The Baldwin Library
fm ~ University
S, *,.-- -
THE SNOW-SWEEPERS' PARTY.
THE SNOW-SWEEPERS' PARTY.-ARRIVAL OF THE GUEsrs.-See p. 58-
The Tale of Old Tubbins.
ROBERT ST. JOHN CORBET.
AUTHOR OF "MINCE-PIE ISLAND," RALPHH LUTTREL'S FORTUNES,"
"THE HOLIDAY CAMP," QUEEN OF THE TOURNAMENT," ETC.
WILLIAM P. NIMMO.
THE MONEY BOXES, 9
COUNTING THE COINS, 20
ARRANGING THE MONEY BOX DINNER, 32
THE SNOW-SWEEPERS' TOILETS, 44
THE GUESTS ARRIVE, 45
AT DINNER, 66
THE TALE OF OLD TUBBINS, 78
THE VICAR'S DISCOVERY, . 92
ON THE TRACK OF THE THIEF, . 104
THE TRIAL AND SENTENCE, 117
A GREAT SURPRISE AND DISCOVERY, 127
WATCHING FOR TIE HERMIT'S APPEARANCE, 136
THE HERMIT AT TEA, .. 151
THE HERMIT STOCKING HIS LARDER, 164
THE ADMIRAL RECOGNIZES THE HERMIT, 176
BIDDING GOOD-BYE TO THE HUT, 188
POOR OLD JOHN, 201
GOOD NIGHT, SNOW-SWEEPERS, 213
cHillie anb bit,
YOCKLETON HALL, SALOP,
WITH MY LOVE.
THE SNOW-SWEEPERS' PARTY.
HO invented Money-boxes?
This is a question which I am afraid I
cannot answer, nor can I venture to say
positively if the boxes came into existence about the
time when money was invented.
In very very early days the Ancient Britons, our
ancestors, used to buy and sell with funny bits of tin
and odd pieces of iron and brass made into rings, and
fashioned into other simple shapes; and I daresay
they had rough, rudely made boxes in which to keep
this queer-looking money. Such boxes, however,
would be their banks, whereas ours are rather de-
Io THE SNOW-SW .EEPERS' PARTY.
tached wooden pockets. An Ancient Briton, more-
over, would not think of having any box at all until
he was grown up, because there was no Everton in
those days to tempt him with toffee, nor tops and
marbles on which to spend his comical brass rings:
so he would begin with a big chest of some sort, which
would be his bank, the safe place in which he would
keep his rings for trading purposes. We, as you know,
look upon our money-boxes as nets in which to
catch stray pennies, sixpences and shillings, and at cer-
tain times we haul in the net, and look at the fish our
friends and relations have kindly allowed us to catch.
Our fish do not differ very much in appearance, but
only fancy what a queer basketful our early ancestors
would have had, supposing they had possessed money-
boxes as boys and girls : fancy the queer collection of
bits of tin, of brass and iron, dropped in by ancient
British uncles, aunts, and cousins We must not forget,
however, that in time the Britons gave up their very
funny equivalents to our pennies and shillings, and
took to making coins which may be called the ances-
tors of those now in use. Twenty-three years before
the first Christmas Day, that is to say about 2000 years
ago, King Cunobelinus struck the first coin made in
THE MONEY-BOXES. 11
England. According to a picture, it seems to have
had no device at all upon one side, but upon the other
there is rudely represented something which looks
like a horse, and something resembling a wheel.
Doubtless a horse and war-chariot are intended, for in
another coin we have a capital representation of a
warrior driving over a prostrate foe. Subsequent
coins struck by Cunobelinus were a great improve-
ment upon his first, and in the times of brave Queen
Boadicea and of Caractacus, names with which you
will become very well acquainted some day, money
was beginning to look quite smart.
What, however, has been the history of money-boxes
I cannot tell you at all: it is enough, perhaps, for us
to know that they still exist and that they are very de-
lightful possessions. Wooden pockets which are
either locked or sealed, are far better guardians of
pennies and sixpences than those which we have in
our frocks and trousers; so when we want to save, we
very wisely transfer our coins to boxes which are not
only secure against thieves but to some extent, against
ourselves also. Of course it is not in a miserly spirit
that we save up our money: we do not hoard our
little goods for the mere pleasure of looking at them,
I2 THE SNO W-SWEEPERS' PARTY.
but with the intention some day of making use of
them either for our own enjoyment or for the benefit
of others. Saving is the first step toward giving, and
giving to others is the very greatest pleasure which
we can buy with our savings: moreover, if we con-
template giving ourselves a treat, nothing is pleasanter
than to feel that it is purchased with our own saved
At the time when this story opens, a little boy and
girl were on the point of peeping into their two
money-boxes : these wooden pockets had been taking
care of all sorts of coins for the last ten years, and
judging by their great weight, the contents were likely
to prove very valuable. The boxes had been peeped
into five or six times, but the money had never been
counted: occasionally the pennies and sixpences had
been liberated to be played with, and the sum taken
out for this purpose had been counted, but nobody
knew the total value of all that had been put into the
Mr Howe had bought these boxes for his little boy
and girl when they were a month old, and as Fred and
Dora were twins they had each owned one for the
space of ten years. This is a very long while, indeed,
THE MONE Y-BOXES. 13
to keep a money-box, but of course it was some
time before the twins were old enough to know that
they had such a possession at all: then they had pic-
ture books and toys of various kinds to occupy their
attention, so it was not until each was seven that the
ownership of a wooden pocket was fully appreciated.
It had long been settled that the adding up of the coins
should take place on Fred's and Dora's tenth birth-day,
and after due consultation it was decided that the
money should be spent in the three following ways :-
i. Some spent on friends or the poor.
2. Some on the owners.
3. Some put in a Savings' Bank.
The next question to decide was the proportions in
which the money should be so divided, and to help
them to settle this, the twins called in their eldest
"Well, what do you say to giving away all the
pennies?" said Polly, after a little reflection, "the
boxes are very heavy and I should fancy there must
be a great number of pennies in them. We are not
required to give away either to friends or the poor the
greatest portion of our goods, so you would not be at
all selfish if you kept the gold and silver for yourselves
14 THE SNOW-SWEEPERS' PARTY.
and the Bank. If I were you, I should decide to give
away all the pennies: then I should fix upon a sum
for present use and a sum to take to school next June,
and all the rest I should put into the Savings' Bank.
There, that is my advice; now, what do you think of
it ? The twins thought no advice could possibly be
better, and then they weighed the boxes in their hands
to see if they could guess at all how many pennies
they might contain.
No birthday had ever been so eagerly looked for-
ward to as this tenth, not because the children were
to have some unusual treat in the evening, but because
immediately after breakfast the long-locked boxes
were to be opened. It was two years since the coins
had been played with, two years since the keys had
been hidden in mamma's dressing-case, so the very
pennies and sixpences themselves would be a novelty
after their long confinement. The boxes had been
weighed over and over again, in the hands, and it
was very evident to both Fred and Dora that they were
gradually becoming brimful; but of course it was quite
impossible to guess the value of the contents, as there
was no knowing the particular amount of each coin
or of the majority of them. The twins knew there
THE MONEY-BOXES. 15
was some gold in the boxes because papa had ad-
mitted that he had put half a sovereign into each
wooden pocket the day he bought them, and it was
generally supposed that two god-papas had slipped in
a like sum. Dora knew she possessed a beautiful
bright crown piece for she had often played with it,
and Fred well recollected an Indian piece of money
called a Rupee, worth about two shillings, which he
meant to keep as a curiosity.
It was settled that the two boxes were to be opened
in private immediately after breakfast, and that when
the children had arranged their property in piles or
heaps, papa, mamma, and Polly, with any friends who
might be on a visit, or asked in at the moment,
would come to make an inspection. Thus the twins
would have all the fun of opening the boxes to them-
selves, and they would be able to distribute the con-
tents over the table-cloth, in whatever way they might
think most imposing. This was a very good arrange-
ment, and Fred and Dora were very anxious for their
age-clock to strike ten, that they might begin the
delightful operation. It was now about one minute
to ten, that is to say only a week to the birthday, so
the time to wait was very short.
16 THE SNOW-SWEEPERS PARTY.
If you will take my advice," said Polly, you will
occupy this week in considering what will be the best
way of spending the pennies. You will have to
decide first whether you will give them in presents
to friends or for the benefit of some poor people: and
then upon what particular gifts or charity they shall
"Oh! no, dear Polly," said Fred, "you must
decide for us."
Yes, Polly, do," added Dora.
Polly was always the resort and refuge in any diffi-
culty, so it was nothing ne'v for her to do a little
thinking in behalf of her brother and sister. She was
a most good-natured girl, twice as old as Fred and
Dora, very clever and very affectionate: no trouble
was too great for her, no task was too hard: she was
always willing, always obliging, and as her juniors
invariably treated her very lovingly and considerately,
it gave her great pleasure to do all she could for them.
"Well, I'll think of something if possible," she
said, but you must think, too, as it is not unlikely
That I may fail."
Dora said she would think, but she had no fears of
Polly failing: she knew that her good dear sister
THE MONEY-BOXES. 17
always managed, somehow or other, to hit upon the
very nicest thing that possibly could be imagined.
How little did all the coins guess that they were
going very shortly to be liberated! many of them
were very old friends indeed, and a half sovereign in
each box, as we know, had been imprisoned in the
wooden pocket the whole of the ten years. The
bright crown piece and the rupee had been in con-
finement for six years, but they had been taken out
for an airing four or five times, and still preserved their
good and healthy colour. All the pennies knew each
other very well for they had been in the boxes a long
long time, and most of the fourpenny pieces and three-
penny bits were old acquaintances. Soon they were
going to be separated and possibly they would never
meet again. One shilling might travel in somebody's
pocket to America, another might sail to Australia,
while a third might find itself exchanged for twelve
penny buns in New Zealand Even if the coins re-
mained in England they might never happen to meet
again. Some might become royal coins by being
used at Buckingham Palace or Marlborough House:
others might hop into the Duke of Peasoupshire's
pocket; one or two might walk into Newgate Prison,
18 THE SNO W-SWEEPERS' PARTY.
three or four into the House of Commons, five or six
into Bedlam, and eight or nine into various collection
plates next Sunday.
What a general break-up this would be, to be sure,
and what a big volume we might fill if we narrated
the travels of all the coins on their escape from the
two money-boxes! Fred and Dora did not think
much about the great break-up and separation : they
looked forward to the fun which the unlocking of the
wooden pockets would lead to, and grew exceedingly
anxious for their age-clock to strike ten.
Every evening they asked Polly if she had dis-
covered a good way for the spending of the pennies,
and on three consecutive evenings she had to reply,
No : on the fourth, however, she was able to say, Yes,
but she declined to make known her discovery until
the birthday arrived. This announcement of course
excited the curiosity of Fred and Dora to a consider-
able extent, but neither of them bothered Polly at all
on the subject: they patiently waited for their birth-
day, and meanwhile occupied themselves with their
ordinary little duties and pleasures.
