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The Baldwin Library
,,'- "I-w,8, '. ".
THE COMMON. PAGE
/ARCUS /VARD LCO., LONDON.
S AND ROYAL LSTER WORKS. BELFAST.
MARY SENIOR CLARK
AUTHOR OF "LOST LEGENDS OF T*lE: NURSERY 1RY1MI: "
MARCUS WARD & CO., 67, CIIANDOS STREET
NEW YORK: THOMAS NELSON & SONS
II.-My LAI)Y 22
III.-I GO TU CHURCH, AND TO THIE BI; IOUSE 36
IV.-My SCHOOL DAY 0
V.-MY MATER 7. .
VII.-OLD NANCE 93
VIII.-MASTER GEORGE -. .
IX.-PLOT AND COUNTERPLOT 16
X.-"JOY COMET IN THIE MORNING" 131
XII.-Mv MASTER'S STORY 156
XIII.-MY MASTER'S SISTER 166
XIV.-MY MASTER'S PUPILS 175
XV.-OuRn I1lL .
ON ITHE COMMON (p. 11) Frontisplice.
MY LADY'S LESSONS .32
I RUN AWAY FROM SCHOOL 58
MY LADY LEAVES ME DESOLATE 112
TRYING MY 11AND A' FARM-WORK I60
-1- .-. -. -
-'-' ^ ,1 ^ 1 ^- I,1 j
S far back as I can remember, my father
and I lived in a cottage in the parish of
Llangovan, near the market town of
Rhydcwm, in South Wales. Our house was not
inaptly named Turnaside, for it stood alone in
"a wet, springy lane, where a passer-by was quite
"a sight to stare at. The house and I were in
charge of an old woman named Nance, for my
mother died when I was quite little. I have but
a faint recollection of her, as my father did not
keep her memory alive by ever alluding to her
in my presence, but people say that he was very
fond of her. When first they came, as strangers to
Llangovan, I was a baby in arms, and my mother-
so I have heard-a pretty, delicate-looking young
woman. Report said that she had been bred in a
8 Turnaside Cottage.
higher station of life than my father, and that they
had fled from England to this out-of-the-way place
to avoid her relations. But I cannot tell how much
of this is true, for, as I have said, my father never
spoke to me of her, nor, indeed, of anything con-
nected with his past life.
My childhood was not a happy one. As I look
back upon it, it looks grey and lonely and cheerless.
I would not live it over again for a great deal. My
father was not fond of me; I was a shy, plain,
weakly, and fretful child; and he, a strong, handsome
man, was vexed, perhaps, that his only son should
be so unlike himself. I was not a favourite either
with old Nance, or Tinder-and-Flint, as she had
been nicknamed on account of her fiery temper,
always ready to flare up at a touch. Nance was
not fond of children, or, as she expressed it, she did
not think much of 'em; and I, constantly ailing,
and, I am afraid, as constantly fretful, was looked
"upon by her as a remarkably disagreeable specimen
of the race. I was afraid both of my father and of
Nance. I can remember crying, all by myself, in a
corner of the cart-shed when I had tumbled down
and hurt myself, or when I felt sick and weary, with
a desolate sense of something wanting, though I
did not know that it was the sunshine of love that
I missed. The only person I knew, besides my
father and Nance, was Nance's grand-daughter,
Sally-the-shop-so called because her husband held
the post of grocer, draper, and general dealer in
the village. What could have induced so important
a personage to marry Nance's grand-daughter I can-
not tell. She may have been active and business-
like, but I thought her very disagreeable, with her
loud voice and noisy talk, and often wished she
would not come bouncing in so frequently, when
my father was away, for a cup of tea and a gossip.
I ought to mention, besides these, Tommy Cad-
wallader; but he was an acquaintance against my
will, for he was a boy, and I think I feared boys
more than any other creatures. Now and then a
troop of boys, or boys and girls, passed down our
lane on their way to the wood,intent on bird-nesting,
or to gather nuts or bilberries. I always fled at
the sound of their voices-into the house, if I dared,
or else into the cart-shed, where I lay listening until
they had gone by. If I had but joined them once,
I should have learnt that boys are not so terrible
after all ; but the more they called to me, the more
determined was I not to come, and they soon left
off taking any notice of so sickly and unsociable a
child. Tommy Cadwallader was the only boy who
persisted in trying to make my acquaintance. I
believe that it was pure benevolence on his part,
ro Turnaside Coattae.
because he thought I looked neglected and lonely;
but though I learned not to run away when his
"good-natured face appeared above the garden hedge,
I never could be persuaded to trust myself outside
our gate with him, and always felt relieved when he
left me to my accustomed solitude.
I kept out of Nance's way as much as I could,
playing in the garden in fine weather, and in the
cart-shed when it was wet. Only winter's cold
could drive me in to her company and that of the
fire. My father I never saw much of, for he was
generally out all day, and sometimes until late at
night. He owned a horse and cart, very respectable
ones, with his name, "John Bramble, Turnaside,"
painted in full on the cart ; and he employed him-
self in driving coal and culm from the neighboring
coal-pits to Rhydcwm and other places round. He
also acted as carrier or general carter whenever his
services were required ; and he was seldom in want
of a job. We were not badly off, for we had always
enough to eat; and we kept two pigs, so that the
kitchen roof was seldom without a bit of bacon in
reserve for any sudden need. To this live-stock,
when I was about six years old, was added a cow.
This was a great event in my life. Hitherto I
had been forbidden to go beyond our own garden;
and, as long as I did not dirty myself more than
was reasonable, I was left to amuse myself all day
in any way that I could. To be sure, I did make
my escape whenever I found a chance, but I never
strayed far. There was a large space of unenclosed
ground, not ten minutes' walk from our cottage,
which I passed on the rare occasions of my being
taken to the village. This piece of common so took
my childish fancy, that the first time that it occurred
to me to run out without leave, I can well remem-
ber running, fluttered and panting, up the lane,
until at last I stood alone on the wide, open space,
and looked around me with a sense of freedom so
intense that it almost amounted to pain; and I crept
under an overhanging furze-bush which stood near,
that from the shelter of its branches I might look
out more calmly at that new, illimitable world.
From that day, whenever I escaped, I made at full
speed for my friendly furze-bush, and, sitting down
under it, gazed out at the view, and played with
the ferns and grasses, and felt supremely happy.
The worst of it was that my snatches of freedom
never lasted long, for as soon as old Nance missed
me, she knew where to go in search of me. But I
never could find it in my heart to go elsewhere ;
that bush was my chosen friend, and I thought it
would be sorry if I went away to another.
All this was changed, however, on the arrival of
12 Turnaside Cottage.
the cow. My father announced that she was to be
my charge ; I was to follow her out to the common
every day, to guard her as she grazed, and to bring
her home in the evening. For Reuben is getting
too old now," said my father, to idle away his
days as he has done up to this time." I felt very
proud when I heard this, and pleased, too, at the
prospect of unbounded liberty opened out to me.
It was, nevertheless, with a very trembling satis-
faction that I followed my father next morning to
the common, with the black cow shambling along
in front of us, and listened to his directions as to
where she might graze, and when I must drive her
home to be milked. My father cut me a stick
before he left me, and gave me a friendly nod at
parting; but when he was fairly gone, all my new-
born manliness departed too. The sense of my
desolate position was almost too much for me, and
I felt a great sob rising in my throat. Suppose the
big cow chose to go home again, or to walk off to
Rhydcwm, or Pembroke perhaps-for who could
tell what she might take it into her head to do ?-
how was I to prevent her ? Did she kick ? Did
she bite ? I had heard of cows tossing people-
killing them, even. Terror took possession of my
mind, as I hid myself behind a protecting thorn-bush
and watched the movements of my charge. Hap
pily she showed no desire to wander, but passed
quietly from one tuft of grass to another, paying no
heed to me-not even when, my fears abating, I
ventured from my shelter and followed her a few
steps onwards. This was cheering; and presently,
when I glanced downwards at the little cotton
handkerchief in which I carried my dinner of oat-
cake and cheese, my courage rose high again. It
was so like a man to eat one's dinner out of doors.
I had seen the man who broke stones on the road
doing so, and had thought how much I should like
to do it too. Was it dinner-time yet ? Hardly.
So I waited a bit ; but I am sure that I must have
eaten my dinner long before noon that day, for very
eagerness to see what it was like to eat it out of
doors. In the course of the afternoon Monna, (for
so, though I forget for what reason, I had named
our cow) lay down to chew the cud ; and I, undis-
turbed, even by boys, enjoyed a quiet game mean-
time with the grass and pebbles-my usual play-
things. I was roused from it by the unpleasant
discovery that the sun was getting low in the west,
that I was hungry again, and that it was high time
for Monna and me to be going home. I therefore
drew near with cautious steps to my alarming
charge, and walked about in front of her to show
her that I was stirring and thinking of going home.
14 Turnaside CotL/ae.
I hoped she would have taken the hint, but nothing
seemed to be further from her thoughts. So, hiding
my stick behind me, lest she should feel insulted by
it, I went closer to her, holding out my hand, and
saying, Monna, come home ; do come home,
Monna went on chewing and meditating. Then
I remembered that the boys whom I had seen
driving their cows through the lanes always cried
" Ca-a-ow!" to them ; perhaps she only understood
that language. So I tried it; but the small sound
I made would hardly have frightened a field-mouse,
and had not the slightest effect on Monna. What
was to be done ? If my father would but pass home
this way-but that was very unlikely. I even wished
that Nance would come to look after me, and
glanced again and again in the direction of home,
but in vain; no help appeared. At last I grew
desperate, and, going behind the cow, aimed a blow
with my stick-not too hard a one, though, for fear
of consequences-at her hind-quarters. Monna
whisked her tail in reply, and I leaped backwards
in terror, stumbled against an old furze-stump, and
rolled over. I had hardly picked myself up and
made sure that Monna was not coming after me
either to toss or to bite, when I heard a voice ex-
claiming, "Hey, hey, Reuben Bramble keeping' a cow!
Or is it the cow keeping' you, Reuben ?" And the
merry, mischievous face of Tommy Cadwallader
peered at me over a bit of rising ground.
I don't know," said I, dolefully. I want her to
come home, and I can't make her come."
Tommy turned head-over-heels down to where I
stood. Home to your house? Is she your'n,
then ?" he enquired.
She's father's," said I.
How long have you had her ?"
Going on for a week."
First I've heard on't," remarked Tommy, with
an air of some surprise. Bought her at the fair, I
suppose, on Monday ? And so they've a-put you
to herd her. Well, you're but a little chap, Reuben,
so I don't care if I helps you home with her. Give
us your stick here. Ca-a-ow, ca-a-ow het, het !"
And Monna, to my great relief, instantly obeyed.
