like to
have one too.
One evening, our mother told us that the lady who
was to teach us was coming the next day to dine
with us. Of course, this was very important infor-
mation. We should thus see what she was like.
Her name, our mother told us, was Parker-Mrs.
Parker. What, that Mrs. Parker who had formerly
lived at the haunted old Hall? The same. Was it
really she Nanny had told us so much about her-
she was the cleverest lady in the world-had written
books, knew Latin, and Greek, and botany, and was
as learned as a clergyman, and drew and painted!
Naunny had seen a large screen which she had
painted with flowers-poppies, and anemones, and
operations, and tulips, all scattered about as if some





AN EVENTFUL YEAR.


one had thrown over it a handful of flowers; and
Nanny had told us that her history was like a story
in a book-was all this true ? Our mother said that
it was all true. She was indeed the cleverest woman
she ever knew, and the most accomplished, and per-
haps the best also. She was a lady of good family,
and had once been a great deal richer than, in all
probability, we should ever be; but she had been
very unfortunate-had been connected with people
unworthy of her, and she had known much, very
much, sorrow. Our mother said that she told us
this, not for us to talk about, but that we might feel
respect for her, and show her kindness, and endeavour
to profit by her very superior mind. Nothing, she
said, would give her greater pleasure than for her
children to find a friend in Mrs. Parker. We were
very much impressed by the earnest manner in which
our mother spoke. An ideal of what this lidy must
resemble filled our minds. To me she seemed a tall
figure clothed in white-a sort of beautiful angel,
looking wise and kind at the same time. Whilst I
was thus imagining the exterior of a being so gifted
and so good, the door opened and our mother rose,
saying at the same moment-" Mrs. Parker." I
looked up; my tall figure in white had vanished, and
I saw my mother holding by the hand a rather short,
rather broad, rather brown-complexioned woman,
dressed in very plain black. This, then, was our
future teacher-the model we were to copy-the one
whom we were to make our friend! I was a little
staggered.
On our mother's introducing us to her, she took a
hand of each of us, and looking fixedly into our


92





AN EVENTFUL YEAR. 93
faces, smiled kindly and said, We shall, I trust, be
good friends by and by."
We sat down by the table after dinner, and listened
to the conversation of Mrs. Parker and our mother;
it was a real pleasure to hear them talk. She had
been into many parts of the world, and all that she
related was lively and graphic; and then, too, when
she turned and talked to us, not, like a formal gover-
ness, about multiplication tables and the conjugation
of irregular verbs, but about flowers and pleasant
books-how she recommended herself to our hearts!
She looked at Anna's flower-drawings, and commended
them; and said that we would all walk together in
summer evenings and gather flowers, which she would
teach us to press, and to imitate also-not by the
pencil alone, but to make artificially. She told us of
the wonders which the microscope revealed-of which
we knew but little-and all she told us had such a
clearness that it seemed to us as if we could see
and understand at once all that she described. There
was, too, something so gentle and kind about her-
so love-inspiring, that I found, after all, my lofty
white-garmented figure was right in spirit, if not in
outward form.
We were charmed with our new teacher ; the
impression on both was the same. We were quite
enraptured to find how much alike our sentiments
were regarding her. Nanny had a deal of trouble to
get us to bed that night; we were so eager looking
up school-books, and paint-boxes, and slates, and
pencils, that we might be ready to begin.
A new broom sweeps clean," said Nanny, almost
angrily; take my word for it. that you '11 be sick of





AN EVENTFUL YEAR.


school, spite of all this flower-painting and flower-
making, before you are a month older!"
At the appointed time, we began our school-life in
earnest; but yet that earnest was not downright hard
drudgery after all. As far as learning went, we were
put into Mrs. Parker's hands, and she was to do with
us as she would. The mere learning was not amiss;
but the really pleasant thing was when we had Mrs.
Parker to ourselves, out of the regular school-hours,
and when there was no formal teaching; when she
took us out into the fields, and talked about whatever
might present itself. I never heard any one talk as
well as she did ; she would take a little flower in her
hand, and preach such a sermon from it as would
make the hearts of her young auditors burn within
them. She saw the love which we had for nature;
she had it too, and she sympathized with us. Seeing,
too, the ardency of our minds, she gave us, young as
we were, an aim to our desires. She, noble-minded
woman, sowed seed at that time which has sprung up
since then to bear, 1 trust, not bad fruit. She called
forth the peculiar faculties of our minds, and gave
them a bent which they never lost.
Our mother was greatly pleased with the influence
which she soon acquired over us; and she had her
wish in seeing her become the friend of her children.
From this time, for two years and a half, we were
under the care of this excellent woman. My heart
glows with love to her memory as I write this page.
How beautiful is the character of such a woman! It
seems to me, on reviewing it, as if all graces of mind
and heart were combined in her-intellect. accom-
plishments, amiability, piety. So humble. yet so