Gradually the minute-hand of the age-clock travelled
round, and now we may say the time was exactly one
THE MO.NEY-BOXES. 19
second to ten, in other words, this was the day before
the tenth anniversary of our little friends' birthday.
To-morrow morning, directly after breakfast, the
precious money-boxes would be taken from their cus-
tomary resting-places, and brought into the dining-
room; then they would be laid on the table and the
keys placed beside them. With heads very full of
this coming pleasure the twins went to bed, and in
the midst of a very pleasant dream entered noiselessly
upon their new year.
COUNTING THE COINS.
THEN Fred and Dora opened their eyes
r o, the morning of their tenth birth-day,
- and looked out of the window, they saw
the ground covered with snow and the flakes racing
down in torrents.
Oh! how cold it was, but Oh! how pleasant to
be seated at breakfast a little while afterwards in
the snug comfortable dining-room. There were not
many persons in the streets; every now and then a
busy man hurried by the window holding over his
head what looked very much like a mushroom but
what was in reality an umbrella coated with snow,
and occasionally a cab darted by looking a little bit
like a square piece of bride-cake on wheels. No
sooner, however, had the snow ceased falling than you
heard on all sides, Clean your doorstep, mum, clean
your doorstep," for just as fine weather in summer
brings out the flowers, so in winter it brings out the
CO HUNTING THE COINS. 2
snow-sweepers. Where the poor snow-sweepers spring
from you cannot tell; where they have been hiding
you cannot guess, but only let the last flake fall and
out they come in shoals. They are of all sorts and
sizes, of all ages and weights; they number amongst
them big, strong men, and small, weak boys, and they
all seem very cold, very hungry, and very thinly
clothed. The tools they bring with them are often
of the funniest description. Perhaps their spade is an
old worn-out fire-shovel, its handle bent, its blade thin
as a sheet of note-paper, and rusty as an old nail; yet
it manages to do all the snow-sweeper wants, so he is
not likely to invest his scanty savings in a brand-new
spade. The besom or brush he brings is frequently
almost all handle and no head, still, as it enables him
to push the shovelled-up snow into the road, he re-
mains faithful to it, and considers it would be a waste
of money to buy a new one. Of course the sweepers
do not always get through their work very quickly
because of the very imperfect nature of the tools they
use, and consequently it takes them some minutes to
earn the penny or twopence they ask; still no doubt
they manage to pick up a good many halfpence in a
morning, more particularly when they get into a street
22 THE SNOW-SWEEPERS' PARTY.
where they are not immediately followed by brother
There were quite half-a-dozen snow-sweepers this
morning in the street in which Mr. Howe lived, and
two came to the door just as Fred and Dora finished
their breakfast. The footman said they might clear
away the snow, so they got to work at once, one of
them, who was a man, scraping away with an old and
much battered spade, the other, a boy, brushing vigor-
ously with an almost toothless besom.
Fred and Dora watched them for a few moments,
said how much they should like to take them into the
kitchen for some hot tea and toast, and then turned
their attention to the grand event of the day, the open-
ing of the heavy money-boxes. The breakfast things
were very soon cleared away, and then one box was put
at the tcp and the other at the bottom of the table.
I have separated you in this way," said Mr Howe,
"in order that your money may not get mixed. Fred
will put all his coins together at the top, and Dora all
hers at the bottom of the table, and in about half an
hour's time we will come in and see the contents of
the wooden pockets."
So the twins were left together, and it would not be
COUNTING THE COINS. 23
very long, we may be sure, before they would apply
the keys to the boxes and spread out their personal
The boxes were heavy, very heavy indeed, and no
doubt there were a great many pennies in them; there
seemed also to be some wee coins, such as threepenny
bits, judging by the little rattling sounds to be heard
when the boxes were shaken: all conjecture, however,
was suddenly brought to a close, for after Dora had
given her box a good shaking out came the bottom,
and flop fell all the coins upon the table !
"Oh dear me, look what I have done !" she ex-
claimed as she endeavoured to prevent the liberated
coins from rolling off the table.
Never mind," said Fred, "the boxes were not
strongly made and all the shaking has loosened their
sides. No harm is done; a little glue will stick the
bottom in its proper place again. But you will tell
mamma of course ?"
Oh I yes," replied Dora, I shall tell her when she
comes in, and I am sure she won't be angry." Then
Dora collected all her coins together, and watched Fred
open his box. He applied the key in a quiet dignified
manner, and having raised the lid, turned the box over
24 THE SNOW-SWEEPERS' PARTY.
as if he were turning a pudding out of a mould, and
deposited his valuable heap on the table-cloth.
Oh look here, here is a half-sovereign, and here',
another, and here is a bright new shilling and some
"Yes, and I've a half-sovereign too, Fred; see I
have three, and a big five-shilling piece and six new
farthings. Arid look, somebody has dropped in a
peppermint lozenge with a face drawn on it!"
"Well, let us put the money in heaps, Dora,
at once, or we shall not have got all into order before
papa, mamma, and Polly come in. There, I mean
to put my gold on this spot, my half-crowns and
florins here, my shillings next, my sixpences close by,
then my fourpenny pieces and threepenny bits. Here
I shall put the pennies and by them the new farthings."
Fred then set to work. He tumbled down his money..
mould, and spread out all the coins on the cloth, look-
ing first for the gold. Having found all the most
valuable pieces, he sent his eyes and fingers hunting
for the crowns, but finding none, he then picked out
the half-crowns and florins; and so he went on till he
came to the pennies. As he supposed, there were
a great number of these last, some of them of the old
COUNTING THE COINS. 25
clumsy sort which we used to have before the Mint
gave us those nicely made smart bronze ones in 1862,
and some bright and fresh which could only have been
put into the box very recently. He also hit upon a
very old and very big twopenny piece in copper, a coin
we scarcely ever see now-a-days. A great big, clumsy
thing it was, indeed, date and device almost entirely
obliterated. Fred wondered who could have given
it to him, and I must say I wonder too, for these
twopenny copper pieces are rather rare, and I should
fancy all collectors would be unwilling to part from
them. We have no smart bronze pieces of the same
value, and I imagine the Mint intends to give us none.
The copper ones were first coined in 1797,and though
actually current, are very very seldom met with
now. About the same moment that he discovered
this queer, unwieldy prize, Dora hit upon a most
beautiful little silver coin, a penny piece.
Oh! do look at this, Fred," she said, "it is a
smart little silver penny. I never knew there were
such things at all. It has the figure I on one side
with a crown perched on the top and some Latin
words and figures. On one side of the crown are the
figures 17 and close by on the other side 86: what
26 THE SNOW-SWEEPERS' PARTY.
does that mean ?" "I suppose it means the penny
was madein I786, so it is nearly a hundred years old.
What is on the other side?"
Dora looked, and there she found the likeness of
King George the Third. This was a pretty little coin
well worth having, and indeed valuable, because no
silver pennies have been born at the Mint since
the reign of Queen Elizabeth, 1561.
Fred and Dora kept rummaging amongst their
goods for some time, picking out the few half-sove-
reigns dropped into their boxes and putting them to-
gether in little heaps at their respective ends of the
table. The bright new farthings looked very much like
half-sovereigns, and the rupees were wonderfully simi-
lar to florins on one side. The rupee is an Indian
coin worth two shillings, and the one Fred found
had the date 1840 upon it, with a picture of the Queen
on one side and on the other the words ONE RUPEE
in the centre, with EAST INDIA COMPANY around.
For about two centuries India was in the hands of a
number of British Merchants called the East India
Company; but now it belongs to the Queen, who is
called Empress of India.
Suddenly Dora lit upon a French piece of money,
COUNTING THE COINS. 27
and wondered very much what it could be. On one
side she saw a man's head, and on looking well at the
letters surrounding it, made out the word BONAPARTE,
and knew at once the likeness was that of the great Cor-
sican soldier who became Emperor of France. There
were other words on the same side of the coin, and
had Dora known French she would have read PREMIER
CONSUL, that is to say First Consul, a title which the
great Napoleon Bonaparte held before he was created
Emperor. Then on the other side were the words 2
FRANCS in the centre, with REPUBLIQUE FRANCHISE
around them, and AN 12 at the bottom. This meant
to say that the coin was worth two francs, or about one
shilling and eightpence of English money, and that it
was made at the French Mint in the twelfth year of
the Republic, that is in 1803. You will know all
about what is called the Republic some day, and also
how Napoleon's great French army was defeated by
the Duke of Wellington at the battle of Waterloo.
"0 Dora, look at this dear little silver coin ex-
claimed Fred presently, "whatever can it be ? It is
just a tiny bit bigger than the silver penny, and has
I in the middle of it."
This was a silver three-halfpenny piece, an exceed-
ingly pretty little coin made in the year 1835, dur-
28 THE SNOW-SWEEPERS' PARTY.
ing the reign of King William the Fourth. Fred
was very much pleased with it, especially as he had
never once heard of such a coin in all the ten years of
his life, and he was quite right in thinking it a rarity.
No three-halfpenny bits have been made since 1561,
and I believe we shall never have any new ones. Sil-
ver twopenny bits, or half groats, are likewise scarce,
but not so scarce as the three-halfpenny ones :.the last
time any were born at the Mint was in 16o1.
At length our friends the twins had taken stock of
all their valuables and had put them together in heaps.
They had separated gold from silver, and silver from
bronze, and they had likewise put the rupee, the two
franc piece, the copper twopenny piece, and the wee
curious silver coins in a place by themselves. Now
they would be able to add up and see what was the
value of the contents of the two wooden pockets.
Fred had Dora had
4 half-sovereigns. 3 half-sovereigns.
9 half-crowns. I crown.
23 shillings. 8 half-crowns.
38 sixpences. 21 shillings.
30 fourpenny bits. 40 sixpences.
41 threepenny bits. 21 fourpenny bits.
131 pennies. 52 threepenny bits.
40 halfpennies. 119 pennies.
6 farthings. 63 halfpennies
-' Total value. Total value.
COUNTING THE COINS. 29
That is what each money-box contained, and as I
have purposely left the place for the totals blank,
boys and girls may practise a little arithmetic. The
sum will not cost them much time, and when it is
done, then the totals can be filled in, either in ink or
pencil, in their proper places.
The most important total for us to find out is that of
the halfpence, because then we shall see how much
Fred and Dora will have for that particular purpose
which Polly had been pondering over. What Miss
Polly had fixed upon we do not yet know, but we can
be quite sure that the more halfpence the twins pos-
sessed the better for the charity or the presents. This
accordingly was the very first thing which Fred and
Dora set themselves to ascertain. They kept back the
farthings, but lumped all the rest of the pence together
and added up the heap. Fred had 131 pennies and
Dora 119, in all 250 : Fred had 40 halfpennies, Dora
63, in all 103. These last made 5 1 pennies and be-
ing added to the other 250 gave a total of 301i : what
nowis thevalue of 3or0 pence? Exactly 5s. i-d.
if I am not mistaken. Do not trust me, but work the
sum for yourself and see if you make a total like mine.