"Be you going to look after her always ?" en-
quired Tommy, as we walked along at the black
cow's heels. Cause you ought to learn cow-driving
if so be. Ca-a-ow, ca-a-ow Say you that, now."
I obeyed, but made such a weak, absurd imitation,
that Tommy laughed until he had to lean against
Never you mind, Reuben," said he at last, seeing
that I looked somewhat out of countenance.
16 Turnaside Cottage.
" She'll soon come to know your ways; and I'll tell
you what, until you get straight with her, I'll come
and help you a bit."
You can drive real well," said I, admiringly.
"Yes, I can do most things if I've a mind to,"
returned Tommy, unabashed. There, go you on
and open your gate, lad." And before I could thank
him, Tommy had disappeared.
My father was at home, and he came out to tie
up Monna with a well-satisfied look. "That's right,
Reuben, my boy," he said. We'll make a man of
you yet, I'll warrant. How has she behaved ?"
Full of proud importance, I gave an account of
the day's adventures; but, alas! I was so pleased
with my father's unaccustomed praise, that I left out
all mention of Tommy's share in the home-driving.
My conscience, such as I had at the time, which
was not much, smote me for this as unfair towards
Tommy, and as we sat at tea, I made up my mind
to tell of it if my father should speak to me again.
But he did not, and I was so completely tired out
that, as soon as tea was over, I was glad enough to
creep to bed.
It was with a touch of remorse, therefore, that I
greeted Tommy's round face on the following
Tommy," said I, you are a real good one."
"Ain't I ?" said Tommy. That's just what I
thinks about it. I wish other people thought so too,
though; here's master 've a-hit me this very day,
because all the other boys would laugh."
Oh, that was very unfair !" cried I.
"'Twas, too," said Tommy. The other boys
needn't ha' looked at my faces if they didn't want.
Well, it's no odds : when I'm a man I'll be a sodger
like father, and go away to foreign parts; there ain't
no schoolmasters there. Prrt, ca-a-ow !"
Tommy Cadwallader's mother had married a
soldier, and had gone away with him to India, leav-
ing little Tommy with his grandparents. She sent
over a regular sum for his support, however, which
was enough to keep him at school, and to supply
him with better clothes than most of the other
village boys, besides an unlimited allowance of"ile"
with which to plaster down his naturally wavy hair
on Sunday, and on market days when he went
"into town." These advantages, together with a
remarkable fluency in both the English and Welsh
languages, gave him a certain position among the
other boys, which his bold and joyous temper well
maintained. Although he was only ten years old,
no game was complete without Tommy; and he
was at the bottom of every joke and every piece of
mischief that went on. He was always in a scrape,
18 Turnaside Cottage.
and yet, through his overflowing fun and never-fail-
ing good-humour, he was a favourite with everybody.
It was lucky for me that I had such a protector.
Not only did he help me in driving Monna until I
had gained boldness enough to manage her alone,
but when the other boys found me out and tried to
make me join their games, Tommy would not let
them bully me, but led them off to some other
sport when he saw that I really disliked their rough
play. Leap-frog and hockey had no charms for me;
being the weakest, I was sure to get hustled and
knocked about. So I was well pleased when they
gave me up as too dull for aught," and I was left
to my quiet playfellows, the rocks and bushes, and,
above all, a little white quartz pebble, Bobby by
name, whose adventures, were I to write them,
would, I think, fill a much larger book than mine
I cannot remember that I thought much, at that
period, about anything except the affairs of daily
life that went on around me. I never heard any
conversation except on those subjects, between my
father and Nance, or between Nance and her grand-
daughter. Books were of course nothing to me,
who could not read ; and I had no wish to learn, for
school, the place where everybody was taught,
seemed to me, from Tommy's descriptions, to be a
terrible place. Nance had taught me the Lord's
Prayer, which I repeated every evening after I got
into bed, with very little idea of its meaning, or of
why I said it. She had told me also that God made
me, that He could see me always, and that He was
angry when I did wrong. Of love and grace and
fatherly care she said not a word, and as neither
she nor my father liked to be bothered with ques-
tions, I never asked and never learnt anything more.
I doubt whether I even cared to do so. I delighted
in the sunshine and the flowers, the blue sky and
the glowing sunsets; but it never occurred to me to
wonder for what or whom they were made, or why
they were so beautiful. My life was very much on
a level with that of the cow, who enjoyed the fine
days, the open common and its green nooks, much
in the same fashion that I did. Monna and I became
great friends. She seemed uneasy if I remained
long out of her sight, and she would turn to me
with a low um-m-m of satisfaction when she heard
my voice in the morning, and stoop her rough head
for me to rub and caress.
Great was my pride and delight when a calf was
added to our household ; a little black shaggy
fellow with staggering legs, who watched me with
his large bluish eyes and licked my hand with his
rough tongue, and whom I think I loved almost
20 Turnaside Cottage.
as a brother. My first real grief was when this
cherished calf was sold-sold to the butcher one day
when I had been sent out on an errand to the shop.
I cannot think of it now without feeling sorry, he
was such a dear little fellow; but then, I was almost
wild with grief and anger. I thought my father
wicked and almost inhuman for having done it, and
for some days I quite hated Nance, because she
laughed and called me a little fool, and reminded
me that all veal had been calf once. She laughed
still more when Sally-the-shop, who had come into
tea as usual, offered to get me a bit of him, if it
would give me any pleasure. I really believe that
she meant it in all good faith ; but, indignant at this
outrage to my feelings, I rushed out into the cow-
house, and there, my father being absent, I remained
all night, and slept in the straw by Monna's side.
She missed her calftoo, and a mournful low from
Monna was enough to set me off in a fit of crying,
that only stopped when I was too much exhausted
to cry any longer. I was becoming really ill with
crying and fretting, when a childish idea, which
turned the current of my thoughts, happily soothed
my childish grief.
I had found an oddly-shaped piece of branch,
which, with a little imagination, could be thought
to represent an animal with four legs and a head.
This I called the calf, and set it to graze beside
Monna. My own hat and jacket, hung on a bush,
stood for the butcher, and I took care always to
stretch out one sleeve as though he were about to
grasp something. The unconscious calf then came,
guided of course by me, nearer and nearer to his
lurking enemy, until, just as he seized him with his
outstretched arm, I rushed in between, and, after a
short struggle, rescued the calf and stretched the
butcher headless and vanquished on the grass. This
game I repeated again and again, until at times I
could almost persuade myself that my version of
the story was the right one, and I was happy
T- I ..
CIAP. II.-MY LADY.
ONE day, as I was in the middle of a fierce
battle with the butcher, the snapping of a
rotten stick under somebody's tread made me look
round, and I beheld a lady close to me. She
smiled, and asked me, I think-for I was too much
startled to pay attention to her words-what game
I was playing at so eagerly. But I never had
seen a lady so near in all my life, and for a moment
I stood and stared; then, basely forsaking cow,
make-believe calf, and half-conquered butcher, I
took to my heels, and did not return until I had
seen the lady safely off the ground.
The only gentlefolks in the neighbourhood were
Squire Prickard and his wife, and Mr. Phelps, the
clergyman. Mr. Phelps had neither wife nor
daughter, and Mrs. Pickard was an invalid, and was
hardly ever seen beyond her garden gate. So to
me, who never went either to church or to the
market town, a lady was as rare and startling a
My Lady. 23
sight as a camel would have been crossing the
I forgot to finish my game when I came back;
the encounter with the lady was enough to fill my
thoughts for the rest of the afternoon; and, by dint
of thinking it over, I somehow ended in persuading
myself that I had acted an almost heroic part in the
adventure. I was eager to get home, that I might
be able to tell somebody the wonderful tale; and
when at last we came inside our gate, I cut short
my usual farewell caresses to Monna, and ran into
Nance was preparing to bake-she was fond of
doing things at unusual times-and I found her
standing at the oven door moving the blazing sticks
to and fro with an old broom-handle. I was fond
of baking days. I liked to gaze into the depths of
the red-hot glowing cavern, quivering with heat like
the mouth of the burning fiery furnace. Not that,
indeed, I knew anything about that as yet; I only
thought what a beautiful glow it was, and how good
the barley loaves would smell when they came out,
and how good they would taste, too, to-morrow at
breakfast. But on that day I hardly glanced at the
oven, but ran straight to pull at Nance's apron,
crying, "Nance, Nance, I saw a lady to-day !"
Get out from among my feet wi' ye," returned
24 Turnasidce Collage.
Nance; do you want to spoil this whole week's
batch with your cafflin' and bother, and barley-meal
gone up twopence the winchester last market-day ?
Lady, indeed Go you and carry me in a lump of
clay to stumm the door round. Sharp, now, and no
When I came back with the clay, the oven was
already swept out, and the sides and floor were
sparkling like the sky on a frosty night. I waited
until the bread was all in, and Nance was plastering
the clay round the edges of the flagstone door, before
I began again. But, Nance, the lady spoke to me
-she really did !"
Well, and did you make your bow and answer
her pretty, as you ought to have done ?"
I fell as from a pedestal on to common ground.
I had been fancying myself a hero, and now Nance's
question suggested an uncomfortable suspicion that
perhaps I might have behaved better under the
circumstances. I stammered out in reply, Why,
I didn't speak to her at all this time, but I will
"Think she will speak to ye again, and you that
rude to her? No!" exclaimed Nance, turning round
upon me. "There's a pig you are, too," added
she, as her eye fell on my grimed hands and
muddy boots. I never did see such a boy as you
My Lady. 25
for dirtying and tearing your things. How ever
have you gone and torn your jacket-back again ?
Look at that, now !"
I knew that it was torn, when it was, so to say,
not a jacket, but a butcher, and had got jagged
on the bush ; but it was of no use telling this to
Nance, so I looked in silence, and then crept away
to my usual retreat beside Monna, and employed
myself in planning what I would say and how I
would behave when I met my lady again.
I went to the same spot the next day, and hung
about there watching for my lady, with the speech
that I would say to her ready on my lips; but she
did not come. For a week or more after this the
weather was dull and rainy, and the days went by
without my catching even a distant sight of her. My
certain conviction that she would return faded,
until I began to fear that I never should see her
again; but still, whenever Nance asked me, with
her short laugh, Seen your lady, Reuben ?"
I answered, Not yet," and laid the fault to the
One day there came on such a pelting shower
that Monna and I were fain to take shelter in an
old shed under a quarry, which had been put to-
gether by the quarrymen to keep their tools in when
they were at work there. It was empty and open
26 Turnaside Collage.
now, and had served us before in stress of weather.
