• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Frontispiece
 Title Page
 Preface
 Table of Contents
 A sick boy and a sick room
 Ministering angels
 Grassbrooke grange
 The story of an old wall
 The birth of the year
 How we hunted strange animals and...
 A humble hero -- St. Valentine
 My visit to Ireland, and what I...
 A wreck at sea
 Underground
 My Easter holidays
 A May jaunt and May customs
 Fly-fishing in Dovedale
 The capture of the fish-poache...
 Summer days at Grassbrooke
 What we saw at midnight at the...
 A sketching excursion and what...
 Off to the Moors
 "The land of mountain and...
 The ring and its story
 A pleasant route to England
 "A mop"
 All-Hallow Eve
 "Across country"
 Home again
 Advertising
 Back Cover
 Spine






Title: Harry Hope's holidays
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE TURNER PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00027930/00001
 Material Information
Title: Harry Hope's holidays what he saw, what he did, and what he learnt during a year's ramble in country places
Physical Description: viii, 301, 8 p., 12 leaves of plates : ill. ; 17 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Burgess, J. Tom
Swain, Joseph, 1820-1909 ( Engraver )
George Routledge and Sons ( Publisher )
Savill, Edwards and Co ( Printer )
Bone & Son ( Binder )
Publisher: George Routledge and Sons
Place of Publication: London
New York
Manufacturer: Savill, Edwards and Co.
Publication Date: 1874
Copyright Date: 1874
 Subjects
Subject: Holidays -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Sick children -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Voyages and travels -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Natural history -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Country life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Children -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Social life and customs -- Juvenile fiction -- Great Britain   ( lcsh )
Publishers' catalogues -- 1874   ( rbgenr )
W. Bone & Son -- Binders' tickets (Binding) -- 1874   ( rbbin )
Bldn -- 1874
Genre: Publishers' catalogues   ( rbgenr )
Binders' tickets (Binding)   ( rbbin )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
United States -- New York -- New York
 Notes
General Note: Date of publication from inscription.
General Note: Some illustrations engraved by Swain.
General Note: Publisher's catalogue follows text.
General Note: Bound by W. Bone & Son.
Statement of Responsibility: by J.Tom Burgess.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00027930
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: notis - ALG3256
oclc - 60585655
alephbibnum - 002223008

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Page i
    Frontispiece
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Preface
        Page v
        Page vi
    Table of Contents
        Page vii
        Page viii
    A sick boy and a sick room
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
    Ministering angels
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
    Grassbrooke grange
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 26a
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
    The story of an old wall
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
    The birth of the year
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 54a
        Page 55
        Page 56
    How we hunted strange animals and killed small deer
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
    A humble hero -- St. Valentine
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 80a
        Page 81
    My visit to Ireland, and what I saw
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 90a
        Page 91
        Page 92
    A wreck at sea
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
    Underground
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
    My Easter holidays
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 118a
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
    A May jaunt and May customs
        Page 128
        Page 128a
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
    Fly-fishing in Dovedale
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
    The capture of the fish-poacher
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
    Summer days at Grassbrooke
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 172a
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
    What we saw at midnight at the Abbey farm
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
    A sketching excursion and what came of it
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
    Off to the Moors
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
    "The land of mountain and of flood"
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 230a
        Page 231
    The ring and its story
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
        Page 246
    A pleasant route to England
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 253
        Page 254
        Page 255
        Page 256
        Page 256a
        Page 257
    "A mop"
        Page 258
        Page 259
        Page 260
        Page 261
        Page 262
        Page 263
        Page 264
        Page 265
        Page 266
        Page 267
        Page 268
        Page 269
        Page 270
    All-Hallow Eve
        Page 271
        Page 272
        Page 273
        Page 274
        Page 275
        Page 276
        Page 277
        Page 278
        Page 278a
        Page 279
        Page 280
        Page 281
        Page 282
    "Across country"
        Page 283
        Page 284
        Page 285
        Page 286
        Page 287
        Page 288
        Page 289
        Page 290
        Page 291
        Page 292
        Page 293
        Page 294
    Home again
        Page 295
        Page 296
        Page 297
        Page 298
        Page 298a
        Page 299
        Page 300
        Page 301
        Page 302
    Advertising
        Page 303
        Page 304
        Page 305
        Page 306
        Page 307
        Page 308
        Page 309
        Page 310
        Page 311
    Back Cover
        Page 312
        Page 313
    Spine
        Page 314
Full Text
























































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CAUGHT ITHERAN










HARRY HOPE'S HOLIDAYS:



WHAT HE SAW, WHAT HE DID, AND
WHAT HE LEARNT

DURING


A YEAR'S RAMBLES IN COUNTRY PLACES.




"' My boy, thou wilt dream the world is fair
And thy spirit will sigh to roam;
And thou must go; but never when there
Forget the light of home."





BY

J. TOM BURGESS,





LONDON:
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS,
THE BROADWAY, LUDGATE.
NEW YORK: 416, BROOME STREET




















TO MY OLD SCHOOLFELLOWS.




I)DEAR OLD F'RINI)S,

Many of you will doubtless remember
the many pleasant Friday afternoons we used
to spend together in the parlour of the old
parsonage, when, under the presidency of our
dear old master, we used to relate our holiday
adventures, the journeys we had been, the sports
we indulged in, as well as the remarkable things
we had seen and the strange things we had
learned outside the school walls. We had thus
each and all a mutual interest in each other's
proceedings, and we thus acquired a habit of
remembering and of storing up our observations


























CONTENTS.






I. A SICK BOY AND A SICK ROOM . 1
II. MINISTERING ANGELS . . . 8

III. GRASSBROOKE GRANGE . ... 13

IV. THE STORY OF AN OLD WALL. . 30

V. THE BIRTH OF THE YEAR . . . 44

VI. HOW WE HUNTED STRANGE ANIMALS AND
KILLED SMALL DEER . . 77
VII. A HUMBLE HERO-ST. VALENTINE . 68

VIII. MY VISIT TO IRELAND, AND WHAT I SAW 82

IX. A WRECK AT SEA . . . 93

X. UNDERGROUND . . . . 107

XI. MY EASTER HOLIDAYS . . . 116

XII. A MAY JAUNT AND MAY CUSTOMS. . 128

XIII. FLY-FISHING IN DOVEDALE .. 139










viii Contents.


CHAP. PAGE
XIV. THE CAPTURE OF THE FISH-POACHER . 151

XV. SUMMER DAYS AT GRASSBROOKE . 166

XVI. WHAT WE SAW AT MIDNIGHT AT THE ABBEY
FARM ........... 178

XVII. A SKETCHING EXCURSION AND WHAT CAME
OF IT . . . . 191

XVIII. OFF TO THE MOORS .. . . . 205

XIX. "THE LAND OF MOUNTAIN AND OF FLOOD" 216

XX. THE RING AND ITS STORY . . . 232

XXI. A PLEASANT ROUTE TO ENGLAND .. 247

XXII. "A MOP". . . . . ... 258

XXIII. ALL-HALLOW EVE . . . . . 271

XXIV. "ACROSS COUNTRY" . . . .. 283

XXV. HOME AGAIN . . . . . 295















HARRY HOPE'S HOLIDAYS.



CHAPTER I.

A SICK BOY AND A SICK ROOM.

Fly from the town, sweet child, for health
Is happiness and strength and wealth :
There is a lesson in each flower,
A story in each stream and bower;
On every herb o'er which you tread,
Are written words, if rightly read,
Will lead you from earth's fragrant sod,
To hope and holiness and God."

T was very strange. All was strange
about me. There were curtains about
my bed; there was a dim light in the
room. My limbs were powerless. I tried to
speak, and my words died away in the faintest
whisper. Dark and hazy forms floated over my

B








2 A Sick Boy and a Sick Room.

eyes. A sense of unutterable weakness came
over me. I closed my eyes, and I slept.
How long I slept I know not now; but
when I awoke the grey cold daylight was in the
room, and I gazed anxiously round. One by
one old familiar objects met my sight, and
seemed to renew their old acquaintanceship.
Yet it seemed so strange. I tried to remember
all, but I could not. How did I reach home ?
for that I was at home in my dear, dear mother's
house every object told me. What would Dr.
Gradus think of me? I could just remember
the last day at school, and how I had been op-
pressed by giddiness and had suffered from a
severe headache. A mist came over my eyes,
and my head had sunk on the desk. I could
just recollect the old familiar dormitory,
with good Tom Elton standing by the side
of the bed. I had a dim remembrance of the
old doctor, and a strange face or two, and that
was all.