Supposing I am right, Fred and Dora will have a trifle
30 7HE SNOW-SWEEPERS' PARTY.
over twenty-five shillings for their presents or for the
Now let us call in papa, mamma, and Polly," said
Dora : whereupon out ran the brother and sister to the
drawing-room, and presently returned with their elders.
Mr and Mrs Howe and Polly, with two or three
friends who had been invited to see the contents of
the wooden pockets, examined the little heaps with
much interest, and said they thought the wee little
silver coins very pretty indeed.
"But, do you know who put them in, papa?"
No, I do not indeed; all is a great secret. I my-
self put in the farthings and half-a-sovereign in each
box, but I know nothing about the rest of the money.
I used to drop in a sixpence and a penny now and
then, but I have no idea what my contributions come
to. I have seen mamma's fingers very near the tops of
the boxes, and Polly's too, at different times, but I am
sure they could not tell you how much they have
dropped in. The chief thing for us to ascertain is the
amount of the pence : let me see what it all comes to."
So Mr Howe investigated the bronze heaps and pre-
stntly said, "Twenty-five shillings and three-halfpen-
nies: well, if I add fourpence halfpenny there will be
COUNTING THE COINS. 31
a complete total of 25s. 6d.: that therefore is the
amount which you are to give away."
The next question was to decide in what particular
way this pleasant sum was to be disposed of. Fred
and Dora had come to no decision : they had thought
the matter over, but had not hit upon anything with
which they felt satisfied. Polly had been thinking,
they knew, and they felt quite sure her plan would
turn out to be a capital one. They determined, how-
ever, to see if papa had been considering the subject.
So Fred put the question to him.
No, my boy, I have done next to nothing in the
matter myself. Polly told me her plan, and consulted
me as to whether I thought it could be carried out :
when I said I considered it practicable, she asked my
permission for the proposed affair to take place, and I
at once gave leave. That is all I have done."
Well, then, Polly dear, will you tell us what your
plan is? asked Fred.
Yes, dear, I will, directly we have quite done look-
ing at the coins."
ARRANGING THE MONEY-BOX DINNER.
OT much more time was spent upon the
heaps of gold, silver, copper and bronze,
and when parents and friends had left the
dining-room, Polly seated herself in a big arm-chair
and disclosed her plan. The twins were all attention,
their ears pricked like a pugnacious wiry-haired
"To begin at the beginning," said Polly, I must
tell you that when I came to consider the best way of
disposing of the pence, I resolved to think first about
the charity and then about the presents. If I co-ld
not discover any pleasant and charitable way of spend-
ing your pennies, then I determined to think what
would be the nicest gifts for the most favoured
amongst your friends. Taking the charity first, let
me ask you if you know who the Snow-sweepers are ?'
ARRANGING MONEY-BOX DINANlER. 33
"Oh! yes, those old men and boys who come with
queer shovels and besoms to clear the door-step and
"Well, what should you say to giving them a good
All of them, Polly? asked Fred.
Oh! no, dear, of course not; a dozen or so."
"That would be very nice, indeed, I think," said
Dora, and they would enjoy a good hot dinner very
much, as they always look so cold and so hungry.
Look at those two on the opposite side of the street,
Clearing away the snow from Mrs Snoozington's door:
poor things, I am sure they could eat twelve dinners,
Snot one only. Yes, dear Polly, do let us have a
"What say you, Fred? asked Polly.
"Oh! just the same as Dora : I don't think we could
Spend our pennies in a better way."
"Very good, and as papa is quite willing for the
party to take place, we will certainly have it. Papa
Proposes that the dinner shall be laid in the coach-
house at the back: it is a good big place, as you
Sknbw, with a very large fire-grate in it. It was white-
washed only three weeks ago, papa says, and so looks
34 THE SNOW-SWEEPERS' PARTY.
very clean and smart: we would add to its looks, how-
ever, by decorating the walls with holly, and by
hanging up one or two illuminated texts, suitable for
Christmas. No doubt some of the Snow-sweepers
can read, so they will be able to make out the meaning
of my smart painted letters, and perhaps get a tiny bit
of good out of them. As papa says, it is not always
easy to be good on an empty stomach, so we will satis-
fy the Snow-sweepers' appetites, and then try if we can
say something to interest them, and show them that
Christmas is not only a feast of eating but of goodness
too. We must not, however, for a moment suppose
that Snow-sweepers are bad men: oh dear no. It
is very wicked, indeed, to think people are bad just
because we do not happen to see them in church. So
you both think," continued Polly, that you would
like to spend your pennies in the way I have pro-
Certainly, Polly," was the one reply.
"Very good: so now we must turn our attention to
the necessary preparations for this somewhat novel
The twins were delighted with Polly's proposal, and
said they knew she would fix upon something in every
ARRANGING MONEY-BOX DINNER. 35
way very nice. Thej felt they would be doing good
with their pennies, by giving a warm dinner to some
cold men and boys, and they reflected, too, that the
party was likely to be very interesting and amusing.
They knew papa would not allow it to be a dismal
affair in any way, or a dinner at which there would be
very little to eat and a great deal to hear: no, he
would be sure to make it a merry meeting, because
he always said that doing good or being good made
people very cheerful.
In the course of the afternoon of their birthday
Fred and Dora went round to the coach-house to
inspect the Snow-sweepers' dining-room. With the
carriages and various odds and ends in it, it did-not,
perhaps, look a very promising place for a Christmas
party: still it was easy to see that when cleaned out
and smartened up, it would have a very different ap-
pearance from its present one. It was capable of
"considerable decoration: all sorts of festoons could
very easily be nailed against the wall or suspended
from side to side, and two or three of Polly's handsome
illuminated texts could be made to give it a delight-
fully cheerful appearance. It looked beautifully clean,
because, as we have just read, it had been white-
36 THE SNOW-SWEEPERS' PARTY.
washed only about three weeks ago, and certainly
that great big fire-place in it would be capable of
warming dozens of Snow-sweepers through and through.
The difficulty was to know where to put the carriages
while the coach-house was being got ready for dinner
and whilst the dinner was going on. However, Mr
Howe felt pretty sure he could arrange for the safe
keeping of his goods either at a friend's place or at a
livery stable-keeper's; so he did not let this difficulty
trouble him a bit. In fact he was a gentleman who
hardly recognized the word difficult" at all : if any-
thing was to be done, he settled that as it must be
done, a way must be found for doing it. He never
for a moment attempted impossibilities : he stuck to
what was possible, and took every precaution against
being beaten. I hope this is the practice of all who
are reading this story: if it is, I think I can guess
who will stand a good chance of a prize at Midsummer,
and who will be the pupils most highly praised by
governesses and teachers.
Were Mr Howe's coach-house ten times more rough
and common-looking than it really was, I am sure he
would feel no misgivings as to its smartness on the
evening of the Snow-sweepers' party: he would see no
ARRANGING MONEY-BOX DINNER. 37
difficulty in fitting it for human beings, after its long
occupation by carriages. He knew he had a very
sharp assistant in Polly, and that she would put the
servants in the right way of doing dozens of little
things: so he just took one look at the place, and
told Mrs Howe it would do splendidly for the dinner.
Fred and Dora did not come to this conclusion
-quite so quickly: they had all sorts of wonders as to
how tables would be fitted up, how the walls could be
made to look bright and cheerful, how the carpeting
of the brick floor would be managed, how the place
would be lighted, &c., &c. : but they guessed these
matters some how or other would be satisfactorily
arranged, and so looked forward with the greatest
possible pleasure to the festal evening.
How many snow-sweepers were to be invited ? That
was one of the first questions to be answered. Mr
Howe told his butler to ask a man who kept some
dining-rooms in a street not far off, for how much
he would give a dozen or more men and boys a
good plain Christmas dinner. The man reflected,
and after a while sent word to say he would charge
eighteenpence apiece, for which sum he would give the
guests as much hot roast beef as they could eat, with
38 THE SNOW-SWEEPERS' PARTY.
an unlimited supply of plum pudding, bread, cheese
and vegetables. They should have a pint of beer
each, or smoking hot coffee if they preferred it.
Mr Howe said this charge was very fair, and told
the man he might get a dinner ready on Christmas
evening for ten men and five boys.
"This will consume 1, 2s., 6d. of your money,"
he added to Fred and Dora, and with the rest you
shall get some whisky for your guests, so that they may
go home at night warm within and without. Depend
upon it they will enjoy themselves, and you too will
enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that your pennies
are making some poor fellows very jolly and com-
These conversations which I have just related took
place a fortnight before Christmas : there was plenty
of time, therefore, to think over the coming party, to
invite the Snow-sweepers, and to get ready the coach-
house. Mr Howe did not propose inviting the guests
a long while beforehand, because he was afraid the
fifteen chosen might publish the invitations here, there,
and everywhere amongst their fellows, and that his
house might consequently be besieged on the evening
of Christmas Day: so he resolved to go to work very
ARRANGING MONEY Y-BOX DINNER. 39
quietly, and to manage the whole affair in a private,
unostentatious way. He would have no difficulty in
securing fifteen mouths for the good dinner: there are
lots of Snow-sweepers in London, as we are very well
aware, but perhaps it would be a little difficult to get
at them at a time when there was no snow falling.
The majority, if not all of them, do not live upon snow,
so to say: many sell matches or fusees," as they are
called, for lighting pipes and cigars: some carry
baskets of groundsell on their backs; some sweep
crossings ; some are ordinary beggars; some go about
in search of odd jobs of any and every sort imaginable;
some run after loaded cabs in the hope of getting six-
pence for helping the driver to carry the luggage into
the house; some suddenly rush up when you have
called a cab, open the door, touch their caps and hope
for a penny: and many, I am afraid, do very little else
than nothing at all, wandering about during the day
and reposing in a workhouse during the night.
Before selecting the guests for the money-box din-
ner, Mr Howe sent for a wise policeman, who knew
the district well, and ascertained from him the names
of sundry needy men and sweepers : he also called
upon the Rector of the parish, and the reverend gentle-
40 THE SNOW-SWEEPERS' PARTY.
man told him of several poor men and boys, adding
that though he knew they were quite out of practice,
he would be bound they would show themselves just
as clever at eating a good dinner as Mr Howe himself!
In consequence of this statement, and of one or two
others made by some friends, Mr Howe determined
to increase the number of guests at the Snow-sweepers'
party: he resolved to double the number, in fact, and
to pay the additional cost himself. Fred and Dora
should feed the original fifteen with their pennies out
of their wooden pockets, and Mr Howe would feed
another fifteen with pennies out of his calico pocket.
So there would be no fewer than thirty at dinner,
and a good big party they would make.