I snatched a good handful of grass as we ran in, and
was feeding Monna with it, bit by bit, when a voice
said, "Why, here is my little boy with the black
cow !" and, looking round, I saw the lady in the
Her words, unfortunately, reminded me of my
nickname given me by the boys, Miss Benny of
the black cow;" and my shyness came upon me
with such force that, if the lady had not stood be-
tween me and the door, I do believe I should have
run away again. Where all my fine answers were
gone, I cannot tell; not one would come to my help;
and I turned my back to the lady and hid my face
in Monna's side-not a comfortable thing to do, for
I remember that her hairy coat tickled my face
"What a nice quiet cow," said the lady, not
seeming to notice my rudeness. Is she yours ?"
No," said I, making an effort to bring out my
voice, which seemed to be gone in search of the
She seems very fond of you," said the lady.
" What is her name ?"
Monna," returned I, as before.
That is a pretty name. Did you give it her ?"
"Yes," said I, turning round. "She's father's
My Lady. 27
cow, and I take care of her always; and she's as
fond of me-why, I cannot go out of her sight but
she's calling me. She's that sharp, you can't think
-she knows almost everything. You may pat her
if you like, she won't hurt."
"And your name ?" said the lady, smiling and
"Reuben Bramble o' Turnaside," replied I. And
then, suddenly overcome with the sense of my own
boldness in thus chattering freely to the lady, I
rubbed my face into Monna's side and would not
say a word more, though I remember the lady spoke
gently to me, saying, Look up, little boy, and tell
me where you live." But I was peeping out at her
all the time, and presently I saw her go to the door
of the hut.
The rain is nearly over," she said; and look
what a lovely rainbow there is. It is a sign of fair
weather too, for
'A rainbow at night
Is the shepherd's delight.
Do you remember when the first rainbow was seen,
my boy ?"
No !" replied I, for I had followed her out to
look at it. "It must have been a good while
So it was," said the lady. It was just after
28 Turnaside Cottage.
the flood. God set the first bow in the cloud as
a sign and promise to Noah that He would never
send a flood again to destroy the earth. You do
not know the story of Noah ?" she added, seeing
that I looked none the wiser for this explanation.
No," said I, thinking meanwhile that Noah
might be somebody whom Squire Prickard knew,
but I was pretty sure that father did not.
Cannot you read, or say your letters ? Do you
go to no school ?"
And what would Monna do if I was to go away
from her ?" returned I, in alarm. I can't go. She
han't got nobody but me to look to her."
But you would like to learn to read, would not
you, if you need not go away from Monna to do
Ye-es," said I, because I saw that the lady ex-
pected me to say so, but wondering what learning
to read could be, if it did not mean going to school.
The lady stood looking at me for a minute or so,
and, as I looked up at her, I felt that I should not
mind telling her everything about the calf and the
butcher, and Bobby, the white pebble-all. I had
never felt so towards anyone before. Nance always
laughed at me; my father neither understood nor
heeded me ; Tommy patronised me ; but here was
someone who could and would understand and
My Lady. 29
sympathise. A feeling as of great longing filled
me, and 1 felt the warm blood rush to my face, but
I said nothing. The lady's eyes met mine, and she
smiled and said, "We will try it. If you will be
about here to-morrow afternoon, I will bring you a
picture of Noah and the rainbow, and we will see
about the reading."
Then we parted. I remembered my bow at the
last moment, and made it in my best style; and
then, as it was getting late, I called Monna, and
went home with the glow still at my heart, and the
hope of seeing the lady again to-morrow making
life look strangely bright.
I "would not tell Nance what had happened. I
took a secret pleasure in the thought that she was
supposing me to be still on the look-out for the
lady, while all the time I had the proud conscious-
ness of having held a long conversation with her-
longer, I was sure, than Nance had ever had with
any lady. Old Nance looked at me now and then
across the tea-table, perhaps because I looked un-
usually bright; but she said nothing, and I kept
my secret. As I lay in bed, I went over and over
again the incidents of that meeting, and planned
long future conversations, in which I told the lady
all those childish hopes and fears and troubles
that had hitherto found no listener.
30 Turnaside Collage.
I felt inclined the next day to hasten on the
afternoon by eating my dinner much too early, as
on the first day of my cow-herding. But my lady,
as I had begun to call her, came at last, and brought
me a book containing not only Noah but many
other Bible pictures, and gave it me for my very
own. She told me the story of Noah and the flood,
and then, taking a card with the alphabet printed
on it out of her pocket, she asked me whether I
would not like to learn my letters, that I might be
able to read the stories for myself.
I agreed eagerly ; but what a mysterious science
did it seem to me, as I bent over the queer
black marks, trying to learn their names and
shapes. But it was all a puzzle, and before long
the black marks began to dance and dazzle, be-
wildering me more than ever; and then the lady
put an end to the lesson, promising to come again
The possession of a book all my own was too
wonderful a thing to be kept to myself, and, as I
saw by the cart under the shed that my father was
at home, I rushed in, as soon as I had seen Monna
to her stall, holding up the book, and crying, See,
father; see here what I've got! look what a pretty
book my lady has given me !"
Yes, yes, child, very nice," said my father,
My Lady. 31
hardly turning his head; "but don't bother now,
there's a good boy."
My hands fell at my sides ; I felt as if all my
pleasure in the book was gone; and I crept silently
into my corner. I learnt afterwards that the new
mare, which had that day made her first journey,
had fallen lame, and turned out by no means worth
the price my father had paid for her; while, to
crown all, a ham that he had taken to sell, or rather
to give in part payment for the horse, had turned
out to be badly cured, and my father, justly angry
with Nance for her carelessness,had been upbraiding
her with it at the moment of my return. But I
understood nothing of this at the time, and only
felt nobody thought of me, nobody cared for me,
except, perhaps, my new friend. Well, I would care
only for pleasing her.
Accordingly,I studied my card diligently the next
day until my lady came, although I could get no
good from the study except accustoming my eyes
to the look of the queer marks that were so hard to
distinguish. I was slow at first; indeed, I began to
fear that I never should know some of the smaller
letters apart; but my lady was very patient, and
seemed neither surprised nor discouraged at my
dulness. The putting together of the letters into
words was hard work too, for why should b-a-t be
32 Turnaside Collage.
bat, or, still worse, c-a-t spell cat ? It dawned upon
me almost suddenly at last; the words took shape
before my eyes, and I could read. But the fight
had not been won without many a struggle.
Nearly every fine afternoon found me sitting at
my lady's feet in some sheltered nook or on some
sunny slope, while Monna grazed quietly near us.
If, through some fancy of Monna's for a more
distant part of the common, my lady did not
perceive us as she came on to it, I would attract her
attention by my cry of" Ca-a-ow !" and run towards
her, Monna placidly following. My lady told me
that her name was Miss Churchill, and that she was
staying with Mr. and Mrs. Prickard at the big house,
or The House, as the people of the village called it,
at the other side of the common. She had come
for a long visit-long enough, she hoped, for me to
learn to read fluently before she left. And so it
proved after all, for when once the words in the
book had a meaning for me, I spent almost my
whole time in making them out. I no longer lay
for hours listlessly in the sun; calf and butcher were
forgotten; my quartz pebble had no more long
journeys and perilous adventures ; I was absorbed
in learning to read, partly for its own sake, and
partly because it pleased my kind lady. The
village children did not come on the common much
.- -- '- -., i- ;-
"-- -, -' r1 -1 'i* '- ^ -
MY LADY'S LESSONS.
~: g -=-- .... ? '3 ..4 .
-` C, -74 I ~.i"
' I" .' ; ,,- _: *:' ,.;, J.,; jr
--" ... "7 l L., tk. ._. -,-" :'
My Lady. 33
at that time. Hay and corn harvest drew them
away to the fields, and there was a farm-house being
built, which groups of them went daily to superin-
tend, and to bother the builders instead of me ; so
I was left pretty much to myself.
I never told my lady all my thoughts and troubles,
as I had fancied that I could. It is not that she
did not prove as kind and sympathising as I could
possibly have imagined; but it is so much easier
to think and plan about saying a thing than really
to say it, and then she gave me so much that was
new to ponder and think over, that my past life was
almost forgotten. For it was not only reading that
she taught me. Every afternoon, when the reading
lesson was over, Miss Churchill told me some Bible
story or taught me a few lines of a hymn, and talked
about God and His dealings towards us; about
Jesus and Heaven, about right and wrong; and
almost all of this was new to me. I knew indeed
what Nance considered right and wrong-for me,
that is to say ; but her ideas and mine were not at
all the same on that subject. I saw that she and
Sally, her grand-daughter, did and said much behind
my father's back that they would on no account
have had him know; and why should not I in the
same way pretend to do as Nance wished, while I
disobeyed her as soon as her back was turned?
34 Tzurnaside Cottage.
True, she said if I stole the sugar or told her a story
God was angry, but I had little hope of ever pleasing
Him, and, indeed, I think I hardly cared about it;
why should I, when I did not love Him? But
when I came to learn about Him, of His love and
care for us, of all that Jesus had done for us, and
of the better world above, all my feelings changed.
It was like a new life opening out before me ; there
was some reason for living, and for trying to be good.
That God was a Being to love and not to dread;
that He loved me instead of perpetually being angry
with me; that He was caring for me; that I might
pray to him now, and go to live with Him some
day-was not this, coming as news at an age when
I was able to feel the force of it, and from lips whose
every word I trusted in, enough to change the whole
aspect of my life ? If this was true, why, I
wondered, had I never heard it before ? At last I
asked Miss Churchill, Does father not know all
this ?" She assured me that he did. But then," I
said, why did he never talk about it to Nance nor
to me ?"
What we feel most deeply we talk of rarely,"
my lady replied. "It is not usual for people
to talk about death, and Christ, and Heaven, and
other solemn subjects. I talk to you, Reuben,
because I want to teach you about them ; but I
My Lady. 35
do not and could not make them common subjects
And with this I tried to satisfy myself, glad that
at any rate my lady would talk to me about them.
She taught meto repeat simple prayers, and explained
to me the Lord's Prayer, which I had formerly said
with hardly greater profit than if it had been a
column of the multiplication table. And I really
tried to be a better boy, and I think I was so in
some respects ; at any rate, I wished to be, and that
is something. The long hours that I spent alone
were more than ever delightful to me, for I would
think over Miss Churchill's Bible talks and stories,
and say over the hymns she taught me, and think
how wonderful and delightful it was that I was God's
child, that Jesus loved me, that the Holy Ghost,
who had done such wonderful things in the days ot
the apostles and prophets, would come and help
even little helpless me. And I would gaze up at
some break in the clouds, wishing-almost half
hoping-to see some white-robed angel darting
through, sent from Heaven on an errand of love.
CIHAP. III.-GOING TO CIURCII.
SFANCY my lady thought it not good for me to
be so much alone, for she questioned me as to
my friends and companions, and whether I never
went into the village-never even to church. To
the village I went as seldom as possible, only when
sent on an errand; to church I had never gone.