A Sick Boy and a Sick Room. 3

Yet I had strange dreams terribly realistic.
Strange old men had visited me in my sleep.
Good fairies had helped me along when tired.
I had floated in the air, and had struggled fiercely
in my dream with black surging waters. Waters,
too, I had sometimes longed for, when dry and
parched on Arabia's deserts, when the hot glaring
sun seemed to scorch my brain and set my body
on fire. Now I was cold and shivering, as if in
the Arctic circle, and so weak that I could not
reach the fruit placed so temptingly by my
bedside. I strained my memory to account for
these things, but there was a dark blank between
my consciousness of the past and my presence
in my mother's room.
Hush! There is some one moving outside. A
gentle footstep approaches the door. The door
silently swings back, and the dear face of my
mother peeped round so timidly and anxiously
that I could only smile a welcome, and say
"Mother !"
B2








4 A Sick Boy and a Sick Room.

Oh, how her eye brightened as she rushed for-
ward to kiss her boy, who had been very, very
close to the "valley of the shadow of death !" I
had been long ill with fever, and had been re-
moved from school while unconscious; and my
dreams had been but the vagaries of delirium.
Now I learnt how carefully I had been watched
during the weary hours of the night, when the
leaves were falling from the branches and the
wind was soughing through the empty streets. I
knew that all the skill of medicine, and all that
good nursing could do, had been brought to bear
on me, and I had awoke from my fever-dreams
cold, weak, and very ill. Nature could not have
borne the attack much longer; and now I only
wanted care, good nursing, and a long holiday
to restore me to health. All this I learnt from
my good mother and my kind father. My dar-
ling little Beatrice peeped in, too, and said,
" Harry is better now-so glad," as she shook
her curls at me through the doorway; for she








A Sick Boy and a Sick Room. 5

was not permitted to come into the room where
Fever had held his court so long.
Oh! the memories that came and went of that
fevered time! It was an idyll of vague fancies,
in which imagination and fact strove for mastery.
I could recollect so much of the wild thoughts of
my poor brain, though I knew so little of what
had passed around me. I heard of long, weari-
some, anxious night-watching by those to whom
I was so dear, but of them I was unconscious. I
heard of the heartfelt prayers that I might be
spared to my father and to my mother, uttered
by that dear loveable old grandmother of mine,
who had been to see me. I was promised that
I should see her again in the early spring, and I
longed for strength, I yearned for health, that I
might be freed from the languor that bound me
down, so that I might show how grateful I was
for the mercies vouchsafed unto me, and the
kindnesses showered on me. But it was not yet
to be.









6 A Sick Boy and a Sick Room.

As I grew stronger I found that the bold
summer had given place to the russet autumn,
and that we were on the threshold of haggard
winter. If I had been at school I should have
been counting the days to Christmas. I used to
wonder, as I was drawn out in a wheel-chair,
what the boys were doing; whether they had
begun foot-ball yet! If they had had their
first paper-chase! I had received a letter from
Dr. Gradus, and another from Tom Elton, and
they had said how glad they were to hear that I
was recovering. The boys had missed me much,
they said, and they were all anxious that I should
join them again. But when would that be ? I
was still very feeble. The doctor would not hear
of school, or of its duties: he said I must get
strong ere I settled down to my studies again.
I knew that the vacation was at hand, and I
sighed to think that during this term I should
know St. Werstan's no more. A long holiday
was in store for me, and much as I had longed








A Sick Boy and a Sick Room. 7

for holidays, I could hardly welcome this, I could
hardly bear even the thought of this passive in-
dolence, this waiting for health and strength
which came so slowly along.
The doctor at last said emphatically that I
must not wait for the spring, that I must have
change of air and change of scene at once. A
run in some country-house where there was
plenty of exercise and plenty of eggs and milk
would be the very thing for me. But where
could I go ? Who would take charge of a
weakly boy-at a holiday-time, too!

















CHAPTER II.

MINISTERING ANGELS.

HO would take care of a weakly boy,
and at Christmas time, too ?
Who! There were angels on the
earth once, and we may even now entertain
them unawares. There were guardian angels
in our childhood, and I would not dispel that
pleasant dream of boyish faith, for I have met
earthly angels, genial angels of charity, who
have made life's pathway pleasant by their
deeds. The gentle words of the angel of pity
have shed a heavenly light in the hour of sor-
row, and cast a hallowed ray on the most dark-
some path. Have not the whispers of earth's
angels cheered us onward when the sky was over-





4

J/,':./ '.. ring Angels. 9

cast, and the future seemed not only drear, but
foreboding? I would not cast away the fond
faith in angels, who, though not clothed in
gorgeous raiment or fine linen, by their acts of
mercy proclaim the unutterable love of Him who
died for all.
In times of weakness and sickness the spirit
seems nearer to the silent land, and the good
spirits who dwell therein; and I never lost the
great sustaining faith that, though I was de-
barred from many anticipated pleasures, I should
yet gain health and strength, and again see the
bright sunshine, and the glorious country. Nor
was I disappointed.
How they came to hear of it I never knew,
but just before Christmas I received another
letter from Tom Elton, and my mother received
a longer note from Mrs. Elton to the same
effect. Tom wrote-
"DEAR HARRY,-Old St. Werstan's is pre-
cious dull just now. We are pegging away for








Ministering Angels. 1

of care of you until you are strong. All the
boys ask to be remembered to you, and I re-
main, yours ever,
Tom ELTON."

I had often longed for a change, and of all
changes a visit to Grassbrooke Grange seemed
the most delightful. Elton had described again
and again every point of interest, from the home
close to the rabbit-warren, the pony, the horses,
and the garden, until I could almost fancy it if
not a rural Eden, at least the most enjoyable of
all enjoyable places.
"Harry," said my mother, interrupting my
reverie, Mrs. Elton has asked you to spend a
month or two at Grassbrooke, and I have agreed
with your father that, if you are strong enough,
you shall go when Christmas is over."
I looked somewhat disappointed I have no
doubt, for I had began to feast on anticipation.
"I should not like you to be absent this
Christmas, Harry; it would seem as if I had








Io A';... .'...::. Angels.

the Christmas examinations, for the Doctor
wishes us to do him some credit this half. Will
Summers is likely to get the History prize, and
Morton minor goes in strong for Geography.
Little Heathcote will be somewhere in the prize
list. We all went to see the old Blazers throw
off at Crackley Wood last week, and jolly fun
we had; but I wanted my old pony to show
them the way across country. That reminds
me, Harry, that my father wishes me to ask you
to Grassbrooke. You have often heard me talk
of the old Grange, the pond, and the heronry;
and I should be glad to show you all. It would
make you strong again, for I tell you that even
the fare at St. Werstan's, good as it is compared
with other schools, is not so good or so jolly as
that of the old Grange farm. Do come, there's
a good fellow! I know that perhaps you may
have a more swellish place to go to, but none
where you would be more welcome or be more
at home. Aunt Mary says she will take no end








12 Ministering Angels.

lost you altogether. You will be at Grass-
brooke ere the year is out. I am so much
obliged to your old schoolfellow, and his mother,
for thinking of my boy."
I thought of my kind old schoolfellow, and
of the pleasures untasted yet by me of a country
life, and a tear perhaps came into my eye.
My mother's heart opened at once, and with
self-sacrificing love she gave up her fond wish;
and though it grieved her to lose me at Christ-
mas-tide, she saw that hope deferred would do
me much injury in the languid state I was in.
She again consulted my father, who gave his
consent. My heart yearned for the country,
though I was a town-bred child.
And so it was arranged that I should spend
my first holiday from home, with my best
friend, among the holmes and pastures of Grass-
brooke Grange.

















CHAPTER III.

GRASSBROOKE GRANGE.

N the very heart of England, where the
bluff headlands melt away into the
plains, and the undulating meadows
and cornfields stretch far away into the dis-
tance, you will find the old Grange of Grass-
brooke. It nestles down in one of the snuggest
nooks in the warm bosom of our dear old land.
The old Roman settlers may have chosen it as
a summer retreat, for one of their old military
ways runs by the side of the demesne, but the
present building claims no great antiquity. Its
quaint gables and old mullioned windows are
certainly not older than the reign of the Tudors,
and the county history tells us how the ancient








14 Grassbrooke Grange.

possessors were famous for their loyalty, and
suffered accordingly at each change of dynasty,
until the last owner followed Richard III. to the
field of Bosworth, and fell on the fatal plain of
Redmore. From the hill-side above the house
you may see the distant spire of Bosworth on a
clear day, if you will take the pains to distin-
guish it amongst the crowd of spires with which
the landscape is studded. Henry, Earl of Rich-
mond gave Grassbrooke a new master, and to
him doubtless the present manor-house owes
its existence. The oak-trees in the home close
are much older; some of them may have wit-
nessed the march of the Roman legions, and
others must have been stalwart trees when the
house was built. Along two sides there are
antique terraces and the remains of an old moat,
in which a few trout yet linger. The old court-
yard is now surrounded by farm buildings, and
amongst them there are a few twisted chimneys,
old rockets, and corbels just sufficient to mark







Grassbrooke Grange. 15

the extent of the old manor-house. At the
back of the garden there was a row of tall elm-
trees, which skirted the paddock in which a few
rooks had made their homes, though they
seemed to like the spinney at the bottom of the
home close better than the elms. This spinney
formed the bounds of the rabbit-warren, and ex-
tended as far as Leighthorpe wood. Through
an opening in the spinney you could see Leigh-
thorpe church. The principal front of the house
was towards this church, and here was a small
ornamental shrubbery, a low stone wall, and a
little gate which led to the road through the
home close to the old Watling Street. This,
then, was Grassbrooke, the theme of Tom
Elton's boyish confidences.
As the autumn melted into winter the slow-
moving time had mocked my anticipations.
Dull, murky December,

"Sullen and sad with all his rising train,
Vapours and clouds,"








16 Grassbrooke Grange.

had rolled gloomily along. The streets were
sloppy, dirty, and dull. The old year seemed
reluctant to leave even the dull weather, and
though it must die, it would die grudgingly. I
think my mother felt some little sorrow that my
mind had left her; but, even if this was the case,
she was soothed by the thought that I should
find renewed health in the strange scenes and
fresh modes of life where alone I could find it.
I think it was this that induced her to consent
to my leaving home before Christmas, for she
saw how my quick spirit had whipped up my
laggard frame with joyous anticipation. I was
not altogether selfish in this, though boys are
thoughtlessly hard and selfish in their desire for
change of scene and new spheres of action.
It wanted two days to Christmas when I
started. The weather was still dull and hazy,
but I thought more of the probability of the
coach being full than of the weather. My heart
thumped against my side at the very thought of