The man at the dining-rooms was, of course, de-
lighted to hear that he was to have so many to provide
for, and he resolved to roast his beef to perfection,
and to put an unusual number of currants and raisins
into his pudding. His pudding would be of immense
size, as we may suppose ; he would have two in fact,
like spotted cannon-balls, and he meant to decorate
them with sprigs of holly and to send them into the
coach-house in a blaze of flaming brandy. This
would astonish the snow-sweepers he felt sure, and add
ARRANGING MONEY-BOX DINNER. 41
to the excitement of the dinner. He also contem-
plated putting a very fine china bowl upon the table
filled with something very hot and very good, in
imitation of the "Wassail-bowl," of which I daresay
you have heard. The wassail-bowl was a very big
silver cup which the Saxons used to have on their
tables at dinner, and out of which they used to drink
to guests, saying "Woes-heal to them, which means
"a very good health to you, sir." These Saxon
gentlemen must have been very jovial, hearty fellows,
I am sure, and certainly they were very wide-awake.
You know what they did when they came to England,
don't you ? Well, they came to help the poor South
Britons to fight against their enemies the Scots and
Picts, and, having defeated the foe, they actually set to
work to defeat their friends, and after a long war
managed to establish seven kingdoms in South Britain
and to take possession of land they had been asked
to defend This was certainly a very funny way of
doing the Britons a service, was it not ? These victo-
rious gentlemen came from Germany, and were named
Saxons because they fought with a seaxe or short
sword; they landed more than 1400 years ago, and
42 THE SNO W-S WEEPERS PARTY.
had for their commanders those two famous brothers
Hengist and Horsa.*
I do not suppose that the man at the dining-rooms
knew all this about the Saxons, but he had heard of
their wassail-bowls, and possessed an imitation one
himself. He told Mr Howe he thought of putting
the great china bowl on the table at the Christmas
dinner, but Mr Howe was rather afraid that hot punch
or hot spiced wine might make the snow-sweepers
tipsy. Hot punch is sometimes very presumptuous,
and instead of going quietly down the red lane into
our stomachs, it has the impertinence to rush up to
the most dignified and elevated part of our bodies,
namely, our heads, and then we are apt to become
what is called tipsy. Mr Howe would be dreadfully
shocked and offended, if any of his guests were to
get giddy or quarrelsome at the pleasant money-box
dinner: so he told the man it might perhaps be better
to let the china bowl stay at home. "You may send
in the plum-pudding all on fire if you like, but be
It has been affirmed that "Jack, commonly called the
Giant-Killer, and Thomas Thumb, landed in England from the
same hulls and war ships which conveyed Hengist and Horsa,
and Ebba the Saxon."
ARRANGING MONEY-BOX DINNER. 43
sure not to make it too rich. I don't want to make
the snow-sweepers ill: I don't want to give them
furry tongues and headaches, and blackness under
the eyes, and to oblige them to scamper off next
morning to my friend Dr Pillbox. I want to treat
them kindly, not cruelly."
Having thus settled certain matters connected with
the dinner, Mr Howe had next to see about the
selection of the guests. In this task he was helped
very greatly by the Rector, and by the sagacious
policeman whom he had consulted. He set to work
in good earnest, and very shortly we shall hear who
were to form the company on the eventful evening
and night, and right funny fellows we shall find some
of them to be.
THE SNOW-SWEEPERS TOILETS.
HE guests were all chosen, the coach-house
was cleared and all matters connected with
the party were settled, when Christmas Eve
made its appearance, ushered in by a very heavy fall
of snow. Very busy had Polly been with her illumin-
ated slips of cardboard, and her brother and sister
likewise had been fully occupied in making wreaths
and festoons. The coach-house had been well dosed
with buckets upon buckets of water, and was looking
the pink and pattern of cleanness, and when holly,
mistletoe, and evergreens were up there could be no
doubt about its smartness and elegance.
After luncheon, Polly had her texts and the other
decorations carried into the coach-house and super-
intended the nailing of them up. The change this
ornamentation made was wonderful; it almost trans-
THE SNO W-S WEEPERS' TOILETS. 45
mogrified the place into a haunt fit for the fairies,
and the huge blazing fire finished off the beauty with
comfort. Over the big doors leading into the mews
was nailed Polly's largest text, below it hung a fine
festoon in the shape of a crescent, and above were
two very pretty green wreaths. A cross of red holly-
berries was fixed to the two side walls, and wreaths
and festoons were disposed tastefully about. There
were four Christmas pictures, too, painted in bright
colours which Polly had bought for the special adorn-
ment of the coach-house: these she had nailed up on
each side of the two crosses, and right well did they
help to set off the other decorations. The coach-
house now looked a very pleasant place indeed for a
good dinner, but as it was too early in the day to light
the lamps, it was impossible to guess exactly what its
appearance would be to-morrow evening.
The next thing to be put up was the tables; these
were of plain deal and were to be arranged round the
two walls of the room and along the big doors
opening into the mews. By this arrangement the
snow-sweepers would have substantial backs to lean
against, and there would be plenty of room for their
46 THE SNOW-SWEEPERS' PARTY.
plates, as only one side of the long tables would be
In the evening Mr Howe had the lamps lit, and
then the appearance of the sweepers' banqueting-hall
was very fine indeed; he was much pleased with the
effect, and congratulated dear Polly and the twins
on the skilful way in which they had managed
Little did the thirty snow-sweepers guess what pre-
parations had been made for their reception; they
had no idea where they were going to dine: they
simply knew they were to have a dinner on Christmas
Day, and that it was to be paid for by a young lady
and gentleman out of some pennies dropped into a
money-box. But they took good care to make some
preparations themselves for the dinner, their leading
preparation being a good wash. Two or three of
them went about to borrow a comb, a fourth besought
his neighbours for a bit of looking-glass, a fifth begged
a big bucket and armed himself with twopenny-worth
of yellow soap. Christmas Eve was very cold, but
most of the sweepers, who had homes of any sort at
all, came away rather early from their crossings and
other occupations to strip themselves for a good wash.
TIHE SNOW -SWEEPERS' TOILETS. 47
Scrub, scrub, scrub was the order of the evening with
a good many of the invited guests, while others went
about to borrow what they called in fun their dress
clothes." One of them who had sold a good many
fusee-boxes during the day and had earned a small
fortune by hailing a cab, paid fourpence for the hire
of his "dress suit." This consisted of an old livery
great-coat reaching down to his heels, so long in fact
that he said he should hardly want any dress trowsers.
The coat was of drab colour with four brass and three
white buttons on it; its left sleeve seemed nearly new
while the right was a good deal the worse for wear,
and there was a patch in the back which did not go
very well with the rest of the material. The trousers
had originally belonged to a sailor, and were so wide
at the feet that the man said he should hardly want
a pair of dress boots. However, he hired a pair, and
paid an extra penny to have them polished. This
sweeper considered himself a great swell, and in fun
he said he felt quite fit to dine at Windsor Castle.
Another man made himself almost equally smart.
He began by offering a friend a penny for the use of
his white hat, but when he was told that gentlemen
don't dine with their hafs on, he kept his penny and
48 THE SNOW-SWEEPERS' PARTY.
tried to hire some more necessary article of attire.
He offered it for the loan of a boot; he had picked
up one a while ago, a very good Wellington boot
which had lost nothing but the heel, and if he could
hire a fellow he would be very smart about the feet
for the party. However he could get nothing nearer
the mark than a hobnailed shoe which a friend had
picked out of a dust-heap. He had to make this do
and he felt quite satisfied, because he knew his feet
would be under the table all dinner-time. He now
turned his attention to a coat, and came to the con-
clusion that his own poor ragged thing would not do
at all. He accordingly applied to a cabman and
borrowed from him a green shooting-coat. Unluckily
the cabman was thin and rather small, while the
snow-sweeper was a biggish man and tolerably fat; it
was rather hard work, therefore, for the latter to get
into the green shooting-coat, but he did get in at last.
He would have to sit up very straight, as the slightest
bend forward would probably burst the buttons over
the chest, and he said he must borrow a pair of
gauntlets or house-maid's gloves, as the sleeves only
reached two or three inches below his elbows His
"dress" trowsers were very smart indeed; they were
THE SNOW-S WEEPERS' TOILETS. 49
of green plaid, a pair he had worn when a soldier in
a Highland Regiment and as he had only brought
them out on very grand occasions, they were in
capital condition. His boots were very heavy and
thick, but as he said there was not likely to be any
dancing, he felt they would make sufficiently good
The smartest snow-sweeper of all would look very
imposing indeed. His "dress" coat was scarlet, an
old hunting coat in fact, his waistcoat was of green
velvet, one which his wife had made out of an old
gown somebody had given her, and his trowsers were
red and white check, the very ones, in fact, which he
wore when he went about the streets as an out-door
Negro Minstrel. Would he not look smart? would
not his dress suit" be considerably grander than
that of Uncle Obadiah, or Sir Benjamin Warmingpan ?
All the Sweepers did not live together, nor were all
acquainted, but the dozen or so who were friends
helped each other in various ways. The man who
had bought the twopenny-worth of yellow soap was
in great request; he was applied to by several for the
loan of his precious possession, and was looked upon
as quite a superior person for having such a remark-
50 TIlE SNOW-SWEEPERS' PARTY.
able piece of property. His nugget grew less and
less as snow-sweeper after snow-sweeper borrowed it,
and when it was returned to him at the end of an
hour or so, there was hardly enough left to wash a
doll with. Then another man with a broken comb
was treated with great respect and passed amongst
his fellows as one who was advancing civilization,
while a boy who.possessed a bit of looking-glass was
considered to be decidedly a rising youth.
One snow-sweeper said he believed the quality"
always dined in white gloves; another declared his
experience justified him in saying that they always
wore black ones, while the guest in the scarlet hunt-
ing-coat gave it as his opinion'that they wore no
gloves at all. The civilized man with the comb was
appealed to, and settled the matter by stating that
ladies and gentlemen never wore more than one glove
at a time, and that the colour of it depended upon the
furniture in the room!
"And they wears white ties, don't they, Jem?"
"Them as can afford 'em, and the others wears
black. I means to borrow a white hankercher and
tie it in a bow round my neck."
But you haven't got no collar, Jem."
THE SNOW-SWEEPERS TOILETS. 51
"How do you know as collars mayn't 'a gone out
o' fashion ?"
In this way the snow-sweepers spent the close of
Christmas Eve, and though the snow was falling fast,
they continued to make themselves tolerably jolly.
They shivered every now and then, especially when
they began the scrubbing of face and neck, and when
they came to take off the dress clothes they had
been trying on, but the anticipations of to-morrow
were so delightful that they bore up bravely against
the cold, and maintained their joviality determinedly.
Like the men, the ten boys who had been invited
busied themselves this evening with preparations for
the money-box dinner, and not only gave themselves
a good wash but endeavoured also to smarten them-
selves up in the way of dress. The two or three who
had mothers were the best off in this respect, for the
good women sewed and sewed and mended and
mended most diligently, resolved if possible to make
their lads the tidiest amongst the money-box guests.