I could not, I said; for I must tend Monna on Sun-
days as well as other days.
You could go there at present," Miss Churchill
said, "after Monna is safe at home; for during the
long light summer evenings, Mr. Phelps gives us,
every other Sunday, an evening instead of an after-
I readily promised for the following Sunday; and,
indeed, felt eager to go as long as Sunday was a
day or two off; but as the time came near, I began to
wonder whether I dared go in alone-whether, if I
did, I should know where to sit. Suppose I should
sit down in somebody else's place, and that some
Going to Church. 37
body else should come and turn me out. Suppose
I should even be turned back from the door as a
stranger, and, I knew, rather a ragged one. I was
thinking over these things on Saturday evening as
I walked home, my heart sinking lower and lower,
when Tommy Cadwallader suddenly scrambled
over the hedge, and dropped into the lane beside
"Oh, Tommy," said I, eagerly, "are you going to
church to-morrow ?"
Dunno," replied Tommy, brushing the earth off
his trousers. "Whiles I does and whiles I doesn't,
according' to. Why, what's up now ? How do you
ax me that ?"
Oh, nothing ; it does not matter," I said. Only
I was thinking of going, and I thought if you
meant to go- "
You would take care of me, or me of you, one
of the both," said Tommy. Well, I don't mind
if I do, I han't a got nothing on hand else for Sun-
day night. Meet you me at the green gate below
I was at the green gate long before the bells
began to ring, and had had time to get very
impatient before Tommy appeared, well oiled and
brushed, with black shining boots, and a cap, with
a long tassel to it, which was the envy of his class.
38 Turnaside Cottage.
"Late ?" he answered to my remonstrance.
"There's time enough, heaps on it; we shan't be
past no time getting there. But, goodness me,
Reuben," he exclaimed, stopping short, them ain't
your Sunday clothes !"
It's all I've got," said I, looking down mourn-
fully, for I felt keenly the difference between
Tommy's spruceness and my shabbiness.
"Well, I call it a real shame!" pronounced
Tommy. "And there's your shirt-my goodness!"
Nance said she had not time to get me a clean
one on Saturday," said I.
"Wouldn't I call her, if I was you!" cried
Tommy. "You can't go to church a this way,
whatever. Wait you a bit for all, I'll show you
what I'll do"-and back ran Tommy into his grand-
father's house. He came out again with a crimson
woollen comforter, which he tied round my neck,
and tucked down so as completely to hide the ob-
That will do first-rate !" pronounced he, retiring
to admire the effect. It must have looked rather
odd, for it was a warm summer evening, and the
comforter was, I confess, far too hot to deserve its
Had not I better go home, perhaps ?" said I,
Going to Ciurch. 39
Not a bit, you'll do;" and Tommy set off.
So I made up my mind to endure the stifling,
and was as grateful as the heat would let me be.
The clergyman was already in his place as we
entered, but I must do Tommy the justice to say
that, but for the hindrance occasioned by the red
comforter, I believe we should have been in good
time. Tommy marched unabashed up the aisle and
took possession of an empty bench, closely followed
by me. At first I saw nothing, but presently re-
covering myself I began to look round me. I had
seen Mr. Phelps before, though not near ; for with
two widely-scattered parishes to attend to, and not
sufficient means to keep a carriage of any kind, it
may well be supposed that he did not often find
his way to such an out-of-the-way house as Turna-
side, whose master was, besides, almost always away
from home. But from the time that I first caught
sight of him, I could hardly take my eyes off Mr.
Phelps as long as we were in church. It was not
himself, however, so much as his white surplice that
attracted my attention. I thought it beautiful, like
the picture in my book of the angels at the sepulchre
clothed in long white garments; and then I wondered
whether the linen ephod worn by young Samuel-
my favourite hero at that time-was at all like that.
Presently I ventured to lance round at Miss
40 Turnaside Coltage.
Churchill in the Squire's pew, but the sight of her
quiet, attentive face called back my thoughts to
listen to what the clergyman was saying. He had
a clear strong voice, very pleasant to listen to; and I
especially liked those parts of the service, such as
the Psalms, in which minister and people responded
to each other in turn.
But how great was my delight when the singing
began. I felt as if I were lifted up and carried along
by it. It was such as may be heard in many
village churches, but I, who had never heard half-
a-dozen voices together before, thought it most
grand and wonderful. Surely it was like this that
the angels must sing in Heaven It was almost
too much ; my eyes filled with tears; and I believe I
should have burst out crying, if Tommy, perceiving
my transport, had not recalled me to myself by a
gentle tug of the hair at the back of my head. I
was scandalised to see him settle himself to sleep
soon after the sermon began, while I was trying to
attend with all my might. But I found a set dis-
course a much harder thing to follow than Miss
Churchill's remarks and explanations. I could have
attended better, I thought, if I might have taken
off that stifling, uncomfortable comforter.
After the sermon, came, to my delight, another
hymn and then, still under Tommy's leadership, I
Going to C/hzrch. 41
rushed out of church among the first. I longed to
turn back and tell Miss Churchill how much I had
enjoyed it, but she was walking beside Mrs.
Prickard's Bath chair, and I dared not go up to
I accompanied Tommy to his door, gave back the
crimson comforter with a sigh of relief, and hastened
home. I was received by Nance with enquiries
whether I expected that they were going to wait
all night for me. She did not know what children
were coming to, not she. When she was a child,
so sure as one of them went off without leave a that
way, away they might pack to bed without their
supper, and quite right too.
I had learnt that it was of no use answering old
"Tinder-and-Flint," so I waited until she had talked
herself out of breath ; and then my father asked,
" Where have you been, Reuben ?"
To church, father," I said. Oh, it was so nice
-the singing was beautiful. I wish you had been
there too, you would have liked it."
And what put you upon going there ?" inter-
rupted Nance. "Do you think I don't see you,
trying to poke yourself into the gentlefolks'
notice? Much good you'll get by it! Why, you
just went so as your Miss Churchill might see you
42 Tzurnaside Cottage.
"I didn't!" cried I ; though now, looking back
on it, I confess that there was some truth in Nance's
My father interrupted us by saying, Where's
that book the lady gave you, Reuben ? You have
never shown it me."
Off I ran to get it, and was surprised to find how
well my father knew the history of each picture.
It was, then, as Miss Churchill had said ; he did know
about all these things which she had taught me,
only he did not talk of them. I felt glad at the
thought, and drew a little closer to him. We spent
a very pleasant evening over the book, and before
I went to bed my father asked whether church was
at the same hour next Sunday.
"Not next Sunday," I said, "but the Sunday
after." I feared to add more, though I should have
liked to ask my father to come with me. But his
good intention, if he had formed it, was forgotten
before the day came round, and I went again under
Tommy's guardianship. I was not adorned, how-
ever, with the red comforter; for Nance, grumbling
to herself all the time, washed my shirt and mended
my jacket, and at the last moment stuck a new cap on
my head, observing that she could not see, not she,
what pleasure there was in going about a disgrace
to one's family. Neither could I, for the matter of
Going to Chuztrch. 43
that; but for once I was too well pleased with her
deeds to mind her sharp words much.
The next great event that stands out among my
childish recollections is a visit that I made to the
great House, that awe-inspiring place where Mr.
Prickard lived, and within sight of whose topmost
windows not even the boldest bird-nester dared
Mr. Prickard was not popular in the parish. He
was stern and unrelenting, hard in his bargains, and
severe towards his tenants. I know that we boys
were frightened out of our lives at him, and I
verily believe that our elders were often not much
less so. Not a man of them ever went to The House
if he could help it; and the reason why I came to
be so bold is as follows.
Miss Churchill was fond of plants and flowers,
and taught me to notice them too. One day she
asked me if I knew whether a certain moss, which
she described to me, was to be found in the neigh-
bourhood. She was helping Mr. and Mrs. Prickard
to make a rockery in the garden, she said; and
they were anxious to get some of this moss to grow
I thought I had seen it in a woody hollow which
Monna and I sometimes visited; but it was a good
way off from the part of the common in which we
44 Turniaside Cotl(ae.
were, and I would not take Miss Churchill so far
in the blazing sun until I had been there myself to
make sure of it. As soon, therefore, as I had brought
Monna home that evening, and had hastily
swallowed my tea, I ran off to the hollow, found
the moss growing there, filled my hat with it, and
was across the common again, and half-way up the
drive leading to the big house, before I considered
what I was about. There I suddenly came to a
sense of my own rashness, and stopped short, half
minded to turn round and go home again after all.
I felt ashamed to do this, however; besides, some-
body might already have seen me from the great
Should I go to the back door and ask for Miss
Churchill ? But the servants would be sure to turn
me away : a little ragged boy with a hatful of moss.
They might laugh at me, too. No, that was not to
be thought of. Should I put the moss down at the
garden gate, and leave it there ? but the gardener
might sweep it away, or the wind scatter it before
While I stood hesitating, I thought I heard Miss
Churchill's voice, and looking over the garden fence,
I saw what I knew to be the top of her hat moving
along. If I could only let her know that I was here ?
What if I were to cry Ma'am," or My Lady"?
Going to Chu rch. 45
No, it did not sound well. Hullo was worse.
With a sudden impulse I uttered my well-known
cry of" Ca-a-ow !" The next moment I heartily
wished that I had not, or at least that she might
not have heard it. But she had, for before I had
time to retreat she looked over the fence, exclaiming,
"Why, Reuben, is that you ? Oh, you good boy,
you have brought us some moss !"
And she led me into the garden, and straight up
to the place where stood the dreadful Mr. Prickard,
trowel in hand.
Why, what queer little scamp have you picked
up there ?" he asked, as I stood pulling my forelock
and wishing myself safely away again.
He is a friend of mine," said Miss Churchill;
" we met one another on the common. See! he has
brought us the very moss we were wanting."
There's heaps more," said I, in a whisper; "and
I'll take you there, if you like, Miss, to-morrow."
Here, my boy," said Mr. Prickard, holding out a
penny ; here's for your trouble."
"Oh no, please, sir," said I, I didn't want-
I brought it for the lady."
And you think the lady must pay you ? Well,
I have no objection," replied Mr. Prickard. Then
he asked my name and age; and turning to Miss
Churchill, who was emptying the moss out of my hat,
46 Turnaside Cottace.
he remarked, "The boy looks fairly intelligent:
puny, though. Do you go to school regularly ?"
No, sir," said I, wondering what objectionable
quality might be meant by puny."
No I hope your father punishes you well for
matching : he ought."
No, sir," said I again, seeing that the Squire
seemed to expect an answer, but in no little alarm
at his loud voice.
Rcuben has not been sent to school yet," inter-
posed Miss Churchill, "but he can read, for all that;
can you not, Reuben ?"