Grassbrooke Grange. 17

something happening to defer my journey. I
had not learned, then, that imaginary troubles
are the hardest to bear. The last kiss, and a
hearty "Good bye, God bless you!" came at
last. For the first time I experienced the sen-
sation of riding in a coach, and of counting the
milestones to Grassbrooke. I could not speak
to my fellow passengers at first, though they
smiled at my eagerness and curiosity. At each
stage I gazed at the smoking horses with wonder
and surprise. The very trees seemed to grow
in the haziness bigger and bigger. I did not
know then that mist and fog always had that
effect. My illness had intensified my faculties,
and when the coach rattled along the streets of
the little market-town which completed my last
stage I was in a dangerous state of excitement.
At the window-it was the George Inn, I re-
collect-stood Tom Elton and a tall, big man
whom I soon knew as Tom's father. The big,
rough man shook me first by the hand, and then
C








18 Grassbrooke Grange.

lifted me up and said that they would soon put
the roses into my cheek at Grassbrooke. Tom
said he was so glad that I had come before
Christmas, for they were going to ferret the
rabbits, and that I should take Snap" and
"Toby," the terriers, to the warren. They had
not disturbed the wild fowl at Forster's Pond:
they had waited for me to enjoy the sport and
fun.
How I enjoyed that ride in the old trap-half
gig, half dog-cart-which Tom's father used to
drive to market in! As we went along, Tom
told me the names of the various farmhouses,
and who lived in them ; the names of the vil-
lages and the big hills. It seemed so pleasant
to see the smock-frocked labourers touching
their hats and bidding us "good-morrow" and
"a merry Christmas," like Sir Roger de Co-
verley. The very dress exciting my curiosity,
I ventured to ask Tom if he wore a smock
frock.








Grassbrooke? Grange. 19

Tom's father laughed, and said that Tom
would by-and-by. He did, for he was proud of
the old garment; it was so manly and so useful.
Besides, it was the old tunic of our Saxon an-
cestors, and the old yeomen had worn it at
Cressy, Poitiers, and at Agincourt. It had
many advantages over the modern dress for all
farm purposes when well made.
Tom said that he thought that the fancy
stitching must have been taken from some
regular device of the old barons and knights, for
he had noticed that the pattern changed in
different districts.
"Nothing like keeping your eyes wide open.
Tom," said his father; I have noticed it, but it
never struck me why it was so. But here is the
home close gate. Jump out, for mother will be
waiting tea, and Harry here must be nigh
famished."
As we went along the drive at the bottom of
the home close we could see the house through

C2









20 Grassbrooke Grange.

the haze, and hear the dogs bark; and as we
turned into the courtyard, half a dozen began to
bark in as many different keys.
"Down, Snap! Down, Toby!" said Tom;
"Growler, go to bed !" and Growler, who was
the big yard dog, glared at me as he slouched
to his kennel. The other dogs sniffed at my
legs, and watched me as I went into the house
in a suspicious sort of manner.
"Never mind, Harry," said Tom, "you will
be good friends to-morrow in the warren."
"Here, mother !" shouted Tom, "here we are.
Here's Harry !" and he pushed me into a warm,
well-lighted room. Harry, this is Cissy, this
Polly, and this Nancy."
This rough kind of introduction fairly upset
me. I could only mutter a shy and miserable
" How do you do ?" until Mrs. Elton came and
welcomed me so kindly. She took me to the
room prepared for me with so much care, and
where I found a bright fire crackling a welcome








Grassbrooke Grange. 21

to this old-fashioned English household Yet
how lonely I felt when left to myself! I almost
regretted leaving home, for all was so strange,
and I yet felt weak.
I met, however, the kindest of kind welcomes.
Mrs. Elton's mother's heart warmed towards me,
and I found myself warm and snug in the ingle
nook waiting for tea, with a sense of silent joy
creeping round my heart, as the buxom red-
cheeked girl laid the tea.
But what a tea Such eggs, such cream, such
bread-brown bread, yellow cream, and fresh
eggs, though it was winter. I could hardly eat,
for my heart was too full. I can see now Tom
and his three sisters, and the silver-browed Aunt
Mary seated round the table, at which the
matronly Mrs. Elton presided, whilst I sat near
Tom's father, and next to Aunt Mary. I felt
very shy at first, particularly when I felt some-
thing cold touching my hand beneath the table,
which made me start. It's only Snap," said








22 Grassbrooke Grange.

Tom, "on the look-out ;" and then I forced a
smile which I am afraid was very doleful.
After tea we discussed the plans for the
morrow, and, like all country people, consulted
the barometer as to the weather. Tom's father
said we should have hard weather. There were
evergreens to be got in, rabbits to be ferreted,
the rooms to be decorated, and full of strange
fancies I went to bed and slept, for the first
time, in a country house.
With a very pleasant sense of dreaminess I
listened in the night to the strange music that
came through the midnight air, for they kept up
the old custom of the waits at Leighthorpe, and
Leighthorpe waits paid especial attention to
Grassbrooke, and their old-world music could be
heard on many
A winter's night
When the soundless earth is muffled."

As the last strain of the music died off, I fell
asleep again until Tom roused me in the morning.







Grassbrooke Grange. 23

A great basin of milk and bread waited for
me in the big kitchen, where the family break-
fasted by the side of the blazing hearth, fed with
"kids," as the f..i ..-.t were called; and then
we started for the warren, with the terriers and
ferrets under the charge of old Jack Blackburn,
who was a sort of odd man about the farm.
The ferrets were an object of terror to me,
though old Jack handled them so fondly as he
muzzled them and tied the long cord round
their necks, preparatory to sending them into
the rabbit burrows. I watched all with great
curiosity, and when the preparations were com-
pleted, Tom and Toby were placed at one hole,
and Jack netted two or three "runs," which I
thought was hardly giving the conies a chance.
I was placed in charge of Snap at the lower part
of the bank. In went the ferrets, dragging the
cords after them. I was all expectation, when
suddenly I heard a little scuffling, and Snap
darted after a rabbit. Tom caught another as







24 Grassbrooke Grange.

it came from the hole, and in about an hour
we had caught nearly a dozen couple, and had
disturbed half the warren. These will last
mother," said Tom, "till Boxing-day. Let us
go and help the girls." So we left Jack to
bring up the rabbits and ferrets.
As we passed through the spinney, I could
not help noticing the bright mosses that spread
their velvety carpet over the roots of the trees.
Leigh Hunt tells us that their brilliancy arises
from their imprisoning the sun's rays. Though
it is mid-winter Nature is not dead. The stems
of the trees are covered with a variety of beau-
tiful lichens and mosses of elegant shapes and
colours. Tom said that if I cared to know the
names and all about them, Aunt Mary was the
one to tell me; and I subsequently learnt from
her the many uses they had in the economy of
the universe. The little wren hopped about,
and we could hear the merry chirp of the red-
breast as we went home. The gardener was








Grassbrooke Grange. 25

clipping the evergreen bushes, and in the kitchen
a large quantity of holly and not a little mistle-
toe was gathered, and Cissy was busily engaged
in decorating the chimneypiece and the win-
dow-panes, whilst Nancy and Polly were making
the "kissing-bushes" amidst roars of laughter.
We were set to work to make wreaths, and soon
the old hall looked gay.
Aunt Mary and Mrs. Elton were busy with
the mince-pies and the plum-puddings. They
were to begin to boil the big pudding that very
night; and a number of smaller puddings and
the rabbits, with a mince-pie or two, were packed
up for some of the friends in the village. Jack
was engaged in picking the turkey, and I was
lost in bewilderment at the unexpected sight of
such profuse plenty.
At night a large bowl of lamb's-wool was
made-a mixture of spiced ale and roasted
apples-which, Mr. Elton said, came nearer to
the old wassail-bowl than any other modern








26 Grassbrooke Grange.

drink. I was only allowed to sip a little of this
strong, heady beverage from a brown mug. But
the strong-headed men drank, sang, and laughed
until the time came to put the padding in the
copper; for in this old-fashioned house they
boiled the puddings all night, and they placed
the large bag on a large dish, and formed a pro-
cession when it was plunged into the big copper.
There was a good deal of squeezing and pushing
to see the fun; for old Jack was the master of
the ceremonies.
Throughout the house a busy stir,
The cook in glory reigning;
The maid's soft dream of mistletoe,
'Midst graver cares disdaining;
For in her ears the magic voice
Another song is humming,-
'The Christmas pudding must be made,
For Christmas Day is coming.' "

And not only made but boiled, Jack undertaking
not only to sit up to keep it boiling, but to make
the toast and ale for the morning.
Never shall I forget that Christmas Eve. Every-






." i ij ,1 ,,' -:



S, I














PUTTING THE PUDDTNG INTO THE COPPER.