The boys accommodated each other in various ways,
and eventually when they tried on their "dress clothes,"
it was discovered that hardly a single boy had on any-
thing belonging to himself One lent a shirt for a
52 THE1 SNO W-SWEEPERS' PARTY.
pair of boots and took somebody else's shirt in ex-
change for a necktie: a second swapped jackets and
lent a waistcoat for a pair of trousers, and so on. None
of the boys would look so imposing as the men, in
fact nobody but an admiral or general in full dress
could look as imposing as the man who was to dine
in the scarlet hunting-coat, the green waistcoat and
the checked trousers, but the boys generally would be
pretty neat. They had no fun over gloves or ties :
they went very soberly to work, and were far too much
excited to think about jokes. They spent far more
time than the men in wondering what this dinner
would be like, and all agreed that it would most pro-
bably take place in the gentleman's kitchen: they right-
ly guessed there would be lots of roast beef and plum-
pudding, but none of them dreamed there would be
smoking hot coffee to drink. Poor boys, they were
brimful of excitement: pleasure was not much in their
line, nor were good dinners, so we must not be sur-
prised to hear that, tired though they were, it was a
very long time before any of them fell asleep this
bitterly cold Christmas Eve.
Of course the man at the dining-rooms was not
idle to-day. He had got from the butcher two enor-
THE SNOW-SWEEPERS' TOILETS. 53
mous pieces of beef, and from the green-grocer a
quantity of magnificent potatoes: a lot of loaves
would come in early in the morning, and half a biT
cheese was due this evening. His wife had been veil
busy indeed with the spotted cannon-balls, and she
had taken good care not to make them too rich for
fear of sending the poor guests with furry tongues to
Dr. Pillbox. Mr Howe had said he should like the
snow-sweepers to have a little tobacco and a long pipe
after dinner. So the man laid in a stock, and got
some chocolate imitation cigars for the boys who, of
course, would not be allowed to smoke real tobacco.
So we see that all connected with the coming dinner
were very busy to-day, and although both men and
boys were quite out of practice, as the Rector said,
still I have every reason to believe they will show
themselves exceedingly clever at eating roast beef and
So goodnight, snow-sweepers, and while you are
asleep, may some fairy take your appetites to a grind-
stone and make them as sharp as a razor!
THE GUESTS ARRIVE.
HRISTMAS Day was beautifully fine. Not
a flake fell after midnight, the cold wind
disappeared early in the morning and the
sun came out in his Sunday best. Of course the thaw
made the streets very sloppy and dirty, but thick boots
and galoshes laughed at the prostrate snow, while dry-
ness above and around made the day very pleasant
and enjoyable. The snow-sweepers were hard at
work, and soon cleared door-steps and pavement, and
the men, women, and boys at the crossings were very
busy likewise with brushes and besoms.
As they walked to church in the morning, Fred and
Dora wondered if the man and boy scraping and
brushing at their door were coming to dinner in the
evening. Papa could not tell them, for he really did
not know at all who the thirty guests were to be: he
THE GUESTS ARRIVE. 55
had left the invitations to the Rector and the saga-
cious policeman, as they knew which were the deserv-
ing and respectable men and boys.
"At what time are the sweepers to come here,
papa?" asked Fred, "dinner is at six o'clock is it
Yes, but the guests have been told to come at five.
We are going to have a little short service in church
first, just a few Prayers and Hymns and a plain simple
interesting address by the Rector. Mr White believes
he may be able to give the sweepers something to
think about if he talks to them in church for ten
minutes or so, and he hopes they will enjoy joining
in the Hymns and Prayers. The regular Evening
Service is at seven, as you know, but Mr White means
to have a special one for the sweepers a little after
five, when he will be able to talk expressly to them.
They will like to be alone,' we think, because poor
people unfortunately fancy their clothes are not good
enough for the Services attended by smart ladies and
Nothing had been said to the guests about this
little service: Mr Howe and the Rector, however,
had no doubt but that they would all attend it, and
56 THE SNOW-S WEEPERS' PARTY.
both hoped it might be the means of inducing them
to attend church pretty regularly afterwards.
The coach-house had been put into perfect order
on Christmas Eve, as we are aware, so there was
nothing to be done to it to-day in the way of decora-
tion and arrangement. Polly, Fred, and Dora took
a last look round during the afternoon, and were very
much pleased with the appearance of the tables with
the nice clean cloths, plates, knives, forks, &c. The
fire was burning brightly and all the lamps were ready
to illuminate the room: large pieces of bread were
piled on a sort of side-table and a number of pewter
cups, all bright as silver, were arrayed in line like a
regiment of soldiers. It was evident the man at the
dining-rooms was going to do everything very nicely,
and Fred and Dora were exceedingly glad to notice
this, because of course they wished their guests to be
treated properly in every way. It would be wrong
and very unkind to serve up the dinner for these poor
men and boys in a dirty, slovenly, careless manner.
No doubt the sweepers would appreciate the niceness
of tablecloths white as the snow they swept away, and
pewter cups bright as the threepenny bits which they
THE GUESTS ARRIVE. 57
After taking their look round and giving the fire a
good poke, Polly and the twins went into the house
and awaited the arrival of five o'clock, at which hour
they meant to station themselves at a back window
whence they would have a capital view of the stable-
yard and coach-house.
Of course all the sweepers were much excited, and
were anxiously looking forward to the striking of
five o'clock. Early in the morning they got their
" dress suits in readiness, and gave them a final in-
spection and brush. Then they set out with their
shovels and besoms, and might be heard in all direc-
tions, crying out, Clean yer doorstep, mum."
Some went to their crossings after they had made a
little money out of the snow, and added to their stock,
especially those amongst them whose crossings lay in
the route of people going to church, and when service
began, they either went home or to the little coffee-
houses which they were in the habit of patronising.
About half-past twelve o'clock they returned to the
crossings, in order that they might catch congregations
going home to dinner or lunch, and directly afternoon
service had begun, namely at 3 or 3.30 p.m., they
hurried to their houses, and for the last time took cut
58 THE SNO V-SWEEPERS PARTIV
the dress suits. First they gave themselves a farewell
scrub, and then came the exciting moment for dress-
ing. Some were very staid and sedate over the opera-
tion, but others were full of fun and joviality. These
latter laughed heartily at each other's suits, and the
man with the Wellington boot on the one foot and
the hobnailed shoe on the other caused a deal of
merriment by the funny appearance of his feet. In
due time all were dressed, and so quick had they been
in their movements that they were ready a whole hour
before the time of meeting. All the guests did not
live near each other, as I have stated before, nor were
all acquainted, but so incumbent did they feel it on
them to be punctual that it was just possible they
would all come up to Mr Howe's house in a body.
Well, they did not actually come up in a body, but
the latest arrival was not very much afterthe first.
The moment the clock struck five, three men and a
boy presented themselves at a little door in the mews,
and in another minute Mr Howe and the Rector were
welcoming them at the entrance to the coach-house.
These four were all very tidily dressed, their clothes
were neat, their boots had been polished, and their
faces and hands were clean. Presently in came two
THE GUESTS ARRIVE. 59
men who were very poorly dressed, indeed, and, in
strange contrast with them, the man in the scarlet
hunting-coat made his appearance a moment after.
You should have seen Fred's and Dora's faces when
this imposing guest entered the stable-yard. They
looked at Polly, then at each other, then at the Rector
and Papa, down below, and finally they burst out
laughing. He was almost the funniest figure they had
ever seen in their lives: he had a very good-natured
happy face, too, and probably was fully aware that
he was rather a comical object. His brother guests
grinned and grinned, and the Rector and Mr Howe
were highly amused.
"I think we must put a coat over that very smart
gentleman," said papa, "when we take him to church.
I have an old Inverness cape which will temporarily
extinguish him, and keep him from being such a
very conspicuous and laughable object."
The man himself -was as sober and sedate as a
judge : he knew he was creating a little excitement,
but except that his eyes twinkled a little bit, you could
hardly have told that he was a funny fellow at all.
Well, my friend in red," said the Rector, "have
you brought a fox in your pocket? All laughed at
60 THE SNOW-SWEEPERS PARTY.
this question very much, and the Rector continued,
"or are you going to show us your skill as an archer,
for I see you are wearing Robin Hood's green uniform
underneath your coat ? Before we separate to-night
you must tell me who your tailor is, for I think I
should very much like a pair of checked trousers like
yours !" This caused additional merriment, and no-
body laughed so heartily as the man in red. He felt
more important than ever by being so much noticed,
and answered several questions which the Rector put
to him as to how he got his amusing dress suit."
Presently in dropped the man with the Wellington
boot and the hobnailed shoe, and he was immediately
followed by the fat guest in the tight green shooting-
Dear me, dear me, my fat friend, you must not
eat much," said Mr Howe, or that very tight coat
will run away from its stitches and buttons Are your
ribs loose or is your whole body in danger of tumbling
to pieces that you find it necessary to bind yourself
so tightly ? Really, I think you had better undo the
buttons, or we shall have them flying off and hitting
somebody in the face !"
The man laughed very much, and the joke caused
7HE GUESTS ARRIVE. 61
a deal of fun all round. He did undo the buttons and
at once felt greatly relieved, for the thin cabman's coat
seemed tighter than ever when the fat man laughed.
All this while men and boys were dropping in, and
at a quarter past five o'clock Mr Howe counted noses,
and found that everybody had arrived. He then
called the funny fellow in the scarlet coat, and sent
for the old Inverness cape.
Here, put this on, my man," he said, "for we are
going to church for a quarter of an hour or so, and it
won't do to cut this queer figure there." So the man
slipped on the big cape, and hid everything but the
ends of his Christy Minstrel-like trousers.
Then the Rector addressed the snow-sweepers, and
asked them if they would come to his little church
"Christmas Day is a great holiday as you all
know," he said, but it is also a very sacred festival,
and this is the reason why we all make a point of
going to church upon it. We commemorate to-day a
Birthday, and so we are happy and cheerful, but, at
the same time, we commemorate no ordinary birth-
day, but that of our Lord, who was GOD as well
as Man. He it was, you know, who was eventually
62 THE SNOW-SWEEPERS PARTY.
to die for our sakes upon the Cross, so we keep His
Birthday with great solemnity and with sacred cheer-
fulness. Let us therefore come to church for a little
while, because that is the place of all others in which
we can best commemorate what is solemn, and there
too we can reach the highest and purest pitch of cheer-
fulness by singing beautiful hymns and by joining in
beautiful prayers. So, follow me, my friends, as many
of you as like, and help me to keep Christmas-day
in a worthy and becoming manner. We are called
Christians after Christ, you know, so let us come and
do the very thing which He who gave us our name
will most assuredly approve of."
The Rector then led the way, and, I am glad to say,
every one of the snow-sweepers followed him, Mr
Howe walking with the last.