"Not go to school !" exclaimed Mr. Prickard.
" What on earth do you spend your day in, then ?
Mischief, eh ?"
I keep father's cow," said I, rather indignantly,
for I had never spent a day in mischief in my life.
Oh Then I suppose he feeds her about in the
lanes and hedges like a pauper's cow, instead of
hiring a field like an honest man. Tell him I say
he ought to be ashamed of himself And tell him
from me that he ought to put you to school: do
you hear ?"
Yes, sir," said I ; but without the slightest in-
tention of repeating all this to my father.
Here, Reuben, thank you; and good night," said
Miss Churchill, returning me my hat.
Going to CLChrch. 47
I hastily made my bow and escaped, followed by
another warning from the Squire about going to
school. I made up my mind as I went home that
nothing, not even my lady, should tempt me to go
near the big house again.
Reuben," said Miss Churchill to me not many
days afterwards, Mr. Prickard has been speaking
to me again about your going to school, and I really
think it would be a good thing. Now, I am going
away next week for a few days, and as Monna's
new-born calf will keep her at home for a day or
two, do you not think that you could be spared for
that one week, by way of a trial ? And then, if
you are a good boy and get on well, perhaps some
arrangement might be made for you to continue."
"Oh, please, please not to make me go, Miss !"
I cried. "I couldn't be spared-I'd a deal sooner
not !" Indeed, I was filled with dismay at the
thought. What, must I go and run my head, as it
were, into the very stronghold and domain of those
boys whom I had so carefully avoided all my life,
and the sight of whom in the distance had cost
Monna and me so many a weary round, lest I
should be pursued by their dreaded greetings of
"Ah, ha Miss Benny, how do you find yourself?"
" Rather rough weather for you to be out in. Shall
I lend you an umbrella, my dear?" "Take care o'
48 Turnaside Cottage.
your black cow there, she'll knock you over with her
tail." "Bless you, she'd have eaten him up long
ago, if he hadn't been such a Bramble !" And then
would come a shout of laughter at this oft-repeated
joke. For these, and remarks like these, I cared a
great deal too much, seeing that they were, after
all, only meant as a rough sort of play; and I
entreated Miss Churchill not to send me to school.
But she was bent on it, and who could resist her ?
not I, who never was very great at resisting any-
body; and at last it came to this, that if my father
agreed-which I quite hoped he would not-I would
try it for that one week.
Miss Churchill was determined to press the point,
for, hearing that my father had not gone out that
day, she accompanied Monna and me home to
Turnaside. I begged her to wait in the lane for a
minute, while I rushed on to warn Nance of her
coming, in time for her to change her cap and
Bless the boy !" cried Nance, when I burst in
with, Here's my lady come to see you, father !"
" Whatever can have got you to go bringing your
ladies here, and me all of a mess, and the room all
of a dirt, you young rascal as you are !"
However, when my lady came to the door, Nance
was all ready with her best cap and her best curtsey,
Going to Czlhurch. 49
and dusted the arm-chair for her with her clean
apron, and thanked her again and again for
My father was in great good-humour at the birth
of Monna's fine heifer calf, and he received Miss
Churchill's proposal with most alarming readiness.
"Yes," he said, no doubt it would be a good thing
for the boy. He could not say he wanted him
particularly at present, so if the lady liked to put him
to the school for a week- And then he thanked
her for her kindness to me and for the books she
had given me, and the thing was settled.
I was in a fever of apprehension all the next day.
It was Sunday, so that I had no lesson from Miss
Churchill, or I should certainly have again besought
her not to send me into this lion's den. I called to
mind all that Tommy had told me from time to
time of beatings and cuffings inflicted by the master;
and the more I thought of it, the more dreadful did
the prospect appear.
^'- 'S --n--
CHAP. IV.--M SCIIOOL DAY.
T HERE was no National School then in our
parish. The only school that there was, was
a private boys' school, kept by a Mr. Tombs ; and
all the farmers and other neighbours who could
afford it sent their sons there to learn to read and
write in English, with a little spelling and summing.
Further he could not go, for he knew no more him.
self; but then nothing more was ever demanded of
him, as he certainly did not succeed in inspiring
his scholars with a desire after knowledge for its
Miss Churchill took me to the school herself on
Monday morning, and presented me to Mr. Tombs,
who received me very graciously, and made many
promises to take care of me.
School had already begun, so, on hearing that
I could read, Mr. Tombs put me at once into a
reading-class, where to my great satisfaction I
found myself not far from Tommy Cadwallader.
MIy School Day. 51
But when I glanced across at him, he greeted me
with such astonishing grins and grimaces of welcome,
that he set the whole class -;- li !, and made me
feel hotter and more uncomfortable than ever. It
was a chapter in the Bible that was being read, and
I was quite capable of taking part in it ; but when
my turn came, I found my voice absolutely gone, and
no effort of mine could bring out more than a
hoarse whisper. Mr. Tombs therefore passed me
over, remarking, to stop the laughter of the rest,
that it would be no bad thing if some of the other
boys were to lose their voices too. I had to submit
to a good deal of secret patting on the back from
my next neighbours ; but I did not much mind it,
only that it made me feel rather sick. I have for-
gotten what chapter it was that was read-one out
of Leviticus, I think-but no questions were asked
as to the meaning ; as soon as the reading was over,
the books were shut up.
The next lesson was dictation. I had never
written, except upon a slate on my knee, and the
new position at the desk embarrassed me. I found
it impossible, too, to follow the words which were
read out to us, distracted as I was by whisperings
behind me of Poor Miss Benny and is she
frightened ? and has her lady left her here all
alone ? I was conscious that I had done very
52 Tzurnaside Cottag-c.
badly, and was much relieved when the master
passed me over without remark.
Tommy, however, did not escape so easily.
I am ashamed of you, sir !" I heard the master
saying. "All these years that you have been
in my school, and to write no better than that!
How do you spell chalk, pray ?" and he pointed
to one of the words on Tommy's much-smeared
S-h-o-r-k, chalk !" replied Tommy, cheerfully.
For shame," said the master. "Why, the smallest
boy in the school could answer better than that !
Come here, Erasmus Evans." A little pale fellow,
with a large head, heavy eyes, and prominent fore-
head, came and placed himself beside the brown
and straight-limbed Tommy.
There !" continued the master; "here is a boy,
not half your size, who can read and spell and do
everything ten times better than you. Look at /iis
I was trembling all over for sympathy by this
time, and hardly knew whether to expect to see
Tommy burst into tears, or smash his slate on the
head of the provoking little Erasmus.
Well done, Razzy, my boy," said Tommy,
benignantly patting the rough, dusty-coloured hair
of his small schoolmate. "Go you on as you've
Mly School Day. 53
begun, and you'll be a ornament to the place you
With that he sat down, put his hands in his
pockets, and looked round grinning to receive the
applause of the whole school. The master had
passed on, seemingly without hearing Tommy's
speech. Presently Tommy looked up with pre-
tended surprise. Be ye there still, Razzy ? You
may go back to your work, we don't want you here
And Razzy retired,without having uttered a word.
My greatest trial began when twelve o'clock
struck. I was carried headlong out of doors by
the rush of scholars, and joke and question hailed
thick upon me. Whatever are you doing here,
Miss Benny ? this is not a girls' school." Where's
the cow, my dear ? How didn't you bring her with
you ?" No, no ; she had ought to go to a girls'
school too." Benny's given over caring for th'
would black cow ; he's his lady's pet, he is." This
last remark was made by Simon Williams, the
biggest boy in the school, and one of the most
Don't," said I, turning away.
Simon put himself in front of me again, saying,
" Did the big boys tease it, a dear; and would it run
and tell on 'em to its lady ?"
54 Tzurnaside Cottage.
Don't," repeated I, feeling ready to cry.
"Simon's jealous, he wants to be the lady's pet
1, I;," remarked Tommy, with his mouth full of
I don't, then !" cried Simon, turning upon him.
" Who says I do ? "
You hadn't better go on a that way any more,
or everybody will think you do," returned Tommy.
"I say, Simon, I jumped over the ditch a sight
furrer'n you, yesterday."
You didn't, then "
Did, though ; and I'll do it again to-day if you
don't look out."
"Come on, then!" shouted Simon; and away
they went down the hill, with all the rest of the
boys after them, some to watch their jumping, and
some to go home to dinner. I had brought my
bread and cheese with me, and as soon as Tommy's
cleverness had set me free from my troublesome
companions (for the challenge to go and jump had
been made, I knew, for my sake) I bethought me
of dinner, and went in to fetch it from among the
hats and caps, where I had left it. Alas somebody
had been there before me, and all the dinner I
found was the empty cotton handkerchief in which
it had been wrapped. I had to struggle with my
tear.; as I picked up the emptied handkerchief;
My School Day. 55
going without one's dinner is so unpleasant,
especially if somebody else has got it. Even if
there had been time for me to go home and back
again, it was very doubtful whether Nance would
give me another dinner, and I felt as if I had not
spirit enough left to ask for it. So I lay down
under a bank and was sad, till school-time came
What with the morning's hubbub, and the going
without mydinner, and the effort to keep from crying,
my head was aching so that all I recollect of the
afternoon's school is a confused shouting, droning,
shoving, and moving to and fro; above all which
rose from time to time loud orders from the master,
accompanied not unfrequently by a cuff or a rap
on the knuckles. At last the welcome order came
to stand up for prayers. Mr. Tombs had his hand
on the book, and was settling his spectacles, when
a woman's head was thrust in at the door with,
" .1 ,i- ., you're wanting out here, at oncst." And
Mr. Tombs disappeared, leaving us all standing
there with folded hands.
We waited with very tolerable patience until the
clock struck four, but then the murmurs and com-
plaints grew louder and louder.
Let us go, not let's wait no more for'n," said
Simon at last.
56 Turnaside Cottage.
No, no, stop you a bit," cried Tommy ; I'll shew
you what we'll do." And going boldly up to the
master's desk, he took the prayer-book and began
to turn over the pages, all the other boys pressing
round to watch him.
"We han't a got no clerk, though," continued
Tommy, looking up with his finger on the place he
had fixed on. Ha, I knows! Reuben, you're the
youngest scholard; come you here, lad. Get back
into your places, you rest."
li don't know how to do nothing, said Simon,
with much contempt.
Don't he ? and a deal better'n you, Simon ; so
hold you your tongue," retorted Tommy. Now,
Reuben, catch hold," he continued, putting into my
hand an open copy-book, "and whenever you hears
me come to a stop, say you, 'Amen.' That's all."
I took the book and stood where Tommy placed
me, straight in front of him, with all gravity and
innocence ; for I really believed that this was some
ceremony that the latest comer had to go through
on his first day, and was well pleased to get it over
in the master's absence.