Grassbrooke Grange. 27

thing was so fresh and new, so strange and yet
so homely; my dreams were delightful, and only
were interrupted by the soft melody of the waits
floating through the night air. But in the early
grey morning I heard sweet voices at my door,
singing one of those old carols which had come
down to us from the long distant past, telling us
how-
Shepherds, keeping watch by night,
Saw around a heavenly light;
Heard an angel then proclaim,
Christ is born in Bethlehem !' "

For in this solitary place the children always
greeted father, mother, and guests with an old
carol, telling the lessons to be learnt at Christ-
mas-tide. Then came the Christmas greetings
round the bountiful breakfast table.
It was nothing but wishing each other "a
merry Christmas" in the early morning, as we
went round the farmyard to see that the cattle
were housed and fed at home. The very horses
seemed to know it was Christmas. We heard








28 Grassbrooke Grange.

that Reynard had come during the night, and
helped himself to the poultry, as if he too knew
it was Christmas, and wanted a dinner for his
family. I learnt too, by the morning's post,
that my dear mother had not been forgotten by
the Eltons, and that a big goose had found its
way to my home.
After a taste of the old-fashioned toast and
ale how pleasant was the journey across the
fields to Leighthorpe Church, as the bells rang
out a merry Christmas to you ;" at least they
seemed to say so to me as I walked by Aunt
Mary's side. The church was decorated with
wreaths of evergreens and pretty devices, all of
which represented some emblem of the Deity
and of the Saviour. Polly and Nancy had been
very busy all the previous afternoon in helping
the Vicar and his family to decorate the arches,
panels, pulpit, and altar, and, after the service
was over, the parishioners stayed to praise the
churchwardens and their assistants, and to hope








Grassbrooke Grange. 29

their Christmas would be a merry one and the
new year a happy one.
There were several invited guests at the dinner-
table when the beef and the turkey were eaten,
for the Eltons generally invited those whom they
knew to have no home of their own to go to.
After dinner we cracked the nuts and had a
series of joyous round games, blindman's-buff,
and a lot of fun under the mistletoe-bough, or the
"kissing-bush;" and, when night came at last,
I went to bed tired and weary-but how much
better !-to dream of the big plum-pudding, and
wishing all dear friends "a merry Christmas."




ii _4 -.-^*. ".'-'*' A' ~';I


















CHAPTER IV.

THE STORY OF AN OLD WALL.

In the vast and the minute, we see
The unambiguous footsteps of the God
Who gives its lustre to an insect's wing,
And wheels his throne upon the rolling worlds.'
CowPER.

\VINTER'S day in a country house,
when the rain is falling and the wind
soughing through the trees, is a dreary
thing to contemplate. To townsmen it is the
perfection of dulness, of ennui, and of utter
desolation of mind and of spirit. But it is not
so in reality, and when I awoke on the morning
after Christmas, and found the heavy clouds
drooping till they seemed to touch the tops of
the big trees, whilst the rain pattered against the








The Story of an Old Wall. 3I

window panes, I thought of the anticipations I
had indulged in, and my heart fairly sank in my
bosom. There would be no sliding, no skating,
no shooting, no ferreting, no pleasant rambles to
visit Tom's cousins and friends. The little wren
hid itself in the bushes, and the saucy robin lost
some of its pertness as it nestled in the laurel-
bushes of the shrubbery. The farm labourers
moved to and fro in the farmyard with sacks
over their shoulders, and big clumsy-looking
leggings on their heavy feet. The old dog lay
with his nose between his paws, watching the
draggletailed chickens striving to avoid the in-
cessant rainfall. The damp chilliness wrapped
round me like a wet fog. The entire landscape
was hidden from view : one of the old oaks could
just be discerned looming through the gloom.
The look-out was as disheartening as the heart
of a morose man.
Yet what pleasant greetings there were round
the brightly burning fire at the breakfast-table.








32 The Story of an Old Wall.

What plans were suggested for the delivery of
the Christmas-boxes, and the conveyance of
messages. I had longed to have a chat with
Aunt Mary about the wonders of the strange
fantastic-looking fungi which had clustered with
the golden lichens and the velvety moss on the
old trees in the spinney, and now the deluging
rain was filling up the water courses, and inun-
dating the lowlands with the brown floods, and
swelling the rivulets, until any journey, short as
it might be, was out of the question.
Don't forget to tell Harry," said Tom, about
the moss and things, Aunt Mary. He is dying
to know, and you could not have a better day,
now we cannot go out to the village."
But," I said, "it is equally impossible to go
to the spinney in the rain."
Oh, Aunt Mary has no end of mosses and
stones nearer home," said Tom. "Coax her to
tell you the 'Story of the Old Wall;' it's better
than all the lessons you learn at school."








The Slory of an Old Wall. 33

Fie !" said Aunt Mary. But I will tell you
all I know. Dr. Gradus would think this the
mere ornament of learning, and would be likely
to distract your attention from the solid training
you require, or else he would teach you him-
self."
He don't know half so much as you, aunt,"
interrupted Tom, with whom his aunt was a
great favourite. "I only wish I could remember
half the names, I would astonish him some
day."
"You remember, however, the various kinds
of birds' eggs from year to year. You know the
birds at a distance by their flight, and can tell
the nests of different birds as you pass by," said
Aunt Mary. "I cannot do that ; but I love the
humblest plant that grows, and in return it
teaches me the great truths of Nature, and that
nothing lives in vain, but each has its appointed
place in the universe;" and then she told us the
Story of the Old Wall."
D








34 The Story of an Old Wall.

It was not a romance, nor a legend connected
with the old Grange and its history; she only
took a piece of moss-covered stone from the old
low wall which skirted the front of the Grange,
and pointed out the dull grey, black, and orange
patches with which it was covered; except
where the green moss had grown here and there
in tufts, or clung closely to the surface of the
stone.
It was then on this dull wet day in the waning
year that I listened first with rapt attention to
the story of the birth of the earth's verdure, and
how the bare rocks became covered with vegeta-
tion, and fit for the habitation of man. Times
and times have I passed an old stone wall, and
thought of the lesson' which Aunt Mary taught;
and there is many an old abbey and gaunt cas-
tellated tower which speaks to me of another
story as interesting and romantic as the legends
and traditions connected with the scene.
It was but an old piece of stone, one of the








The Story of an Old Wall. 35

stones of the old wall which bounded the manor-
house, but every stain which seemed but the
mark of the finger of Time was the germ of some
plant, which, as Aunt Mary told us in simple
language, showed us how every object in Nature
had its appointed mission in the world. The
grey stain, the black mark, were equally mem-
bers of the tribe of lichens, as the crested tea-like
moss on the little twig, and the bright orange
patch which clung so closely to the bark of the
old elm-tree. They differed, she told us, from
all their allied plants by their not feeding or de-
riving nutriment from the substance on which
they grow. They are truly the plants of the
air; their minute seeds or fruit are borne on the
wings of the wind until they find a suitable
home, wherever it may be. On the borders
of the eternal snow, on the tops of the mighty
hills, these simple lichens are found. Some love
the dash of the wild sea wave, and others are
heedless of the burning sun. Scarcely has the
D2








36 The Slory of an Old Wall.

naked rock been exposed to view, or the stone
left the mason's hand, ere it becomes the home
of one of the members of the six families into
which lichens are divided. You may see the faint
speck gradually spreading onwards until it be-
comes a round flat patch. These patches, when
black, frequently resemble the characters of
Oriental handwriting, and are distinguished by
the name of Graphidei; a common one is Ope-
grapha saxatilis. How singular did this hand-
writing seem on the old stone The rough grey
substance was Lecanora parclla, known as the
crab's eye lichen. Another had some similarity
to a map; this was Lccidca geograph/ica, the
map lichen, and you seemed as if you could
trace the rivers meandering amongst the moun-
tains and plains of the miniature world as you
gazed on its greenish surface. All these are at-
tached firmly to the stone on which they grow;
their whole nature is devoted to clasping the ob-
ject to which they are attached. The opegrapia








The Story of an Old Wall. 37

enable persons to discover various kinds of me-
dicinal bark. The dirty-white lecanora is, on the
contrary, of intrinsic value as a crimson and
purple dye, and it has a brown relative which
forms the cudbear of commerce, and is common
in Scotland and Scandinavia. The lecidinei are
distributed all over the globe; they are uninjured
by the sharpest frost, and bear the hottest sun with
impunity. They include the reindeer-moss, and
the pretty chalice or cup moss (Cenomyce pyxi-
data), which we find so commonly on old wood
and ancient stones, as if to provide elegant
drinking-cups for all the kind fairies of the world
of childhood.
But what fairy-world could equal the one of
which Aunt Mary was telling us ? The leafy
lichen, so much like green tea, and its orange-
tinted companion beside it, which we found on
every odd branch and twig of the pieces of wood
which lay upon the table, were the representa-
tives of the widely distributed and universal








38 The Slory of an Old Wall.

Parnmlia. We had seen the yellow one (P.paric-
tina) shining on the tree-trunks, and the grey one
(P. saxatilis) everywhere; but who would dream
that they belonged to a brotherhood of plants so
humble and so common that they furnished the
costly dyes for the imperial purple of the Roman
emperors in the height of their pride, and that
even now their tropical brother (Parmclia pcr-
lata) is worth on an average 20ol. per ton for
dyeing purposes ? Some of this family are used
for esculents, some for medicine, and others, as
we have seen, for the staining of our garments,
and have been so used from the most ancient
times. All the lichens useful in the arts are
obtained from Parmeliacece, the family name
of the group, which has no common name in
English.
So these minute weather stains were useful.
Under the microscope they display further won-
ders; but in the economy of the universe they
play a still greater part. They collect each








The Story of an Old Wall. 39

floating particle of dust, each minute seed of
larger varieties borne on the wings of the hurri-
cane or the evening breeze. They care not for
rain; they heed not the sun. They suffer them-
selves to be so frozen, that a slice of their tips
can be cut off during severe weather. As they
become thicker and older they afford a home for
other plants. They secrete oxalic acid, and this
corrodes the surface of the stone. The mosses
creep up, the stray seed of one of the grasses
adds its mite to the gradually accumulating
mould, on which the mosses feed, until they cover
the whole surface of the once bare stone, and
make it fit for the higher plants in the scale of
creation. Even on one of the stones from the old
wall one of the Polypodics had found a home, and
showed its round orange-tinted spores above the
brilliant moss, which crept so gracefully over the
stones. A few insects crept in and out; a chry-
salis or two lay hidden amongst the moss. Thus
the endless forms of vegetable and animal life