94





VARIOUS THINGS. V5
gifted-having suffered so much from others, yet full
of lovi and kindness to all. Her memory is to me a
sacred thing. I keep yet the little drawings which
she made me, little exquisite groups of flowers which
she cut out, and the letters which, when we left home
for a distant school, she wrote to me. Yes, indeed,
it was a happy day when we were put under her care;
and Nanny's prediction was triumphantly proved
wrong-that we should be tired of school before
we had gone there for a month.
In the early spring, as had been predicted, our
neighbours also had a little sister; and just about the
same time, the young Shepperlcys had a little brother.
Whilst our mother, as the warmer months of spring
advanced, only slowly recovered, Mrs. Shepperley was
quite well, and was driving about and looking as gay
as ever. As usual, she paid us occasional visits; and
never failed to bring tidings of one kind or another
that vexed us. Her little boy, she said, would make
two of ours, though he was so much younger. She
evidently looked down upon our baby ; and her dis-
sentient opinion annoyed us more than other people's
praise gave us pleasure.



CHAPTER X.
VARIOUS THINGS.
OUR father, as I have before said, had a perfect
passion for improving things and places ; and, having
now done the best he could for the present to his own
individual possessions, he began to turn his mind to





80 VARIOUS THINGS.
the improvement of the town. The town was
wretchedly paved, and the streets were full of th(
most awkward projections and irregularities; their(
were no lamps, there was a pinfold in the town-
streets, and the inhabitants were indifferently supplied
with water, whilst the finest of streams ran idly by
the town. All these things suggested to his mind the
design of improving and benefiting the place. He
formed plans and made suggestions; he talked with all
his friends and acquaintances about them, and every-
body acknowledged how desirable it was that these
things should be done, but where was the man with
public spirit enough to see after their being done ?
Would he do it? He was one, the whole town de-
clared, in whom everybody had confidence; if he
would but undertake it, the necessary funds should
be raised, and he should be empowered to carry out
all his designs. He undertook the office willingly;
and now, through all this midsummer, nothing was
thought of or talked of but improving the town.
The work went on rapidly under our father's eye;
unsightly objects were done away with; regular
pavements were laid down; lamps hung here
and there; old deformities and obstacles removed,
and corners, which hitherto had been nothing but
nuisances, were given up to the adjoining inhabitant
to add to his garden or his court. In the prevailing
spirit of the time, people built up new walls or put
down new palisades. The aspect of everything
improved daily. People looked on with surprise;
they called our father the public benefactor-the
most public-spirited man of the place. To him it
was a labour of love, and his best reward was





VARIOUS' THINGS. 97
now to see the approbation which his work was
winning.
To us at home, too, all was equally satisfactory.
Our neighbours were as charming as ever, although
neither they nor we had as much time to play this
year as the last. Both they and we had our daily
lessons to do; and they were as much delighted with
their little Mary Ann as we with our little idol,
Emma.
Of the Shepperleys we saw less and less. They
had gained the intimate acquaintance of a great many
people, and had enough to do without having much
time to spare for us. Nanny maintained her old
opinions of them and her old dislike, and dropped
many hints of the mischief they were doing in many
ways. That, however, which perhaps annoyed us
the most, was the undeniable fact that the young
Master Shepperley was unquestionably a finer baby
than either ours or the Taylors' ;-for the first time
in my life I felt the bitter feeling of envy and dis-
like. I hated to see their nurse come to our house
with their baby, and more than all to hear the nurse
-who seemed to have the spirit of her mistress-
draw invidious comparisons between the children.
"A great, heavy, lumpish thing is that Shepperleys'
baby," said Nanny, who was influenced by a spirit of
malice, "it will go off with the croup or the hooping-
cough; and good riddance of it !"
Oh Nanny !" we said, it is not right to say so."
And yet, I am afraid that we ourselves were not in
the most Christian state of mind.
It was about this time that we first read Robinson
Crusoe, and Sandford and Merton. They made quite





V8 VARIOUS THINGS.
an era in our knowledge of books; they were the
most interesting that we had ever read, and we were
never satisfied with the reading of them. Again and
again we went through them, and found new beauties
each time. Our friends, the Taylors, read them too;
but on them, who had already been acquainted with
works of fiction, the effect which they produced was
less vivid. The next delight in our experience of
books was in "Evenings at Home." The little
dramatic sketches in these volumes had an incon-
ceivable charm for us; they placed everything so
livingly before our imaginations. We soon knew by
heart "Alfred in the Neat-herd's Cottage," and
" Canute and his Courtiers;" and enacted them, as
we thought, with all the spirit of actuality. It was
about this time, too, when we began to compose little
poems, and relate, rather than write, tales in prose.
Many were the histories of joy and sorrow, according
to our small experience of life, which we thus put
together-telling them over, night after night, till
they were made as complete as we thought them
capable of being. It was not till three or four years
later that we were able to commit our effusions to
paper; and then they ceased to be joint labours.
One afternoon this summer, we had been out with
Nanny and our darling Emma. She was now a
sweet little blue-eyed creature, with a grave little
mouth, that relaxed all at once into a sunny smile,
with yellowish silken hair, and a complexion like
alabaster. Oh, how we loved her! Our father and
mother, too, had taken a drive that afternoon, and
we were all to be home again to tea at seven. We
rere a little after our time ; and when we returned,




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