Tommy began in a loud, clear voice-" A man
may not marry his grandmother."
Amen !" said I, perceiving that he came to a
My School Day. 57
There was a general titter, but Tommy went
boldly on ; I repeating Amen as he proclaimed
each forbidden relationship, until one voice after
another joined mine, and we had quite a chorus.
Tommy had gone all down the man's column,
and was beginning the woman's, when his voice
suddenly failed, and he dropped the book and sank
behind the desk. My next "Amen" was so ready on
the tip of my tongue that out it came whether I
would or no, and even as I said it I saw the angry
eyes of Mr. Tombs glaring above the boys' heads.
Then, and not till then, did it flash across me that
I was the dupe of some practical joke ; down fell
the copy-book, and down went my burning face
into my hands.
Whose voice did I hear saying 'Amen' as
I came in ?" demanded Mr. Tombs, in an awful
"'Twas the new boy, sir cried Simon.
For shame, Simon; you was saying it too your-
self! cried another.
And so was you- "
"And you- "
Silence !" shouted the master. "I will no
longer delay the closing of school ; therefore,
Reuben Bramble, return to your place. But when
prayers are over you will remain behind, that I may
58 Turnaside Cottage.
receive an explanation of this extraordinary and
most culpable behaviour."
How it was that Tommy had escaped notice I
cannot tell, but there he was at his end of the row
of boys, looking as cool and unconcerned as if he
had disapproved and kept out of the whole affair.
I went to my place, feeling like a prisoner con-
demned to be hanged. If the earth would but open
and hide me or if I could but turn into a mouse,
and run into a hole in the wall Remain behind !
What was he going to do to me? cane or flog
me ? I was not clear as to what these words meant,
except that they were some terrible kind of beating.
Or would he lead me home in disgrace before all
the village, and make my father believe me guilty
of I know not what ? Or would he drag me before
Mr. Prickard for punishment, and I should be turned
out-disowned. No, I would do anything sooner
than face such a doom. I would run away into the
wood, and live on roots and berries. I would go to
Pembroke, to Milford, and get taken on board a
ship, and go away-no matter where. I felt at the
moment that I would rather die than face Mr.
The moment we rose from our knees, I took ad-
vantage of the confusion, and was off, out at the
door, and away. I heard the master calling after
"I -II'Il - .-- --- '_ N"i "
B I F I : i
I - _- _
I RUN AWAY FROM SCHOOL.
lMy Sch/ool Day. 5)
me, I heard the boys starting in pursuit; but on
I ran, faster than I had ever run in my life.
Throwing a terrified glance back as I turned a
corner, I was dismayed to see Tommy the foremost
of my pursuers. Next after him, and not far behind,
There a be! I seen him! I seen him!" shouted
Tommy, pointing frantically in exactly the opposite
direction to the one I had taken. Away he dashed,
away went all the others after him, and their shouts
grew fainter and fainter in the distance.
Not for this did I slacken my speed, however; I
hardly knew where I was going, but my legs carried
me straight home, and I never paused until I sank
panting and dizzy at my father's feet, clasping his
knees and sobbing, too faint and breathless to
He lifted me up and tried to make out what was
the matter ; but for a long time 1 could do nothing
but cling to him trembling, and entreat him not to
let them take me. At last, however, I sobbed out
my story; and to my great relief, my father ex-
pressed much indignation, declared that his boy
should not be hunted like a dog, nor punished for
the pranks of others, and that he would not give
me up; no, not if Mr. Prickard himself came to
fetch me. For, in the fulness of my heart, I told
o6 Tzu-naside Coltage.
him everything-Mr. Prickard's order that I must
be sent to school, and his message about the cow,
"And I shan't go back to school to-morrow,
father ?" I concluded.
"No, nor never again to that place," said my father.
" They shall learn that I will not stand such treat-
ment to me nor mine. Pauper's cow, indeed Who
cribbed a bit of our common last year for his cows,
if it was not Mr. Prickard himself?"
So there's an end of all the fine book-larnin'
and school-goin'," broke in Nance. I knowed how
wouldd be from the first, I did."
"Why did you not say so?" asked my father.
"You seemed as pleased as anyone."
"'Twasn't for the likes of me to go again' the
lady ; and you would never have believed me, what-
ever," returned Nance. "There's angry she'll be!
We shan't have you a running' after her no more,
there's one thing."
I was so upset that I answered this remark by a
fresh burst of crying, and my father having finished
his tea, ordered me to bed and went out. Nance
presently followed to give the calf its supper, and
she had hardly turned her back when Tommy crept
in on tip-toe, all grins and smiles, evidently thinking
the whole matter a capital joke.
My School Day. 61
"Oh, Tommy !" said I, how could you ?"
Couldn't help it; it was such fun !" and Tommy
began laughing again. There's well you done it
too. Varn't master savage, that's all!"
"What do you think he'll do to me ?"
Bless you, nothing returned Tommy. "Not
but he might ha' walloped you then, if he'd a
cotched you. My, you've been a crying! Be you
frightened, Reuben ? Tell you what; mitch you
to-morrow, and I'll mitch too, and we'll go out
nutting, you and me-there 'll be fun!"
He had no time for more, for the approaching
clank of Nance's wooden-soled shoes was the
signal for him to decamp. He called for me the
next morning, true to his word ; but I was far more
fit to stay in bed than to go nutting. I had made
myself almost ill with fright, and could not close my
eyes without terrible dreams of being pursued by
Mr. Tombs in the shape of a big dog, or else Mr.
Prickard jumped upon me with glaring eyes, or
they both lay waiting for me at the bottom of some
pit, while Simon lowered me down to them hanging
helpless by the collar of my jacket. Again and
again did I wake terrified and screaming-or worse,
unable to scream-until I dreaded the night and its
terrors of darkness, although day only brought a
change of fears. Then I sat weak and weary by
62 Ttrnzaside Cottage.
the fire; or, if driven from thence, beside Monna in
the cow-house, where she was detained by the
wild stormy weather; trembling at every sound, and
fancying that each step I heard might be the master
coming to claim me as his prey.
As the days passed by, however, and no one
came, I grew bolder and my fears grew less. My
father took no notice of me after the first day, but
Nance tried to laugh my terror out of me, thereby
doing me almost as much harm as Sally, whose
delight it was to come bouncing in, declaring that
Mr. Tombs and all his scholards were coming down
the lane, that she might enjoy the momentary start
of terror which I could never completely hide. But
Tommy visited me almost daily, and forced handfuls
of nuts on me, making big promises how that he
would knock down the would master, ay, and Mr.
Prickard too, if they durst come anigh me ; which
comforted me much. He it was who told me when
Miss Churchill came back, for she was absent
longer than she had intended ; and by the time that
she returned, I was sufficiently recovered to venture
out to meet her. For years afterwards, however,
when I was unwell or overtired, my nightly panics
would now and then return.
My kind lady heard my story without laughing
at me, and consoled and yet half-vexed me by the
My School Day. 63
assurance that everybody had probably forgotten
all about me by this time. Our lessons went on
again as usual; there was no more talk of my going
The autumn was drawing fast into winter, and
my hours with Miss Churchill were often cut short
by rain or cold. This was the more vexatious to
me, as the time was coming near when my lady must
go away, and without any certain prospect of her
ever coming again. How I grudged every day on
which the weather prevented our meeting, and with
what redoubled zeal did I learn the lessons that she
set for me, often bringing her a whole hymn or
column of spelling, when but half had been marked
for me. Once, soon after she had given me a Bible
of my own, I surprised her by repeating the whole
parable of the Prodigal Son; no slight task for me,
for I was slow at learning by heart, especially when
there was neither rhyme nor swing of verse to help
my memory. She seemed sorry to be obliged to
leave her pupil ; and as for me, I dared not think
what I should do without her.
One afternoon, when it wanted but three days of
the day she was to leave, Miss Churchill said to
me, Reuben, I have found a way at last for you to
go on with your learning after I am gone. No, I
will not bid you go to school again," she added,
64 Turnaside Collage.
smiling at my anxious glance of enquiry, "but to
my own kind old tutor, who is settled now in a
small lodging on this side of Rhydcwm. He used
to teach my sisters and I when we were little,
and when I went yesterday to bid him good-bye, it
occurred to me to tell him about you, and he offers
to teach you in the evenings, if you can go to him.
You would like that, would you not?"
Yes, miss," said I, trying not to cry, as I thought
how desolate I should be without her.
"He is very kind and gentle," she went on, "and
so fond of study, that I remember it used to be
quite a pleasure to learn of him. I thought you
could go to him after tea, when Monna is safe in
her stall. He is in Mrs. Howells' lodgings, so you
see you will not have any part of the town to go
through. I will give you a note to him; and mind,
you must take it him as soon as I am gone."
She went on talking and planning, but I was so
filled with the thought of her going, that I fear I
did not half respond as I might have done to her
efforts to cheer me, and seldom got beyond a
mournful submission to all that she proposed.
The day of Miss Churchill's departure broke
stormy and wild. The rain came down in scuds of
driving mist, but I was out as soon as it was light,
gathering a nosegay of such wild flowers as the
lMy School Day. 65
storm had left unbattered. I had taken out of the
drawer, when Nance's back was turned, a bit of
dingy white paper, on which I wrote in my best
hand, "Good-bye, my dear lady." I tried to find
the word good-bye in my Bible, that I might be
sure to spell it rightly, but could not. I forget how
I wrote it at last, but I remember I had a good cry
over the sentence when it was written, it looked so
pathetic. This piece of paper I wrapped round my
poor wild-flower nosegay, and went out with it to
meet her. It was all I had to offer my lady by way
of a parting gift, and I went and stood with it at
the bottom of a hill where I knew they must stop
for a moment to take off the drag. The wind
buffeted me and whipped my face with my damp
hair, but I did not care so long as it left my eyes
free to look for the carriage. At last it came over
the brow of the hill, and on the box I saw Mr.
Prickard. I was not prepared for this, and my
heart gave a jump, for I had by no means lost my
unreasonable dread of him. Not even he, however,
could frighten me away to-day; and as the carriage
stopped I came forward, thrust my flowers in at the
window without a word, and stooped to pick up
the drag. Then, with just time for a smile, and
"Oh, thank you, Reuben! Good-bye, my boy,"
from my lady, she was gone, and I flung myself
56 Turnaside Cottage.
down and cried after her until I dared not go home
to dinner, for fear of Nance's cutting remarks upon
my woe-begone looks.
Even if I had had dry clothes to go in, I had no
heart to go and seek out Mr. Hurst, Miss Churchill's
old tutor, on that first evening. I had not even the
heart to open my books, over which I usually em-
ployed my evenings, but crept off to bed as soon as I
dared. I called to mind what Miss Churchill had
told me about God being our best Comforter, and
that we might tell Him our troubles, small as well
as great; and I tried to do so, but could not put my
thoughts into words. So I said my usual prayers
and began a hymn, but my tears stopped me, and I
cried myself as quietly as I could to sleep.