40 The Story of an Old Wall.

went hand in hand together, and thus the old
stone repeated the lesson of the world to us,
when expounded by Aunt Mary.
Could any day be dreary now? When the
rain ceased, as it does so frequently in the mid-
land shires shortly after noontide, we could ven-
ture forth to the old wall itself, on which the ivy
climbed, and the ivy-leaved speedwell peeped
through the crevices. In our visit to the
spinney, we could see the many-coloured lichens
and bright moss that covered trunks and
branches. Here and there the fantastic shapes
of the various species of fungi could be seen
clasping the decaying root of an old tree, or
firmly fixed to the branches of the living tree.
The orange-tinted, greasy-looking substance
which we were told was known as "witches'
butter," was to be seen in the hollows of the
hedgerows. This was the fungi known as Tre-
mclla mnesenterica, and was the typical genus of
a large order of fungi. How different to the








The Story of an Old Wall. 41

dirty-looking tufts, like candle-snuffs, which
grew on the old gate-posts, and on the old roots
in the spinney, which I subsequently learned to
know as Xylaria hypoxylon. Another brown
substance I found also belonged to a large genus
of the fungi family, known as Polypori (P. squa-
mosus), yet, forbidding as it looked, was not un-
wholesome to eat, though coarse, and there is
one member of this genus (P. sacer) which is an
object of worship in Guinea, whilst several
varieties on the Continent are used constantly as
articles of food. All this was new to me, when
explained by Aunt Mary, for even Tom knew
them only by the common name of Toadstools,
like country people generally.

How different are the closes of each year !
Old Nature seems to change her garb and dress
With all her child's (fair woman's) fickleness;
For sometimes at this season she'll appear
In robes of snowy whiteness-sometimes clad
In rainbow hues of summer morning skies,
Bedeck'd in field and grove with thousand dyes
Of gaiety-and then again how sad








42 The Slory of an Old WIall.

Will be her gloomy cloak and stormy train !
Alas how like the closing hours of life !
Some hope-led, smiling on their present pains-
Others, with horrors darkly impending rife,-
Some scoffing at the sunset of their soul
On Earth! Some running upward to heaven's goal."

In the afternoon, after we had wandered by
the pool side, and watched the baldcoots diving,
and moorhens whirring over the tops of the
sedges which hung their brown heads over the
pool, where the piped stem of the mare'stail
could yet be distinguished, and the tall reed
mace, with its clubbed head, waved far above the
brown feathers of the common reed, here and
there a wild duck was started, and our bold
terriers dashed after them, but in vain. How
strange everything seemed to me; what fresh
interests had been awakened in me, since I lay
so still and silent in the solemn chamber at the
vestibule of death. I was now awakening to
renewed life and health, while the Old Year lay
a dying.








The Story of an Old Wall. 43

The bright winter furze smiled a golden wel-
come to me. There were merry voices at the
old Grange. There was a dear companion at
my side, and if the wind grew chilly and sharp,
there was a warm welcome, and warm hearts to
bid Christmas God speed, and welcome in the
New Year.







,Z-

















CHAPTER V.

TIIE BIRTH OF THE YEAR.

On all thy trees, on every bough,
Thousands of crystals sparkle now,
Where'er our eyes alight.
Firm on the spotless robe we tread,
Which o'er thy beauteous form is spread
With glittering hoar-frost bright."

.;i- S ITE sun peeped in at the window bright
n!d clear. The dull haze had dis-
appeared, and now the sky shone bril-
liantly overhead. It was of that steel-like
bright hue which is only seen on sharp wintry
mornings. There was a stillness around as if
Nature was in truth hushed to sleep, or bound
in iron fetters from which it could not stir. The
glass of the windows shamed the white dimity
curtains by their pearly whiteness and foliated








The Birth of the Year. 45

patterns anon running like trees of diamonds,
and now breaking into star-like coruscations of
marvellous beauty. No fairyland could equal
the beauty of the landscape. The transforma-
tion of the trees into crystal tracery had been so
instantaneous that one could hardly believe that
the scene was the same that loomed through the
mist on the previous evening. Every blade of
grass had its own individual garniture of snowy
rime; every leaf in the laurestina-bushes had its
special fringe of delicate frosty stars; the
hedges seemed loaded with loveliness, as each
overladen twig sparkled in the sunlight; the
woodlands were full of glory, and even the tall
naked stem of the sturdy cow-parsnip had been
clothed with beauty. The leafless woods were
hung-

With forms so various that no powers of art,
The pencil, or the pen, may trace the scene,
And glittering turrets rise up-heading high,
Large growths of what may seem the sparkling trees,
And shrubs of Fairyland."








46 The Birth of the Year.

The ground felt crisp beneath the foot, and as
the tom-tit, as the blue titmouse is called, clung
to the branches of the apple-trees, a shower of
star-spangles fell to the earth.
Around the farm buildings there were flocks
of small birds, which had come thither for food
and shelter. The pretty finches were there, but
the pert and pugnacious sparrow was, however,
foremost of them all. The larks hovered round
the stubble-fields, but did not dare to come so
near the homestead; for it requires a very iard
winter to make them emulate the sparrow or
the familiar robin, who would publicly rob the
chickens of their supply of corn, and feed with
the pigeons.
All this was new to me. The Christmas rose
that showed its handsome flowers in the garden,
and the winter aconite, which together with
the Laurestinus and a struggling China rose
which clung to the wall of the old Manor House,
formed the only nosegay of the year.







The Birth of the Year. 47

In the course of the morning the wind and
the sun had destroyed all this fairy-like fabric,
and left the bare twigs holding aloft

"The last red leaf, the last of its clan,
That dances as high as dance it can,
On the topmost branch that looks up at the sky."

A few red hips remained on the rose bushes,
and here and there a tuft of cankers or fairy
pin-cushions, as the rough excrescences on the
wild briers are called by the country folk. A
white dead nettle showed itself by the hedge-
side, but there were no other flowers to remind
one of the bright glories of the summer. A few
spikes of ground ivy, an odd leave or two-rough
and strong-smelling leaves they were of the
hedge garlic-the palm-like but dwarfed leaves
of the fruitless white strawberry, was all we had
to see in our walk; but there was merry music
in the village, the Morris dancers were out in
their grotesque finery and tawdry dresses, with
pipe and tabor, hautboy, fiddle, and drum,








48 The Birth of the Year.

dancing and collecting pence for the wassail
bowl. It was one of the old customs which yet
lingered like Plough Monday in this nook of
England's heart. What laughable fun it was to
see the rustics, and to notice their grotesque
attitudes and absurd dresses, as they pranced
about the paved court of the old manor. But
ere they had finished their antics, there were
indications that the weather was becoming cold
and frosty. There were anticipations of a hard
winter, of glorious .Zl: itit;!, of a chance at the
wild ducks and waterfowl; ay, even at the wild
geese, which frequently visited the big pool in
the hard weather.
The next day was frosty, but still not so
severe as to freeze over the moat; but it made
the roads sufficiently hard to travel comfortable
over from village to village. It enabled us to
have some inspiriting trots along bye-lanes to
lone farmhouses, where we were hospitably re-
ceived and welcomed. To the little market-








The Birth of tIe Year. 49

town, where the clatter of the new hand-looms,
and the occasional harsh clang of the ratche-
cumdown" stocking frames, which gave a long
grating bur-r-r, and finished with an unearthly
clatter, far from being agreeable to a non-
musical ear, and yet these weavers and stock-
ingers were musical people, fond of har-
mony and of concerts, as if to prove Falstaff
right, and to show that singing was natural to
weavers.
The moat bore at last, and then we had a
glorious skating along the canals and over the
pools. Villagers and townspeople came and
joined us in sliding and skating. Guns were pop-
ping in every lane at the unfortunate fieldfares.
The bright bonny wood-fires blazed. The
purple elder-wine was brought out in delicate
china cups, with thin toast for the ladies, who
seemed to enjoy the spicy and sweet home-made
wines, as well as the sturdy farmers did the
brown beer of the March or October brew, and
E








50 The Birth of the Year.

the huge hunches of bread and cheese. What
an enormous quantity of mince-pies were con-
sumed. What merry feasting we had, until Tom
and I began to tire of going to and fro with
messages and bringing back presents; and if we
were tired, the old pony and the mule were more
than we were. In the midst of all this we did
not trouble Aunt Mary for any stories. We
listened now to the tales of big runs with the
hounds, to a good day's shooting, to the descrip-
tion of Flyaway's tie with Roseleaf at the last
coursing-match, to the probability of the county
being contested at the next election, and to the
forthcoming marriage of the squire's daughter.
Tom's sisters wanted us for partners, or to play
at forfeits, to get them more red berries from the
holly-trees for chaplets. We went one day to
the squire's to a shooting-party, and saw the
pheasants slaughtered by the dozen, but the
shooting of pheasants was not half such fun as
the shooting of sparrows. I believe, too, we








The Birth of the Year. 51

thought the pie made of the latter equally as
good as the roasted denizens of the squire's
preserves.
The snow, too, came in big flakes. It came
"tumbling down over and over, as Tom said, like
the old woman sending her feathers to market.
Now, again, we had recourse to Aunt Mary's
microscope, to observe the beautiful crystals of the
snow, to admire the elegant six-pointed stars,
and their various ramifications. If the humble
lichens had a story to tell of usefulness and of
knowledge, the white and stainless snow had its
tale of endless and of varying beauty. It loaded
the trees, it covered the meadows, it piled itself
on the roofs of the farm buildings, it drifted into
the hollows, and formed quaint ridges on the
furrowed fields.
"No more skating awhile," said Tom.
"An old-fashioned winter though," said the
father.
"Fine tracking for the polecat," was old Jack's
E2