The little church they were making for was very
near: it was not the one used in a general way,
because there was also a very fine new church in the
parish, but it did capitally for children's services, and
for such a one as the snow-sweepers were now going
to attend. After the men had taken their seats, the
organist at once began to play some beautiful Christmas
music, so cheerful and so magnificent that the little
\ THE GUESTS ARRIVE. 63
congregation felt the Rector was quite right when he
talked about the highest pitch of Christian cheerful-
ness being reached in church. Presently the choir
and the good clergyman came in, and after they had
said their prayers just as we say ours when we first go
into our seats, the Rector gave out a hymn. This was
" Hark / the Herald Angels sing," a hymn we all know
so well, and I think the snow-sweepers recollected it
perfectly the moment the organist began to play it.
Mr Howe found the place for several of them, but
several found it for themselves, and then all stood up
and joined in very heartily. I am sure they liked sing-
ing this beautiful hymn very much: some shouted a
little, and seemed quite at home with the grand
When this was finished, the Rector said, Let us
pray," and all knelt at once, none of the sweepers sit-
ting or lolling irreverently. The Rector then began
with the Collect for Christmas-day, reading it very
distinctly, and in a way which the little congregation
could easily follow, and he offered up three or four
other prayers after it, as well as the Lord's Prayer.
Then he stood up and gave out another hymn, one
we all know very well indeed, O come all ye
64 THE SNO W-SWEEPERS' PARTY.
faithful," and this the snow-sweepers sang with great
energy, especially the boys, who were very familiar
with the tune.
Then the clergyman read the Epistle and Gospel
for the day, and at the conclusion of the latter,
all sang a beautiful hymn, which we know quite as
well as its two predecessors, While shephzerds watched
their flocks by night." Dear me, how the snow-sweepers
did sing this hymn, to be sure: they knew the tune
thoroughly, it seemed, and sang out boldly, for they
were now feeling at home in the church. After the
hymn, the Rector read the second lesson for the Morn-
ing Service, namely, a portion of the second chapter of
St. Luke's Gospel. He did not read it straight through,
but stopped at every verse and made most interesting
and simple explanations. He gave a sort of a little
sermon in this way, explained fully the birth of
Christ, and told all about the angels singing, and
the poor shepherds seeing the star and following it.
All this was most interesting; the snow-sweepers
were exceedingly attentive; they listened to every
word which the Rector said, and seemed very sorry
indeed when he had finished.
The choir now sang a Christmas anthem out of the
THE GUESTS ARRIVE. 65
beautiful oratorio of the .I.:.:'', which, I daresay,
you may have heard, and then the little service was
This was indeed a nice way of spending a part of
Christmas Day, a very proper way, as everybody felt,
because the birth-day of our Saviour is a very sacred
one, and so the church is the place -of all others in
which we best can keep it.
The Snow-sweepers, accompanied by Mr Howe and
the good Rector, now walked back to the coach-house,
and directly the servants saw them coming, they got
ready the smoking-hot roast beef and all the other
good things for the famous money-box dinner.
N a very short space of time there was a
fine smoking hot piece of beef at one
end of the table, and very soon after,
another piece equally big and good. Then came two
piles of steaming roast potatoes with other vegetables,
and then the Rector asked the snow-sweepers to stand
up. They obeyed at once, and grace having been
said, they took their seats and got ready to begin this
capital dinner. At first they felt a little strange and
shy, but presently tongues began to wag, and gradually
all Mr Howe's guests were chatting merrily. The
first snow-sweeper who was served with some of the
roast beef, seemed ignorant of what he had to do with
the good things on his plate. He looked at the
plate, then at his neighbours, then at his knife and
fork; then he looked round the room and grinned.
This was a funny way of beginning his dinner, but
AT DINNER. 67
the fact was the man was a bit shy; he did not like
to begin to eat alone; he wanted to wait till some
brother guests had been served, for he fancied every-
body would look at him if he munched his beef by
"Oh this man evidently doesn't like roast beef,"
said Mr Howe presently, you had better take away
his plate, waiter !" Thereupon the man grinned again,
but at once took hold of knife and fork, and cut off a
mouthful. He would not commence operations, how-
ever, until two of his fellows had been served; then
he began in earnest, and he was the first ready for a
second helping. I think our friend in the scarlet
hunting-coat would not have been so long in begin-
ning; directly he got his plate, he set to work in right
good earnest, and burned his poor mouth dreadfully
with a piece of very hot potato. There was no water
at hand to cool his tongue, so he sat with his mouth
open for a few seconds.
"Waiter, go and fetch a dentist; that man wants a
tooth out apparently said Mr Howe, making every-
body laugh. The victim enjoyed the joke, and very
soon forgot the little pain, for he recommended
68 THE SNOW-SWEEPERS' PARTY
operations, taking good care, however, to air the rest
of the offending potato before eating it.
The waiters and their master were very quick indeed
upon their legs, handing the plates with great rapidity
and running about to fetch mustard, bread, vegetables,
&c., directly they saw the snow-sweepers in want of
them. They poured out the beer, too, into the bright
pewter mugs with great skill, holding the big jugs
high in the air and producing a mountain of waving
froth. Some of the boys had hot coffee, and this they
seemed to enjoy immensely.
I need not tell you that all the snow-sweepers had
capital appetites, for I think you will have guessed
that already. Some of their appetites had been grow-
ing a long time, for two or three of the men had been
very unsuccessful lately, and had been unable to buy
enough food to satisfy their hunger. These men's
appetites had consequently grown to a very great size,
and you must not be surprised to hear that they all
had four helpings of roast beef. The meat was
exceedingly tender, otherwise the poor fellows would
have had dreadful indigestion, because no stomach
can feel comfortable if it suddenly has to accommo-
date a lot of food after a long spell of emptiness.
-: _-- ._ _:_.
v -- -t.r 7.1 .' '
The Sweepe. s who saw him struggling with the huge round pudding could
not help laughing.-TE SNOW- SWEEPERS' PARTY, p. 69,
not help laughing.--THE SNO'vVSwEERPRS' PARTY, P, 69,
AT DINNER. 69
That is the reason why, when.we are very hungry,
we are told to eat slowly and not to eat very much at
one sitting. Of course Mr Howe did not like to
say this to his guests, for fear they might think him
illiberal, but he took care to give rather small helpings
and to pick out the very tenderest parts of the meat
In due time the roast beef and potatoes were done
with, and then in came the plum-puddings after a
little judicious pause. What a weight they were to
be sure The first waiter, who was rather a little
man, quite tottered as he came into the coach-house,
and the sweepers who saw him struggling with the
huge round pudding could not help laughing. Down
he set the spotted cannon-ball upon the table before
the Rector, and then he let his aching arms drop by
his side to rest them.
The snowsweepers stared at the big pudding in
great astonishment, for it sat upon the dish in a blaze.
of fire. The cook had poured some brandy over and
around the great savoury globe, and then set the
spirit on fire by applying a lighted candle-paper to it;
great was the blaze and most tempting the whole
affair. It was far too hot to be eaten at once, but
70 THE SNOW-SWEEPERS' PARTY.
the sweeper who was helped first never thought of
this, and the consequence was he shared the fate of
the man in red, and burned his mouth. He cried out
for a handful of snow, and when no waiter brought
him any, he darted out into the stable-yard, snatched
up a spoonful and clapped it into his poor mouth!
Well, of course, it melted in a moment, and then he
discovered that it had made his teeth ache So he
had to sit idle for a while until his tongue and palate
had become cool; then he went to work again, and
had three very satisfactory helpings.
The sweepers enjoyed this pudding immensely,
especially the young ones; the flaming spirit had
given a very fiery flavour to it, and the sauce made it
slip down the red lane like little boys down a slide.
Every single atom on the dishes was eaten, and when
the last guest sent up his plate for a third helping, he
received it back with one currant on it as everything
else, the waiter said, was gone !
Mr Howe fully expected that none of Fred's and
Dora's guests would have an inch of room for cheese.
He was mistaken, however, for not one of the sweep-
ers said, No, thank you, when some was offered to
them. Where they could put it, Mr Howe did not
AT DINNER. 71
attempt to guess; he calculated that four times of
beef, twice of potatoes and vegetables, and three times
of pudding, was enough to fill an ordinarily capacious
stomach, but it was evident his present company had
room for even more. So he gave them some cheese,
and told the waiters again to crown the bright pewter
tankards with more foam. When the last mouthful
of cheese was gobbled up, this capital dinner came to
an end; there was no more eating to be done, but a
great deal of digesting to be got through, and Mr
Howe thought his friends could not begin too soon.
When the Rector had said grace, the waiters rapidly
cleared the table, and then Mr Howe told the sweepers
to do what they liked for the next half-hour, strongly
advising them to sit down for a part of the time,
unless they wanted some dessert in the shape of
"In half-an-hour's time you will be ready for a pipe
and a little grog, and then I will see if I can read you
an interesting or amusing story, or perhaps some of
you will be able to tell me one." Saying which Mr
Howe left the coach-house with the Rector, and the
snow-sweepers then congregated round the fire, or
went into the stable-yard for a little fresh air.
72 THE SNOW-SWEEPERS' PARTY
They all agreed that they had enjoyed the dinner
immensely; the roast beef, roast potatoes and plum-
pudding were capital, they said, and as for the con-
tents of those foaming tankards, nothing could drive
away thirst so quickly nor wash down good meat so
pleasantly. The sweepers grew very merry and very
chatty indeed: they laughed so loudly that Fred and
Dora could plainly hear them in one of the back
rooms, and the servants in a neighboring house
looked out of their windows to see whose were the
voices, and whose the laughter that astonished their
ears so much.
Half-a-dozen of the sweepers, who were somewhat
more sedate than their fellows, began to wonder very
much what would happen on the return of the Rector
and Mr Howe to the coach-house. Mr Howe had
talked about reading a story, and he had said that
perhaps one of the sweepers might be able to tell one.
The sedate half-dozen thought this would be an ex-
ceedingly pleasant way of spending the rest of the
evening, but they doubted very much if one of their
own lot would be able to tell anything worth hearing.
And yet some must have had curious adventures, and
some must have seen strange sights, if not at home at
AT DINNER. 73
all events abroad; well, perhaps the man in red would
have a good tale to tell, or possibly the fat fellow in
the thin cabman's tight coat. The sedate half-dozen
would wait in great anxiety to see if one of their
brother guests was capable of entertaining the com-
pany, or if the reading or telling of the story would
fall to the lot of the good host.
At the close of the half-hour, the sweepers saw the
back-door open, and one having communicated this
fact to the rest, the whole company left the fire and
returned to their places. Just as all were seated, Mr
Howe and the Rector made their appearance, accom-
panied by Fred and Dora.
I have brought my little boy and girl to see you, my
friends," said Mr Howe, "because they are your hosts,
and are anxious therefore to know if you have all en-
joyed your dinner. They are the owners of the money-
boxes which contained the pennies that procured this
pleasant dinner, and if they find that you have all had
your appetites comfortably satisfied, they will probably
tell their friends that a capital way of spending some
of their money is by giving a snow-sweepers' party."