I 1 -'
'. I *-'-* I *I '< - i 1 ,
''. *-' *,, -
CHAP. V.-MY MASTER.
i IIAD promised not to put off delivering that
note, and it was a comfort to have something
still to do at my lady's bidding; so the following
evening found me standing at Mrs. Howells' door,
rapping timidly with uncertain fingers. But when,
after many raps, the door remained unopened, I
remembered having gathered from my father's talk
that town houses had bells to their doors, with
handles outside by which to ring them. I therefore
looked about, and presently espying the handle,
"gave it a tug, expecting to hear the bell on the
other side. But I heard nothing, so I pulled again,
harder and harder, marvelling at its being so stiff,
until I heard hasty steps in the passage, the door
flew open, and there stood the maid with Mrs.
Howells behind her, and a girl peeping out from
the kitchen staircase, all staring at me with wide
eyes; while now that the door was open, I could
hear the treacherous bell still tinkling far below,
6S Tzurnaside Cottage.
after my violent tugs. I believe I should have
turned round and run home again, only that my
legs refused to stir.
"Good gracious, child !" exclaimed Mrs. IIowells,
" whatever is the matter with you to go and ring us
up o' that ways ? Is the whole town afire ?"
"I beg your pardon," said I, ready to sink into
the earth ; "indeed, I did not know that I was
Not know! Wherever's the child come from ?"
cried Mrs. Howells, beginning to fan herself with
her apron. Pff! there's flurried I am. Be you a
tramp ?" she added, turning again to me-"'cause
I don't- "
Please, I brought a note for Mr. Hurst," I
Oh, you did Well, given here."
Please, I was to give it to him my own self," I
persisted, holding my note fast in my hand.
What, what, what a message for me ?" said a
voice at the top of the stairs ; and looking up, I saw
a tall old gentleman, in hat and greatcoat, leaning
over. Eh, what ? she is a little girl with a note
for me, is she not ?"
"No, sir," stammered I, more and more con-
fused at this mistake, though it was not to be
wondered at ; for in order to protect myself from
MIy Master. 69
the rain, I had wrapped an old shawl round and
round me-I did not possess a greatcoat of any
kind-and I have no doubt that I must have looked
a very queer little figure indeed.
No, sir!" repeated the landlady. Why, you
said you did, only now just !"
"Yes, ma'am," I cried. I only meant-- I
did not mean- Please, sir, it's from Miss
"Ah, ah! I comprehend. lie is the little boy she
spoke of," said the old gentleman. Will he come
in, my dear ?" And, coming three steps down to
meet me on the stairs, he took the note from me,
and led the way into his sitting-room. Here he
first took off his hat and greatcoat, then tapped and
examined a slip of wood hung against the wall, the
use of which (it was a thermometer) puzzled me for
a long time after; then he put one coal on the fre,
and at last proceeded to read the note, saying to
me as he opened it, Vill he sit down ?"
I took the opportunity, while I thought I was not
noticed, to unwind myself from my big shawl, and
then hitched myself shyly against the edge of the
chair nearest to the door, and tried to recover from
the flurry into which that unfortunate bell-ringing
had thrown me as well as Mrs. Howells.
I cast stolen glances at my new master to see
70 Turnaside Collage.
what he was like. He seemed not so old as I had
thought him at first, but odd-looking, with sandy
hair and thick overhanging eyebrows, and a tall,
gaunt figure; but there was a kindly look about
the mouth that comforted me, and I drew myself
an inch further on to my chair. The room was
full of books-sober, brown-backed volumes for
the most part-some on shelves, some piled up on
tables. An open piano caught my wondering
attention for a moment, but I passed on to consider
with still more awe-struck contemplation a violin-
case, which stimulated my curiosity to no small
degree. It was a long while before I learned what
it contained, and I thought it looked so very like a
little coffin. On the walls hung three or four good
prints, and two oil-paintings. One, I decided on
further acquaintance, was a portrait of my master
in his youth ; there were the same shrewd, kindly
eyes, the same guileless smile, only all younger and
fresher. The other picture represented a sunset
landscape, with a lake and half-ruined temple. I
was wondering whether it was a picture of his
old home, and thinking how Monna would have
enjoyed such a pond in the hot weather, when Mr.
Hurst put down the letter and said, He is very
fond of Miss Churchill, is he not ?"
Oh yes, sir !" I answered, warmly.
Mly Master. 71
Ah, no wonder, no wonder. And of the lessons
that she taught him ?"
Good, good; so she says. He has brought his
book ? Good again. Will he sit at the table, and
let me hear him read ?"
His tone was so gentle, that, in spite of his odd
way of addressing me, I felt encouraged by it. I
did not read well, however; my breath failed me,
and the words would not come clear before my
eyes. Mr. Hurst took no notice of my stumbling,
but as we went on he made a few remarks, so
much to the point that I felt that I understood
what I was reading better than I had ever done
before. He did not keep me long that night, but
bade me come the next, and, indeed, every evening
that I could, adding, He will do, he will do; we
shall get on, I doubt not."
He even, after again consulting the thermometer,
put on his hat and coat, and accompanied me to the
head of the stairs. This I found to be his regular
practice whenever he left his sitting-room, which he
kept as nearly as possible to the same degree of
heat, summer and winter. I have sometimes seen
him take up his walking-stick as well, when going
across the passage to his bedroom in search of
a book ; but after a few paces he would softly
72 Turnaside Cottage.
cry, Hm, hm !" and put it back in the corner
The following evening I went again, ringing the
bell with the utmost caution this time; and all
that winter it must have been stormy weather
indeed that could keep me at home, for the twilight
hour with Mr. Hurst had come to be the brightest
bit of my day. Miss Churchill had spoken truly
when she said it was a pleasure to learn under him.
His books were his sole companions and delight,
and he loved them so dearly that one could not but
catch some of his enthusiasm. And stiff and formal
as his manner was in ordinary conversation, he
could teach and explain more clearly than anyone
I have ever met ; so it is no wonder if my lessons
came to be the grand object of my life. I learned
by heart as I dressed and undressed ; if sent on a
message, I read as I walked along; and the matters
of real life seemed to me only tiresome interruptions
to what was far more important. What was life for
but to learn in ? I think that with this there was
mingled some pride at the thought of how far I
was outstripping the boys at Mr. Tombs' school.
When they shouted after me, and called me
Mitcher, asking how much salary I got as Tom
Cad's clerk, and suchlike jokes, it pleased me to be
able to say to myself, Ah, if you knew that I am
3fy Alasctr. 73
learning Latin, while you will never get beyond
your reading and spelling Or if you knew that I
am reading a real big history of England, and
learning all about the ancient Britons, and what
Wales was like in olden times!" And these thoughts
comforted me, so that I did not care for the boys'
mockery, but felt quite kindly towards them again.
Mr. Hurst was not only a scholar, he was a good
and holy man ; and the good effect of his influence
on me is hardly to be told. I loved and honoured
him as a father; and gradually he opened his heart
to me, and received me into his confidence. He
told me about his own childhood in his far-off
Yorkshire home ; of his mother and sister; of school,
and its labours and prizes. His father he never
mentioned ; there must, I thought, have been some
disgrace attached to his name, for while Mr. Hurst
was still a boy, he had suddenly to leave school and
take to teaching-Miss Churchill and her sisters
being his first and favourite pupils. His mother
had died, he once said, of sorrow; his sister had
died too, and he could no longer bear to remain in
the old neighbourhood. Miss Churchill had heard,
through Mrs. Prickard, of a home for him in
Rhydcwm, where he would be well cared for; and
here he remained, giving lessons, indeed, to any
pupils that chose to come to him, but possessed of
74 Tzurnaside Coltage.
means enough for his own support, now that there
was no one else to provide for. The people of
Rhydcwm looked shyly, I fancy, at the new-comer,
who was himself shy; so he made few acquaintances,
and devoted his whole time to his books and
writings; for he wrote and published essays and
treatises, and occasionally poems. Very proud was
I when I saw on his table a paper or magazine in
which there was an article by himself. I could
not always understand, but I could always admire
it, and on those days I walked home very upright
indeed, feeling that not even Mr. Prickard was
equal to my master. I discovered from the
poems that my master loved birds, and bees,
and flowers, though he saw but little of such things
now; and when spring came again, I used to
bring him bunches of wild flowers, which I arranged
in a tumbler on his table. Then he would smile,
and call me by his pet name for me-Ruby.
" He is but a pale ruby," he would say, yet I would
not exchange him for all their ruddy gems." Then
my heart glowed with a love which I could not
express, and which I generally gave vent to by
learning some tremendous irregular verb, or tough
bit of grammar, to repeat to him the next time I
I forget whether it was this year or the year after
Mly Mstzer. 7 5
that I achieved the grand independence of a room
to myself. I had long wished for a room in which
I could study as I pleased, undisturbed; but I never
saw my way to it, until one day, as I was in the loft
above Monna's stall pitching down a bundle of hay
for her, it struck me how stupid I was never to have
thought of this room before. It only wanted glass
in the window, and a little patching to the roof, to
make it snug and weathertight. The floor, to be
sure, was rather uneven, but it would hold a bed-
stead and chair without their coming through ; and,
as Nance never would climb the short ladder that
formed its only approach, I should be safe enough
from interruption; in short, it was delightful. I
was so anxious for it that, instead of running open-
mouthed to my father about it, I was seized with a
fit of prudence, and waited, watching for a good
opportunity. It soon came. The weather was
warm, and my father complained of the heat and
closeness of our house at night.
"You would do better, father, if you were to get
rid of me," I said.
Ay, no doubt," returned my father, with a
queer half-smile ; "but how is that to be done ?"
Why, the hayloft would do to sleep in very
well, this weather. I should not mind it, if there
was a bit of glass in the window."
76 Tiurnaside Cottagc.
Ah, but there is not, nor likely to be."
My heart sank-" It would not take much to
glaze it," I said ; but it does not matter."
I don't know that," said my father, and walked
out of the house, and presently I heard his step in
the loft. I was afraid I should seem too anxious
about it if I followed, and nothing more was said.
The next day that he had no job on hand to call
him from home, I heard my father up there again,
hammering and sawing; and in the evening he
announced his intention of sending me to sleep
there. Nance declared that if he did, I should
soon be like a pig, for she could never get up there
to make my bed and keep me tidy. I replied that
I did not mind. I made my bed myself, as it was;
and she had often enough said she wished me out
of the way. Thereupon she called me a sauce-box,
and said I might go where I pleased, for her.