52 The Birth of the Year.

commentary. The shepherd thought of the early
lambs, and Mrs. Elton and the girls of the poor
and the birds.
It was the last day of the year. There were
indications of a long-continued deep snow, and
the farm labourers looked forward to a period of
enjoyment and of sport in tracking the hares
through the snow, or in trapping the moles and
snaring the weasels. The poor squirrels would
fare hardly in such weather; but they, and the
dormouse, and bat are fast asleep in snug cor-
ners, and there they will lie till the frost is gone,
and the warm sun awakens them from their
winter's slumber.
In this frost I first learnt one of the mysteries of
Providence with respect to the buds on the trees,
which always remain safe in their various tinted
sheaths, securely wrapped in close folds, defying
the sharp frost, while they remain attached to
the parent tree; yet if we cut one off and leave
it on its old branch, it will become frozen through









The Birth of the Year. 53

and through. It loses its principle of life the
moment it is cut from the tree, where its fellows
remain unfrozen and secure, waiting for the
warm sun of gentle spring to unfold them-
selves.
Thus the year ended wrapped in its white
funereal pall. Fantastic masses hung from the
branches of the trees, bearing them down with
such force as to cause them to crack again with
their weight. As the day closed we could hear
the strange .*;in;'!l; of the trees. The ever-
greens seemed like grim spectres as the bright
lights from the Grange windows flashed on them
in the L. :l.-!i. ,darkness. Yet there is bright-
ness within. A merry party have been gathered
together. There are mince-pies to be eaten;
spiced wines to be drunk. Games and jollity
rule-the fast-speeding time until midnight draws
near.
Hark! from over the snow there comes the
merry sound of the church bells.









54 The Birth of Ite Year.

Brave hearts are listening in the town
For the first soft chime of midnight;
For the shout goes up, 'Hail, New Year, hail !
Bring strength and courage that ne'er shall fail
To carry us through Earth's midnight.'

Bless the bells, for angel hands
Have tuned their notes at midnight,
That so to every heart their voice
Shall sound 'The New Year's come, rejoice
God's gift to men this midnight.' "

The ringers are pealing forth the death of the
Old Year, while "the wintry winds are wearily
sighing." There is merry dancing at the Old
Grange. There are two boys playing at Beggar
my Neighbour," and some of the old labourers
who have come forth to the old house to see the
" old year out, and the new year in," are drink-
ing warm toast and ale, and playing at "All
Fours." The fiddlers play merrily, regardless of
the flight of time, till the clock strikes, and each
wishes one another
A HAPPY NEW YEAR!
What pleasant wishes, for they know not who




































































"PEALING FORTH THE DEATH OF THE OLD YEAR."








The Birth of the Year. 55

will be there next year, or how many will be
lying beneath the snowy pall. Now they listen
to the bells that chime so cheerful a welcome to
the new year.
Long after I was in bed, I could hear the loud
laughter, and the joking about the "first foot"
over the threshold; and as I slept, I dreamt
that I was indeed dancing Sir Roger de Cover-
ley again with Aunt Mary and kissing Cis under
the misletoe, or playing at blindman's buff in the
kitchen, amid roars of laughter. I had a vision,
too, of my mother smiling on her boy on that
new year's morning, rejoicing that he was yet
spared to her. I had hardly been asleep, it
seemed to me, when the daylight streamed in at
the window so white and so cold. It was a
"Happy new year to every one, to the ringers
in the belfry, to the old in the cottages; the
year of fresh hopes was come; grand resolutions
were made ; new leaves were popularly supposed
to be turned over, and old ones were forgotten,









56 The Birth of the Year.

To some the Old Year had truly given a friend,

and a true, true love," and they were indeed

afraid that the old one would take him away.

Yet old and young wished all and all-" A

Happy New Year."














-I -- '
f./, .,j
"_ ':. v
-.P ~ -;(*


















CHAPTER VI

HOW WE HUNTED STRANGE ANIMALS AND
KILLED SMALL DEER.

Every season
Shall have its suited pastime; even winter
In its deep noon."

I -D JACK, the hanger-on-half groom,
half gamekeeper-at Grassbrooke, was
a curiosity in his way. He was one of
those strange beings who, though possessed of
great natural gifts, never seemed to have turned
them to any account, and had settled down as a
sort of favoured dependent at Mr. Elton's. I
never could understand his exact position in the
family. He attended to the brewery, he trimmed
up the garden, shot or trapped the rabbits, and








58 How we huntzed Stfrange Anzimzals.

went off periodically with a pony and cart to the
market-town, taking with him eggs, butter, and
poultry, which were Mrs. Elton's perquisites, and
returning with groceries and butcher's meat, not
to mention the odd knick-knacks of the young
ladies. But his delight on a winter's night was
to get Tom and me by the ingle-side, and show
us how to make mole-traps, or to fashion some
special and deadly trolling tackle. He too had
a wonderful knack of making models of thatched
cottages, which formed pleasant-looking orna-
ments, whilst they answered for a tea-caddy,
cabinet, or workbox. Jack was not much of an
artist, and I won his heart by showing that bricks
were not so unmistakably and glaringly red,
or the mortar so staringly white, as he made
them. I showed him how to subdue and
blend the colours so as to produce a picturesque
effect. He taught me in return how deftly he
could use his coarse rough fingers to form the
long moss into pretty creepers to imitate ivy








How zue lunted Strange Animals. 59

and other picturesque additions to his cottages.
He could also inlay picture-frames and tables
with fancy woods in divers patterns and forms,
with no other tools than his pocket-knife and a
small chisel of peculiar shape, which he had
made himself. I used to think old Jack would
have been a most successful artisan if he had not
a slight stiffness in.his right arm. I had heard
that there was a story connected with the stiff-
ness of Jack's arm, but what it was I did not
learn until long after I first knew him.
There had been alternately thaw and frost for
a week or two, when one morning Jack announced
that there had been some big animal seen in the
spinney, and that it accounted for some strange
tracks that had been seen in the snow. What
could it be ?
Dick Hodge, the ploughman, thought it was
as big as a pig; but the shepherd, who had seen
it on a clear moonlight night, said he was sure
" it war bigger than a fox, but not so lissom."








60 How we hunted Strange Animals.

Tom proposed that we should have a hunt, and
see what the animal was like; but Jack would
not consent until Mr. Elton had given his per-
mission, and had invited the young squire and a
neighboring farmer or two to see the fun.
My heart beat wildly with excitement on the
morning fixed for the hunt. Our friends mus-
tered early; for, as Tom said, there was some
novelty in hunting an unknown animal which
might have escaped from a travelling menagerie.
Off our motley train went to the spinney, Hodge
and the shepherd acting as guides to the spot
where the animal had been seen last. We
had more than a dozen terriers with us, not
to mention a few long-legged lurchers from the
village; for the news of the "varmint" had
spread, and we had half a hundred volunteers
and lookers-on.
There was much laughing and joking on our
way to the spinney, and not a few quarrels
amongst the dogs to settle ere we reached the








How we hunted Strange Animals. 61

scene of action. When we arrived there, Tom's
father took the command.
"Now, lads," said he, "we must proceed cau-
tiously. Will Smith and Joe Smudge will take
the north side of the spinney with their terriers,
for we will keep the lurchers away from the
rabbits. Tompkins and the rest will remain on
the south side, so as to prevent the brute bolting
towards the house. We will beat the bushes
from the village to the road with the dogs. So
boys, be ready, and don't use firearms."
In went the dogs, but how unlike the well-
trained foxhounds! The young terriers, as
they came across the trail of a weasel or stoat,
gave mouth at once, whilst the older dogs
only whined as they passed some outlying rab-
bits' burrow.
"Ware ditch !" cried old Mr. Elton. Mind,
Tom," said he. Here, Harry, let me catch
your hand as we jump the boundary :" and over
we went. 'The terriers fell in, and splashed








62 How we Hunted Strange Animals.

about the water; and one or two of the villagers
managed to slip in, amid the laughter and jeers
of their fellows. Half the spinney had now
been traversed, but no sign of the beast had
been perceived. We called a halt, and a council
of war.
We had not long to deliberate. There's
Snap at something !" said Jack, hurriedly, as a
sharp bark and growl came through the bushes,
followed by a regular chorus of sharp barks.
" It's a badger, by all that's ugly!" said Jack.
" Hurrah, boys, for fun !"
Just then we saw a black bushy thing cross
one of the footways, backwards, facing two or
three of the terriers, who were snapping at him.
He's making for the old fox-earth," said
Tom. Run, Jack, and stop it."
No," said Tom's father; give him a chance,
and we can dig him out if the dogs can't draw
him."
Fighting as they went, the old dog badger had







How we hunted Strange Animals. 63

the best of it. More than one terrier's courage
failed him, as he felt the strange animal's sharp
teeth or claw. We had reached the open space
near the fox-earth, when the badger made a
rush for the shelter.
Hi, Toby !" shouted Jack, as the bold bull-
terrier rushed at the badger, and tumbled him
over.
"Now for a sack !" shouted Tompkins, who
had evidently seen a little badger-hunting before;
but ere the sack was ready, the badger had re-
covered his footing, and again showed battle.
Jack whispered to Mr. Elton, who nodded.
Jack stepped forward, "stopped the earth," as
it was termed, just as the badger was edging
towards its friendly shelter. The dogs were
called off, and the badger secured in a sack in a
few minutes, and was borne in triumph to the
Grange, where he was kept for a long time in a
special outhouse of his own.
I confess that now I feel that I was disap-