The guests looked at each other as Mr Howe
concluded his remarks, and then up got our funny
74 ,TE SNOW-SWEEPERS' PART'
friend in red. He said he was sure he might speak
for his friends as well as for himself, and tell Master
and Miss Howe how very much obliged all were for
the jolly dinner they had just finished. His appetite,
he said, was as big as an elephant's when he came
into the coach-house, apd now he believed it was no
bigger than a penny doll's. He expected this was
the case with the appetites -of all his brother guests.
Then, when he arrived, he was almost as cold as a
lump of ice: now he was as warm as a kitten in a
"And I should like to tell you, young lady and
gentleman," he continued, "what a different Christ-
mas Day this has been from last, and all through the
pennies in your money-boxes. Last Christmas Day,
me and none o' my mates that are here went no nearer
a Church than the crossings we sweep: we like a
crossing near a church because then we catch the
people on Sundays, but the road as leads them to
church don't lead us there too. Well, this year we've
been to church, and have learned too what Christmas
Day really is, and how folks ought to spend it. The
Rector tells us as it is a holy day as much as a holiday,
and has shown us that the way to keep a holy day
-4 AT DINNER. 75
holily is by spending apart of it in church; Well, to
church we go, and the Rector gives us beautiful prayers
and beautiful hymns. Then he reads something out
of the Bible to explain what Christmas Day means,
and to tell us who was born then years and years ago,
and then he talks about our duties to-day and tells us
we all have a very good chance indeed of going to
Heaven, just because of Him whose birthday we've
been trying to keep. A pretty way to keep such a
birthday by pleasuring from morning to night and by
behaving just as if it was a sort of Derby-day Well,
,young lady and gentleman, I'm sorry to say that me
and three of my mates was drunk this time last year,
after having had as much fun as we could all the time
we was sober: it is very different with us to-day, and
all through the pennies in your money-boxes. We've
been brought into the society of those above us; they
have talked to us about One who is above them again,
and they have taught us something as we never could
have taught ourselves. That's what does us good: it
makes us feel a bit proud of ourselves : we like to see
as others think we are worth a bit o' notice and
church and beautiful hymns and talking to. We have
got something new to think of, something better than
76 THE SNOW-SWEEPERS' PARTY.
our crossings and carrying luggage off cabs, and we've
had a good dinner and a clergyman and a gentleman
to dine with us. We know what C (!T n l -, Day
means now, and how as it cannot be kept properly
outside a church and in a blaze of fun all day long:
we know all this, and if we don't profit by knowing it,
it will be our own faults. Well, I'm sure we are all very
much obliged indeed to the young lady and gentleman,
to the clergyman and the other gentleman. I don't
think many of us here will be drunk next Christmas
Day: I think we shall all look out for the Rector,
and we hope he will live for a great many years to do
good to others as he has done good to us."
Then the man in red sat down, and the snow-
sweepers applauded him very much, meaning thereby
to show that all agreed with what he had been saying.
The Rector presently got up and said a few very kind
words to all his friends, so kind and affectionate that
I don't think the sweepers will wait till next Christ-
mas to come to his little church.
Fred and Dora left the coach-house now, and had
a long talk with Mrs Howe about the pleasure of
doing good to others. In due time they went to bed,
and Polly, who accompanied them, suggested that,
AT DINNER. 77
when they said their prayers, they should thank God
for putting into their hearts to do some good to a few
of their poorer neighbours.
After this, they went to bed very happy indeed, and
felt that, from first to last, this was the happiest Christ-
mas Day they had ever spent.
THE TALE OF OLD TUBBINS.
OW, my friends," said Mr Howe, when
Fred and Dora had bidden the snow-
sweepers good night, "we will light our
pipes and make ourselves merry, in a quiet and re-
spectable way."# On hearing these words, one of the
waiters darted into the kitchen, and back he came
holding in his arms about two dozen long, white clay
pipes; he was soon followed by another waiter who
brought in two large bowls containing tobacco. A
pipe was given to each of the grown-up sweepers and
the bowl passed to him, and when all had begun to
puff, the head-waiter brought in a third bowl, a very
large old china one with volumes and volumes of
steam issuing from it. Oh! how warm and tempting it
looked, and how the eyes of the sweepers glistened as a
waiter deposited it before Mr Howe Next came in a
THE TALE OF OLD TUBBINS. 79
huge silver ladle, which was placed in the hot whiskey
punch, and then a number of tumblers. The big
ch na basin stood in the stead of the wassail-bowl, of
which I made mention early in this story, and Mr
Howe having half filled his own tumbler, stood up
and said, "Woes-heal, my friends, a health to you !"
Thank you, sir, thank you," answered the sweepers.
Then Mr Howe filled all the tumblers of the sweepers,
omitting, however, to fill the tumbler of the Rector.
Then, when every man had received his steaming
glass, Mr Howe arose again, and turning to the good
clergyman said to him, Wes-heal, good Rector,
health to you, and to clergymen all!" And up got
the sweepers too, and raising their glasses exclaimed,
"Health, reverend sir, your health; God bless you
and yours, and all your brethren !" The heartiness
of the men much pleased the Rector, and he thanked
them very warmly.
The whiskey punch which the man of the dining-
rooms had brewed was exceedingly good, and the
sweepers enjoyed it greatly. For the boys present a
bowl of hot elder-berry wine had been brewed, and
you should have seen how the lads grinned when they
got their first tumbler, and swallowed their first
80 THE SNOW-S WEEPERS' PARTY.
mouthful. They did enjoy it indeed; it was a little
sweet and spicy, and a beverage altogether new to
these young rascals' palates.
Now, I wonder if there is any one here to-night,
able and willing to tell us a story?" observed Mr
Howe, after his friends had enjoyed a few puffs and
a few mouthfuls of grog.
The sweepers looked at each other up and down
the table; they grinned and puffed, and puffed and
grinned, and the majority naturally fixed their eyes
upon the man in the scarlet hunting-coat. He had
no story, evidently, for he shook his head and took a
very long pull at his tumbler. Mr Howe and the
Rector consulted together, and presently the latter
took out of his pocket several sheets of paper, and
laid them before him. Seeing this, the sweepers
whispered together, It's a sermon, it's a sermon;
clergyman is going to preach."
"No, I am not about to preach a sermon," said the
Rector overhearing the remark, but I am going to
read you a little story, as none here present seem able
to tell me one. It is very simple, perhaps you will
think too simple, but it is the best I have, and as I
daresay some of you have read stories of rather a
THE TALE OF OLD TUBBINS. 81
strong flavour, why possibly you will like a simple one
for a change. It is a tale of the country, and on that
account all the more likely to interest you, I think,
because it is your lot to live so much in town. Like
you, I have to be a great deal in London, attending
to my duty, but whenever I can venture to take a
holiday I hurry off into the country, and, Oh dear
me, I cannot possibly tell you how much I enjoy
The sweepers were all attention; the stories they
were accustomed to, were certainly not of a very
simple nature always, so one of this sort would be a
change, as the Rector had said. They were all used
to bricks and mortar, so anything that treated of
daisies and buttercups would be a novelty also. The
Rector had designedly written a simple story; he
wanted to see if it would have a good influence upon
these poor rough men, and he hoped that what was
pretty sure to be attractive to the boys present, would
likewise interest their elders.
So he arranged his sheets of paper or manuscript,
and having taken a good sip of elderberry wine, com-
menced his story of"
82 THE SNOW-SWEEPERS PARTY
Far away in the country, he began, lies the pretty
little town of Nestleton with its grand old Norman
church, its queer, narrow, little streets, its big market-
place, big town-hall, and very tiny river, the Ness.
Two miles from the town, at a point where the river
becomes'very narrow indeed, is the village of Wynbury,
made imposing by the fine lodges and gates leading
to Wynbury Hall where Admiral and Mrs Gwynne
live. The village itself is perhaps the quietest,
simplest, and prettiest in all England, and I think its
inhabitants are happier and more contented than any
villagers I ever knew. Their cottages are clean and
tidy, their gardens well kept and fruitful, and I think
their hens are deserving of a word of commendation,
because they lay such lots of eggs, and have such very
fine chickens. Their ducklings, too, are the most
dutiful in the whole country, because they are so well
behaved to the hens that bring them up. Ducklings
as a rule, you know, care very little for the hens that
have sat upon their shells so carefully and patiently :
directly they are able to go into the water, they leave
their poor mother to take care of herself: they turn
THE TALE OF OLD TUBBINS. 83
up their bills at her, and look as if they called her a
land-lubber, and as if they despised her because of
her inability to swim. Now, it is no part of a hen's
duty to sit upon another bird's eggs : she is made to
look after her own children; but we know that farmers
often ask her to sit upon the little oval sons and
daughters of a duck. Being educated upon land
herself, and being very happy there, the hen naturally
wishes to bring up her adopted children to the same
element, but lo! she sees them take to the water and
swim off where she cannot reach and guard them.
This fusses her very much, but the ducklings don't
seem to care a bit: they prefer the water themselves,
and leave their mother to amuse herself the best way
she can upon dry ground. The hen of course thinks
that the ducklings will be punished for their naughti-
ness : she thinks they will get their feet wet and catch
cold, and that then they will come to her to nurse
them; but they catch no colds at all, and never look
as if they wanted a little tallow on their bills. Now,
the Wynbury ducklings differ from others in this
respect-they never leave their mother alone upon
land. If there are eight of them, two always stay
with the hen while the other six are swimming, so she
84 THE SNOW-SIWEEPERS' PARTY.
always has company and never frets after the absent
The Wynbury cats, too, are particularly consi-
derate. They know that it is their duty to rid their
masters' cottages and barns of mice, but they always,
when possible, avoid killing a mouse that has any
relations. They know he will be missed and mourned
for, so they simply hurry him away by frightening him,
and only kill solitary, unknown, uncared-for mice that
nobody at all has any interest in. Possibly the cats
in the neighboring village catch and slay the mice
that have been frightened away, but that is no con-
cern of the Wynbury pussies.
Considering, therefore, how very well-behaved the
animals were, you will not be surprised to hear that
their masters and mistresses were model men and
women. All the village folk were a hard-working,
thrifty, honest, industrious lot: they lived respectably
and quietly, made money and saved it, banked it
regularly and spent it judiciously. They dearly loved
their kind squire and his wife, Admiral and Mrs
Gwynne, they looked up to and greatly respected the
clergyman and his wife, Mr and Mrs Turner, and
they would do anything for the doctor Mr Simpson.
THE TALE OP OLD TUBBINS. 85
All therefore were very happy; all tried to do their
duty, and those who were most in earnest succeeded
Now, sometime before my story opens, their peace-
ful, respectable model village was suddenly thrown
into very great excitement, by an unexpected and
most deplorable event. A gentleman who had been
staying at the little Inn, the Duck and Green Peas,"
one day discovered that his purse and watch had been
stolen. He had left them in his dressing-case, and
gone into Nestleton on business, and when he came
back he missed them both. He instantly rang the
bell and told the servant to send up John Gleadow
Gleadow came up horrified at the news. He wrote
down a description of the gentleman's watch and also
of the purse, and rode at once into Nestleton to give
information to the police.
One of the sovereigns in my purse had a hole in
it, John," said the gentleman, "and another had the
letter H cut or scratched on one side."
"Very good, sir; that will be a great help to the
police, I've no doubt. Now, I think, sir, if you don't
mind, you had better walk down the village and see
86 THE SNOW-SWEEPERS' PARTY.
the constable, Jack Keddell : he's a very sharp fellow,
and will be able to give a good deal of assistance.
Take my word for it, however, sir, this robbery hasn't
been done by anybody in the village: we are honest
folk here, and the rascal comes from London or
Liverpool, or one of those big places."
Captain Winston, the gentleman, accordingly went
in search of Keddell, and having found him, told the
history of his loss.
"Well, it can be nobody in Wynbury, sir," said the
policeman, nobody steals nothing here, I assure you;
folk here are as honest as the brook is clear."
"I am glad to hear it, Keddell, but I am afraid a
thief from a distance will be hard to catch. However,
keep your eyes open, for the vagabond may be a
great deal nearer you than you fancy." The con-
stable repeated his conviction that no Wynburyite
could have committed this offence, and then went to
the "Duck and Green Peas," to learn all particulars
as to the persons who had been visiting there. In
the evening, Captain Winston dined at the Hall, and
told Admiral Gwynne about the loss of watch and
purse. The gallant officer, who was a magistrate, was
shocked at the news; he had never heard of a pin
THE TALE OF OLD TUBBINS. 87
even being stolen in Wynbury, and he could not
believe that any of his tenants could have been guilty
of such wickedness.
All the village the next morning was in a great
state of excitement. Detective policemen were walk-
ing about; the serjeant had come from Nestleton and
was holding a long discussion with Constable Keddell,
and an inspector was shortly expected to start some
fresh examination. Meanwhile, all the villagers went
to work in their usual way; labourers went to farms,
some to dig, some to cut the hedges, some to harrow,
some to plough, and all to do something; and when
evening came, all returned home and made eager
inquiries as to whether the thief had been caught.
Do all they would, the inspector and his subordi-
nates could not light upon the thief, and for a little
while the circumstance was almost forgotten in Wyn-
bury. One thing, however, they did not forget, which
was this, that one of the missing sovereigns had a hole
in it, and that a second had the letter H scratched or
cut upon one side. This was something to remember,
and' none kept it fresher in their memories than John
Keddell, and the police at Nestleton. What was so
mysterious about this robbery was the fact that Captain
88 THE SNOW-SWEEPERS' PARTY.
Winston had left his dressing-case locked, and found
it locked on his return. It had not been broken open
apparently; it had had no rough usage at all; the
things inside had not been pulled about; it had
just been unlocked and relocked after purse and
watch had been taken out. This was very puzzling
Now there was lodging at the Duck and Green
Peas at this time an old man of sixty, John Tubbins
by name, who had lived in Wynbury all his life; he
owned a bit of land, but did not live at the farm upon
it, because he preferred the liveliness and bustle of
the Inn. He let his house, and with the rent he got
from it, was able to do very comfortably indeed with-
out work. He was a very careful and saving old
man, a little avaricious, people said; he never spent
much money, and always put into the bank every
farthing he could collect. Everybody liked him in
the village, and most of his brother-parishioners would
consult him on sundry little matters which troubled
them. His advice was considered very good: he was
sharp and intelligent: he understood the weather and
the wind : he knew a good from a bad horse : he was
a capital hand at choosing a cow, and he could almost
THE TALE OF OLD TUBBINS. 89
tell you how old a dog was by the way in which he
wagged his tail.
Of course John Gleadow, the landlord of the
"Duck," told this old man all about the dreadful
robbery and asked his advice. Old Tubbins looked
very wise indeed, asked a good many questions and
made a variety of suggestions. He was decidedly of
opinion that the theft must have been committed by
a rascal from a distance, and he strongly advised
Keddell to put himself in communication with the
police in London, in Birmingham, Liverpool, Man-
chester and Leeds. He altogether ridiculed the idea
that anybody in Wynbury had been wicked enough to
commit such a crime and begged Captain Winston to
believe that all the villagers were as honest as honesty
itself. Old Tubbins said he feared the chance of
recovering money and watch was very small, because
Captain Winston could not recollect the number or
name of maker which you always see inside a watch.
John Gleadow had forgotten to mention the marks
on the two sovereigns, so old Tubbins concluded
that the gold was like all gold and not in any way to
I'll do all I can, Captain," said the old man: "a
90 THE SNOW-SWTEEPER9S' PARTY.
nephew of mine is a detective-officer and I'll make
him work hard to recover the stolen property."
Captain Winston thanked John Tubbins very much,
and everybody in the village said it was exceedingly
likely that the wise and sharp old man would sooner
or later find out the thief. A little while after this
Captain Winston had to leave Wynbury for Edin-
burgh, but on the morning of his departure he found
that, in consequence of the robbery, he had not
quite enough money to pay his fare. He asked the
landlord to be kind enough to lend him a five pound
note for a fortnight.
"All my spare money is in the bank at Nestleton
or I would let you have what you want with pleasure,
sir," said Gleadow. Old Mr Tubbins will oblige
you I daresay in a minute."
"That I will with pleasure," put in the old man
who had overheard the above conversation: "I'll go
upstairs at once and get you what you want." So
up he went and presently down he came with five
Captain Winston thanked him very much, slipped
them into his pocket, and drove off to the station.
THE TALE OF OLD T/UBBINS. 91
Here the Rector paused, took a sip at his tumbler,
and rested his voice for a minute. The Snow-sweepers,
who were getting very much interested indeed, put
some more tobacco in their pipes and took a very big
sip at the whiskey punch. Then, while the Rector
rested his voice, they talked over what had already
happened in the story and made guesses as to who
the thief would turn out to be. Some of them took
off their coats as they were getting rather warm, hav-
ing first asked Mr Howe's permission, and nobody
was more glad to be rid of his than the fat sweeper
who was wearing the thin cabman's shooting jacket.
The man in red did not take off his scarlet coat: he
ielt more important and dignified with it on and more-
over thought it was a great ornament to the room.
THE VICAR'S DISCOVERY.
BOUT a fortnight after Captain Winston's
departure from Wynbury, a clergyman
came from a neighboring parish to
preach in Mr Turner's church for the Sunday Schools.
A collection took place once a year for this excellent
charity, and all the parishioners made a point of giving
as liberally as they could. The Vicar usually found
a ten-pound note in the plate, which he believed had
been given by the Admiral, and another of five pounds
which he thought Mrs Gwynne had put in, because
these were the only two, he was aware, who could
afford such large sums. He guessed also who gave
the half-sovereigns, and was always pleased to find so
liberal a response made to the appeal for help.
On this Sunday the neighboring clergyman
preached a short excellent sermon : he pressed upon
all the great duty of contributing to the education of
THE VICAR'S DISCOVERY. 93
poor children: he showed that as those boys made,
for instance, the best carpenters who began to learn
their trade when young, so those persons made the
best Christians, who had begun to learn and to
practise Christian duties in their early years. Just as
you cannot become a good workman all at once, so
you cannot be a good Christian in a moment. You
must grow gradually into goodness of Christianity,
just as by degrees you grow into perfectness of any
kind, and as you are baptized when a baby, it is a
sign that God intends you to begin Christian life at
the earliest moment possible.
All this the clergyman explained very clearly and
persuasively, and the good people of Wynbury re-
sponded very liberally to his appeal in behalf of the
schools. Well, after the service was over, Mr Turner
the Vicar, his Curate, and the gentleman who had
preached, went into the vestry and presently began to
see how much had been collected. Mr Turner
counted the silver, the curate the pennies, and the
preacher the gold. The shillings, florins, half-crowns,
and smaller silver came to so much, the pennies and
half-pennies to so much, and then Mr Turner asked
what was the amount of the gold.
94 THE SNO W-SWEEPERS' PARTY:
I have five half-sovereigns, and one sovereign,"
was the reply. Mr Turner then added up the whole,
dropped the money into separate little leather bags,
put down the sum total in a book in the vestry, and
then carried all the money with him to the Vicarage.
Arrived home, he took a box in which he kept parish
money, out of his strong iron safe, for the purpose of
putting into it what had been collected; he placed
the pennies in one compartment, the silver in another,
and was about to put the gold into a third, when
something appeared to catch his eye. He instantly
put the gold down upon the table, and intently looked
at it. What had he seen ? What was it that absorbed
his attention so much ? Mrs Turner looked at him and
wondered much why it was that he did not put the
gold into its proper place in the box.
"What's the matter, dear?" asked the good lady
"Look at that sovereign, and tell me if you notice
anything peculiar about it," replied the Vicar.
Mrs Turner took it up, glanced over both sides,
and returned it, saying she could see nothing notice-
able about it at all.
Look again," said the Vicar.
THE VICAR'S DISCOVERY. 95
She looked again, this time more closely, and
at once dropped it on the table and threw up her
hands in astonishment. She had evidently seen what
the Vicar had noticed.
There is the letter H scratched upon one side,"
"Yes, and do you know what that proves ?"
"Yes," she replied, I do, indeed : that is one of
the sovereigns stolen from Captain Winston. Oh dear,
dear, can the thief be in the village ? Can it be possible
that anybody in this parish has been guilty of this
shocking crime ? "
The Vicar was very much distressed, indeed: he
looked at the sovereign again and again, and of course,
there could be no mistake as to the presence of the
letter H on one side.
How shocking !" he exclaimed, "how painful is
the duty I shall have to perform. I will take no steps
to discover the thief before to-morrow morning, in
order that I may not disturb my parishioners to-day,
and distract their attention during the Evening
We can guess, however, how much the Vicar's own
attention was distracted, through the remainder of that
96 THE SNOW-SWEEPERS' PARTY.
unhappy Sunday: we can guess how grievously his
discovery weighed upon.his mind, and how shocked he
was that this stolen money had been passed in church.
Luckily it was not his turn to preach this evening, or
I doubt if he would have been able to discharge his
duty: the curate preached, and though the Vicar
tried to follow him, he was unable to keep up his
attention at all. Contrary to his common practice, he
did not stop after the service, to speak to, and shake
hands with any of his parishioners who might be
waiting by the church : he joined Mrs Turner in the
chancel, and hurried straight to the Vicarage. On
the way he met old Tubbins, who said he hoped the
collection in the morning had been a good one, but
the Vicar did no more than tell him the amount
collected, begging to be excused further conversation,
as he had business of importance on hand. Mrs
Turner, however, stayed behind and had a little talk
with the old man, who remarked that Mr Turner
seemed a little put out about something.
Yes, he has been rather distressed since morning,
No bad news respecting his sick brother, I hope,
Mrs Turner ? "