64 How we hunted Strange Animals.

pointed at this termination of our day's adven-
ture; for my blood was up, and I had no
thought but of the fight. I learned afterwards
that the reason why the earth was stopped was
to prevent the badger being dug out at night by
the villagers, and regularly baited in the neigh-
bouring town. Jack had therefore suggested his
instant capture, so as to leave no doubt as to
the poor animal's future fate.
There was a jovial luncheon that day at the
Grange, for the hangers-on knew that they
would get some bread and cheese and beer,
whilst the neighbours were regaled inside. At
the luncheon Tom reminded his father of his
promise that they should have a good rat-hunt.
The dogs were there, the ferrets handy, and as
they had already spoiled the morning, they
might as well make a day of it.
The young squire seconded Tom's proposal
for a raid on the farmer's worst enemy, as he
had brought a couple of young terriers. Old








How we hunted Strange Animals. 65

Wilkins, of the Hute Farm, supported the
movement, and invited us all the next day to
his farm for the same purpose. Jack was called
in, and a score of willing hands were soon ready
for the onslaught.
"The upper rickyard first," said Mr. Elton,
" whilst the men are removing the best part of
the lower into the barn."
The upper rickyard drew blank," or nearly
so, for the corn-stacks were reared on high stands
to prevent the inroads of the rats. The lower
rickyard presented a sight I never shall forget.
When we reached it, two of the wheat-ricks had
been partially removed into the barn for thresh-
ing on the morrow. Round the yard stood the
anxious men and dogs, in two files, at some dis-
tance apart. As the straw was disturbed, a pair
of bright bead-like eyes peeped through the
lower part of the stack, but quickly disappeared
again.
"Ready !" screamed Tompkins, as down went
F








66 How we hunted Strange Animals.

the forks through the half-rotten and honey-
combed rick, where the rats had been feasting
during the autumn months on good corn which
would have fed a score of families. But their
day of retribution had come. Their city was
besieged, and a remorseless enemy was out-
side. Every terrier was ready, and every man
and boy, and not a few women, were there,
armed with sticks and other weapons for their
destruction.
Ready !" responded a score of voices, and
half a hundred rats jumped out of the rick into
the open space. "Now, Snap!" "Well done,
Tip !" At 'em, Toby !" resounded on all sides
in every tone of encouragement, mingled with
the heavy thud of the sticks as they touched
the ground when the blows failed to hit the
luckless rats. The excitement grew intense as
the ground became strewed with dead rats, for
the practised terriers generally killed them at
one bite. Scores of rats had escaped to the next








How we hunted Strange Animals. 67

rick, only to find the same fate awaiting them
ere they could tell their neighbours the ills that
had befallen them ; and ere the darkness came
o'er the sky, we had killed no less than nine
hundred rats, to the great delight of Mr. Elton,
who thanked his neighbours for their help. The
cold weather had driven the outlying rats into
the farmyards and hence the heavy mortality.
The next day at the Hute Farm there were
more killed, and Jack told me that once he had
known two thousand killed at a farmer's house,
who when wheat was scarce kept his, in hopes of
a higher price, until it was nearly all eaten by
the rats-a fitting punishment for such cruel
avarice.









F 2











"- '





CHAPTER VII.

A HUMBLE HERO-ST. VALENTINE,

Let not ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys and destiny obscure;
Nor grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
The short and simple annals of the poor."

Blessed be St. Valentine !
For on this day I choose you to be mine."

B~- HE days of my sojourn at Grassbrooke
were drawing to a close, and I was to
leave the dear old place which had
grown so familiar to me. I was welcomed too
at every house for miles round, and at Leigh-
thorpe I was known by old and young. I knew
all the attendants at the parish church, and it
seemed as if I could not tire of the changing
life which the country people led. My sunny








A Humble Hero-St. Valentine. 69

memories of the spot afford me a thousand inci-
dents of those happy holidays. How I spent
pleasant hours with Aunt Mary and still plea-
santer walks with Cissy and her sisters. My dear
mother had asked the girls to pass a few days
with her in town, and this had been partly
agreed upon. The long January days had
merged into dull February almost without a
change, for the winter continued severe and the
long flights of wild geese had not yet begun to
wend southward. We had spent many a stir-
ring hour of the night in the old punt where the
little stream (for there are no big rivers in mid
England) had been widened out to form a fish-
pond by the side of the old moat and fish stews.
It was a wild, perhaps the wildest bit of scenery
in the neighbourhood, as there was a strip of
sandy heath just beyond it. Here the wild ducks
and baldcoots made their home, and here we
used to wait at night, in company with the old
retriever, for a shot at them. On these occasions,








70 A Hutmble Hero-St. Valentine.

Jack always made one of the party, but he would
never permit one of us to remain out longer than
nine o'clock, or when we felt chilly. It was on
one of these nights that I heard the story of
Jack's stiff arm.
It was long before either you or Tom was
born," said the stout old man, "that I left my
home in Northamptonshire yonder, out Kel-
marsh way, to earn a little extra money. I was
stout and strong--stronger than any man in the
parish; could mow more, dig more, work more
than any man I knew. I was clever and I knew
it. There was hardly anything that I saw but
what I could imitate. This made me enemies.
The farmers' sons did not like anybody to be
cleverer than themselves or to know more. So
when the old lord came down and was kind to
me they took care to poison his mind against the
tall son of his old shepherd. It was hard," said
the old man, to see how they turned my summer
visits to the Weald of Kent-where my skill in







A Humble Hero-St. Valentine. 71

mowing produced me three times as much money
as it did in the old parish-to my detriment. It
was true I always reached home ere the Holme
meadows had to be mowed, or else I need not
have showed my face in the parish again with a
view of obtaining employment or a livelihood
there. Still they did not like my being so inde-
pendent, and the vicar even spoke to me of the
sinfulness of being above one's station in life.
Things were getting black around me, and in
particular one old man named Wincote was very
dark towards me. I tell you this that you may
understand what followed. I had been absent
from home during the spring and summer
months, and had reached the old place to find
my father very ill and the meadows partially
down. As these were common meadows all the
parish had a voice in their culture and produce,
but on this occasion Farmer Wincote had pressed
forward the time of mowing, and as I was absent
it told against me in the parish.








72 A Humble Hero-St. Valentine.

"I can't expect you lads to understand this,
because the fields are now enclosed and times
are altered," continued old Jack; but what I
tell you is true. Wincote had invited two young
gentlemen to stay at his house with a view to
understand the mode of farming in that part of
the country, and he wished them, he said, to see
the haymaking in the meadows before they left.
When I came home I found that I was thought
to be in the wrong and was warned off the mea,
dows, and I was told that I might go the rest of
the year where I had been in the spring. I said
some hasty words, and the next night Wincote's
hayrick was on fire, and there was some talk of
its being the work of an incendiary. I found
that I was suspected. I went off during the
harvest months, and when winter came on I came
back hoping to find it all blown over. But the
ill feeling and suspicion continued to rankle in
their breasts. What was I to do? I resolved
to leave and earn my bread in Lancashire, where








A Humble Hero-St. Valczntine. 73

people with hands willing to work were welcome
always. The night before I left, as ill-luck would
have it, I was talking to one of my cousins, and
I saw a glare of yellow light against the sky.
We looked and saw that it was in the direction
of Wincote's house. The smoke began to roll
upwards, and there was no doubt that there was
another fire there. I ran and aroused some of
the villagers, sent one of them off for the engines,
and ran to the spot. I was first there, and I
found that the farm buildings were on fire in one
or two places close to the house. I tried to
arouse the inmates, but it was not until we had
broken some of the windows that we succeeded
in waking the servants and alarming the house-
hold. It was a hard frost and there was but
little water to be had. I had seen fires in Lon-
don, and I knew that all we could do was to save
the house if possible. I directed all the water
we could get for this purpose, but it was useless ;
there was a strong wind blowing and all our








74 A Humble Hero-St. Valentine.

efforts were in vain. The flames roared and
shrieked round the old house. The engine, when
it arrived, was useless or nearly so to stop the
flames.
"I thought of nothing save doing all I could
to arrest the fire, when suddenly there was a cry
that one of the young gentlemen was missing.
He had been forgotten in the confusion. Where
was he ? The fire had not touched where he
slept, but the smoke was suffocating. We reared
a ladder against the side of the house where his
room lay, but no one dare mount with almost
certain death before him. I rushed madly up,
smashed the window just as the young man
awoke. There was no time to be lost. I hur-
ried him back, but the ladder was gone. Whe-
ther they thought we were smothered, or whether
it was done purposely, or in ignorance, I know
not, but the young man was in despair. Death
was very close that night to us; the boards
were hot; we could hear the roaring of the







A Humble Hero-St. Valentine. 75

flames as they seized one part of the house after
another.
"' Mark David!' I cried to my brothers, but
they could not see me. There was only one way.
I took out my knife, cut the sacking of the bed,
uncorded it, and let the young fellow down. The
fire was hot around us, and the smoke had given
way to the bright glare of the flames. I could
see a hundred anxious eyes below me, and I
could feel the fire round me. They caught the
young man in their arms. I tied the line to the
casement, for I could not drag the bedstead
close enough. My feet were fearfully hot, and
I could feel that the floor beneath was on fire. I
sprang out of the window; the cord began to
slide through my fingers, but I had twisted it
round my leg, so I could tighten it as I pleased.
As I passed by the casement of the room be-
neath the flames burst out and scorched my face;
the rope gave way, and I fell senseless, and knew
no more.







76 A Humble Hero-St. Valentine.

"That was how I hurt my arm," said Jack,
"but that was not all. I lay ill for weeks, and
arose only to find that I was a beggar, with my
strength gone and my character more blasted
than my face."
The old man stopped, but Tom took up the
story.
"Ah," said he, "that young man was my
father; he too was ill from the shock of the fire,
and when he was able to move he found Jack
here in prison on a charge of setting fire to the
place. I have heard my grandmother tell the
story a score of times, and Aunt Mary too-how
they found out that the incendiary was one of
Wincote's nephews, and cleared Jack; and it
was not till years after that you would come and
live with us, which I hope you will do till you
have a better place to go to," said Tom, squeez-
ing his hand.
Jack brushed his cuff across his eyes, and said,
"Thank God, there is some gratitude in the








A Humble Hero-St. Valentine. 77

world yet; but it's time to get home now,
lads."
I looked at the weather-beaten old man, with
his ruined life and heroic deed, with feelings of
honourable respect. I learned that there were
many heroes in humble life whose deeds are to
be sought in their own short and simple annals
rather than in the records of the roll of the
Victoria Cross.
At length, in the first week of February, I bid
Grassbrooke farewell for a time. Tom departed
again for St. Werstan's, and I for home. I soon
found myself in its loving atmosphere, hallowed
by the presence of a mother, who gazed at the
rough-looking boy with mingled feelings of as-
tonishment and pleasure, for I had become
ruddy and strong during the time I had been
away.
Harry," said my father, a few days after I
had reached home, "you have seen many sights
since you have been away. If you come with








78 A Humble Hero-St. Valentine.

me to-day you shall see another-a strange one
too."
"What is it, father ?" I asked.
"Wait and see," he replied.
We went a short distance by rail, and alighted
at a pretty fashionable town, renowned for its
medicinal waters, and called at a plain house in
a short terrace, where we were ushered into a
counting-house which smelt strongly of some
perfume. A score or two of boxes lay about in
different directions, but there was nothing very
strange about it. Yet it was the birthplace of
many thousand valentines. In countless drawers
were sheets of figures, flowers, and ornaments-
the raw material of those ornate missives of
which St. Valentine is the patron saint.
My father transacted his business, and then
addressed the clerk, "Oh, by the bye, will you
let my boy see valentines in process of manufac-
ture? He has been trying his hand for some
time at them, and as it is near Valentine's-








A Humble Hero-St. Valentine. 79

day, I thought he would like to see the
sight."
"Yes, we make thousands of valentines,"
courteously replied the manager, "but strange
to say, not near Valentine's-day. They are made
in the summer. Now we are making summer
goods. Come and see !"
What a strange sight it was. A score of
young girls and women were engaged in different
rooms making those beautiful scent-sachets and
ornamental cards which we send to friends on their
birthday. I was fortunate enough to see a dozen
valentines made. I saw the flowers, Cupids, satin
verses, ornamental borders, fringed with lace, all
combined together by one of the young ladies so
quickly that I could scarcely believe my eyes.
Only a small order," the manager explained,
"of a pattern we had run out of."
I learned that one large manufactory was em-
ployed in producing the ornaments, another in
designing the paper, a third the gilt ornaments,








80 A IHumble Hero-St. Valentine.

a fourth the pearls and flowers. Printers and
poets, artists and papermakers, merchants and
traders, were all engaged in producing the hand-
some and beautiful offerings at the shrine of St.
Valentine which we see in the shop-windows. All
these diverse materials are combined according
to taste in a few places in the United Kingdom.
"There are two or three in London and one in
Leamington, but no one can tell exactly the ex-
tent of the sale per annum. The comic valen-
tines are another branch of industry, I learnt,
and did not necessarily belong to a general valen-
tine manufactory.
I had often wondered what valentine-makers
did the rest of the year, and here it was ex-
plained. You, gentle Cissy and Polly, as you
peep through the window-curtains on the morn-
ing of the festival of St. Valentine for the always
late postman, do not think that the perfumed
trifle which will reach you in a snug little box
by-and-bye was the product of so much skill and









--al






II !(Jl'//i II I
IDr







I 11











t U,4 cr~e








A Humble Hero-St. Valentine. 81

enterprise. You merely will think of the sender,
and guess whose handwriting is on the box, and
you will try to decipher the postmark, which is
hardly worth the trouble, considering that it has
been posted here. A thousand thousand hearts
are palpitating as well as yours, and wondering
where the postman can possibly be staying.






















G


















CHAPTER VIII.

MY VISIT TO IRELAND, AND WHAT I SAW.

ILL ony gintleman be pleased to tread
on the tail of me coat ?"
What boy has not heard the story
of the faction-fights at the fairs, when the Ma-
lonys beat the Hickeys, or the O'Fagans settled
accounts with the Keoghs ? That has now all
passed away. Yet when I spent my first holi-
day in Ireland they were common enough. The
excessive merriment of the fairs has been
sobered down, and so the wild spirits who loved
a fray have found other outlets for their fight-
ing propensities.
Sparkling and bright, like a gem in chased








/i'r Visit to Ireland, and what I saw. 83

gold, was my first visit to Ireland. My heart
was young, and I enjoyed the change. It was
connected too with the most exciting adventure
of my early days. It came with a keen sense
of happiness, which has been wanting in later
life. There I saw an Irish fair. It happened
that my father was connected in some way with
the extensive works of the mining company of
Ireland, and it was a joyous moment when he
announced his intended journey. Ireland was a
terra incognita indeed at that time. It was the
Ireland of O'Connell, the Ireland of Lever, the
Ireland of Lover, just tinged with troublous times
from the Young Irelanders," as they were
called, led by Smith O'Brien. To me it was but
the land of romance, the fabled country of my
imagination. It meant a long journey, which
would include a sea voyage, and that was enough
to lend a charm to any holiday. I remember
well every incident of the journey, along the
pleasant slopes of the vale of White Horse, across
G2








84 My Visit to Ireland, and what I saw.

the plains of North Wilts, by the beautiful city of
Bath, to the old queen of western sea-ports-
the birthplace of the most marvellous boy that
ever lived, Thomas Chatterton. Whilst in
Bristol we went to see the stately church of St.
Mary Redcliffe, in the muniment room of which
Chatterton stated that he found those strange
poems which he had produced from his vivid
imagination-an imagination so perverted as to
deceive the literary world by a false assumption
of antiquity. An old friend read some of the
poems as we went through the ancient streets of
Bristol. He pointed out the spot which Chat-
terton had peopled with his bygone martyrs.
Chatterton too had formed such high notions
of a great character, that his career is most
astounding. He speaks of one who-
Summ'd the actions of the day
Each night before he slept."

He puts into the mouth of Bawdun, when re-
buking the tyrant,-








My Visit to Ireland, and what I saw. 85

Behold the man; he speaks the truth :
He's greater than a king."

Yet this "marvellous boy," who could write sen-
timents like these, and give birth to such
noble thoughts, fell away like a bubble on the
water, and ultimately died by his own hand,
because he would not recognize the truth that
work is the only road to success, and he was
too impatient to brook control and continuous
labour.
We could hear the bells of St. Mary's 1. -.ln;'
sweetly over the old city as the steamer left the
dock, and we moved slowly onward down the
Avon towards the sea. Now we passed the
terraces of the beautiful suburb of Clifton ; then
through that terrific gorge known as St. Vin-
cent's Rocks, about which they tell a pleasant
legend. To me all this was so novel that I
hardly felt the cold, sharp breeze of a harsh
March wind. There lay Clevedon, and, just be-
yond, the pretty bay of Weston-super-Mare on








86 Miy Visit to Ireland, and what I saw.

the south, bathed in sunlight; whilst the haze
on our right proclaimed the neighbourhood of
Cardiff, and its fleet of colliers. The steamer
was a slow one, but for this I did not care, as it
afforded us an opportunity of seeing the de-
lightful coast of North Devon, now near, and
then far off in the hazy distance. The pic-
turesque Ilfracombe, and the Eden-like Clovelly,
could just be discerned before we left that side
of the Channel, and began to sight the rugged
cliffs of South Wales. It was dark when the
light of 1.I!!.. Haven shone brightly forth,
and we turned in; for the nasty cross seas
of the Irish Channel had made themselves
felt on our squeamish stomachs. It was my
first dismal taste of the nmal de mcr, but I
would endure it again for the chance of another
such holiday.
When morning dawned we were on the scene
of a thousand shipwrecks. The mystic coast lay
before us, enveloped in a vapour. Far off on the








My Visit to Ireland, and what I saw. 8 7

south the bright light of the Connibeg lightship
was easily seen. Hook Tower, with its brown
bands, was in front of us; and close at hand the
sea was lashed into fury as the surf rolled round
some black and twisted bars, which seemed like
the arms of a gigantic Triton appealing for
mercy.
"Fierce breakers ahead, Captain," said my
father.
"Yes," was the reply; "many a gallant ship
has gone down on that rock, and has not left a
soul to tell her tale of woe. The rock is covered
at half-tide, and the spars you see are the re-
mains of a lighthouse, which has been attempted
to be built there time after time, but a real sou'-
wester comes and tears it all away."
My father mentioned that he once passed the
rocks when the lightship was torn from her
moorings, and carried off towards the Welsh
coast.
The captain told us that it had happened more





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