I did go where I pleased, and so mightily pleased
was I, that I could not resist calling in Tommy
to admire my new abode. He was delighted with
it, and presented me with an old packing-case
for a table, that he was sure "grandfer" would
I wish they would do the same by me," he said,
looking regretfully round the walls of my little
kingdom. But there's no chance, granny's so
M'y Master. 77
terrible fond of me. Why, you could get out. and
in as you pleased, and nobody know."
"No, I couldn't," said I; father keys the cow-
house door every night. And if I don't get up in
time in the morning, Nance raps at the house wall
till I do. And she gives me such dreadful short
little bits of candle to go to bed by, I have no chance
to sit up doing my lessons."
I don't know as I should ever count that much
privilege," laughed Tommy. I'm going to be a
soldier, so where's the good ? But I don't think
they'd take you."
Shan't ask them," said I ; but I envied Tommy
his unvarying health and strong active frame. I
seldom felt quite up to my day's work, light as that
work was; and the addition of the walk into
Rhydcwm often tired me more than I cared to
confess, lest my father should put a stop to my
beloved lessons, which he grumbled at, as it was, for
taking up my time.
My task of tending Monna was taken from me
by changes that took place in the parish. Mr.
Prickard made a great stir about the common, and
got it enclosed and parcelled out to those who had
a claim on it. People said that he took most care
of himself in the whole affair ; and there were great
growlings about it. But my master said that the
78 Tiy-naside Cottage.
land was more useful so, and he believed it was
a good thing to enclose commons now that the
population of the land was so much increased.
My father was very angry about it, and made me
miserable for a week by declaring that he should
sell Monna. He ended, however, by hiring the
field on the other side of our garden hedge, and
buying another cow to make it worth while. And
as the new cow paid proper respect to :i.!. n! i, and
always let her go through the gate first, both she
and I were well satisfied with this arrangement.
I now often had whole afternoons to spend over
my books, and my learning got on capitally. After
much entreaty on my part, I had begun Greek,
though Mr. Hurst shook his head at himself as he
gave way to my importunities. I fear," he said,
"it will do him little good, and may lead to dis
I should be much more likely to be discontented
if I might not learn it, I declared. And I would
not neglect cleaning the potatoes, or sweeping out
the yard for it; and-blushing very much-I
wanted to be a schoolmaster some day.
Nay, if that be so," said Mr. Hurst; and he
never again objected to my learning anything.
T I 4^U ---- '^'1
I MUST have been twelve or thirteen years old,
and lanky and tall for my age, when one sultry
haymaking time my father suddenly told me that
it was high time I was doing something towards
getting my bread, and that he had agreed with
Farmer Williams to take me on during the busy
haymaking season, and if I proved steady and
industrious he might perhaps keep me on as farm-
Oh! my lessons with Mr. Hurst, my hopes of
schoolmastery and scholarship--what would become
of them ? But if my fate was settled, it was
settled ; and my father's allusion to my eating the
bread of idleness made me feel too sore to make
any protest. So I only replied by a-1:i. How
soon I am to go ?"
To-morrow! Should I have time to go to Mr.
Hurst afterwards ? and if not, how could I let him
So Ttrznaside Cottage.
know ? What would he think if I neither came
nor sent ? Big boy as I was, I felt terribly inclined
to cry. For once Nance took my part. How
you do flurry a body with your sudden changes
about To-morrow, says a as if the boy wasn't
to eat another meal's meat without earning it, and
not a trousers nor a boot fit for him to go to field
in. 'Twouldn't ha' cost you much, neither, to have
said last week, like a ordinary Christian, Get the
boy ready, 'cause I'm a goin' to make a farm-lad of
him.' A fine farm-lad he looks for And who is
to carry my water, and run my errands, and fetch
the cows, and feed the pigs ; and me not so young
nor so strong as I used to be ? will you tell me that,
John Bramble ?"
I have passed my word to Simon Williams, so
it's no use talking," replied my father. And,
Reuben, you will have to be sharp to time to-
morrow, for Williams is a man who will stand no
nonsense. But mind, if any one lifts a hand against
you-either he or young Simon-let me know, and
I'll settle it with them." And my father took him-
self and his pipe off up the lane.
There was some comfort in that last speech of
his ; and I went to bed resolving to meet my new
life with as brave a heart as I could muster on the
The work assigned me was turning and spreading
the new-mown hay, and I went at it cheerily all the
morning, keeping pace with the women of the
farm-house who were at the same work, laughing
and chatting over it as if it were mere child's play.
But as the afternoon went on, my limbs dr. -. .1
more and more wearily, handling the fork became
misery to my blistered hands and aching arms, and
I perceived that my fears had been correct ; I could
not possibly go to Mr. Hurst that night-it was as
much as I could do to get home. Once there, I
refused all food except a cup of tea, and tumbled
straight to bed, to be haunted by the scent and sight
of hay every time I closed my eyes. My sleep was
broken by that uncomfortable sensation which often
comes when one is overtired-of tumbling off a
height down to nowhere, and waking up with the
shock of not touching the bottom.
I was in the hayfield again, however, the next
morning; and so was the farmer, this time, with
several other men and boys. In the course of the
morning I was put to tump" or cock the long
lines of hay, under the leadership of young Simon,
my enemy during that one day at school, and at
all times my most inveterate teaser. He was a
stout young fellow of twenty now, and pretended
to be above taking notice of me. But whenever
82 Turniaside Cottafc.
I stopped to rest a minute and draw breath, I
could see him glance scornfully at me, and I knew
he was observing me all the time, and despising me
for being so weak and girlish. This roused me,
and, collecting all my energies, I strove to shew
him that I could push together as big a tump of
hay as he, and in nearly as short a time. I saw
his look of surprise, and then he too redoubled his
efforts, and on we went madly under the burning
July sun. My head seemed about to burst, and
my arms to drop off, when a halt was called, and
the men gathered round the pitcher of beer. I
refused it, but one of the men, seeing, I suppose,
that I was fagged, followed me to the bank under
which I lay, and pressed a draught on me, assuring
me that it would set me up on my legs again. And
so it did for ten minutes or so, during which the
chase went more madly than ever, and then Simon
"Williams and his mocking smile were lost in a
tumbling mist. An odd, cold heat came over me
I was sure that he was getting ahead, and made
a wild effort to .-.1, on ; and then I fell, or rather
the ground seemed to come up to meet me; and
there was an end to my haymaking.
When I came to myself, my head and hair were
wet through, with sousings administered by the
good-natured hands of the women ; and they were
Ha.ynaking. 8 3
all gathered round me under the shade of an ash-
tree, talking. They had seen how it would be
from the first, they said ; the boy was not fit for the
work ; he was in a decline, most likely, and would
go like his mother before him. It was a share to
work the child so ; his father ought to have kiown
better than to send him out, and Simon Williams
than to employ him. Please, I'm all right now,"
I said, ii -. _1ii, to get up. But the women insisted
on my remaining quietly under the tree while they
took a turn of raking down the field and up again;
and then one of them came and offered to accom-
pany me home. I had to stop a few times on the
way, but at last she delivered me safely at our
door, together with this message, that Farmer
Williams would not want me again. I escaped
from Nance's hundred and one questions into my
loft, and to bed, where I remained the next
morning, until I wanted my breakfast so much that
I had to come down and get it. My father had
come home late, and called up to me before he
started again in the morning to ask how I was, to
which I answered, All right."
I was glad he was gone when I came down, for
I hated being seen-hated myself and everybody
else at that time, I think. I was most unreasonably
miserable, for I was vexed at the thought of being
84 Turnaside Cottage.
a farm labourer, and vexed again because I could
not be one. I should have liked to be at the same
time a Samson for strength, and a Paul for learning;
and because I was not, I sat and fretted. I could
not go to my master for a day or two, as I con-
tinued to be a good deal upset ; and here was more
cause for fretting. He would think I had forgotten
him, that I no longer cared for his lessons ; perhaps
he would take .1:; ... at my long absence, and I
should lose my best, my only friend. My father, I
was sure, despised me for being so weak and
wretched. Simon's scornful glances were fresh in
my memory; and that message from the farmer, that
he would not want me again, was fresh proof of my
uselessness. Perhaps I should fall into a decline,
as the women had said, and die an early death
That thought pleased me, the more I dwelt on it.
I imagined my father sitting by my bedside, tender
and affectionate; Nance waiting upon me, devoted
and remorseful; Tommysobbing in the doorway; my
master, who never went anywhere, walking all the
way out to Turnaside to ask after me ; and myself
bidding farewell to them all in a touching address,
with appropriate advice to each. But by-and-by
the death-bed scene began to be put a little further
off in my fancy. I had gone to my master, and
was received just as usual, and found that he had
taken for granted that I was hindered from coming
at this busy time of year. And then Tommy, cut
of whose way I had kept while my bad temper
lasted, brought me a pocketful of gooseberries
and a long Indian letter from his parents, for it
was signed by both of them, and told me that he
wanted me to help him write an answer, by-
and-by, when he had time. Razzy Evans did the
last, he said, and would not let him put in what he
wanted, but stuffed it all up with I hopes this
finds you well," and As it leaves me at present."
I thought I should like to write a letter better than
Razzy-I believed I could, too-and by way of
preparation, I -........ leave from Mr. Hurst to read
the letters of Cicero.
One hot thundery day I was lying under a hedge
with a lesson-book in my hand, but not doing
much, for my thoughts were disturbed by the
merry haymaking noise going on in a field not far
off. Presently the first cart-load passed me on its
way to the owner's haggart, and on the top stood
Tommy, glowing and glorious, every garment
thrown off that could be dispensed with, his sleeves
rolled up, and his shirt-front thrown open, balancing
himself, and shouting as they went. He caught
sight of me, and in a moment he had scrambled
down, I cannot guess how, and was by my side.
S6 Turnaside Cott0age.
Well, Reuben, how are you getting on ? here's
busy we are!" he began. "It's a race betwixt us and
the storm to save poor Simon Williams' main crop
of hay. There comes the clouds, and here goes we !"
I looked in the direction that he pointed, and
there, indeed, were the great thunderclouds gather-
ing in black array.
I run down when I hearn what a fix he was in,"
continued Tommy. He wants every hand he can
catch, and we are at it, for life. There, I must run
-it would be such a pity if he should lose all his
crop, poor fellow !"
I watched him bounding away, and it occurred to
me, What a great selfish wretch I am, to be lying
here like a log thinking of nothing but my own
concerns, while Tommy-why, I am not half as
good as he !" This was a discovery, for I believe
that in my inmost heart I had thought myself a
great deal better, and had even tried to give him a
little good advice, not long before. Tommy had
cut it short with, Now, Reuben, you shut up ; you
will do no good that way. If you wants to lead
people anywhere, go you first, and perhaps they'll
follow. But if you takes to sitting' still and preaching ,
I'm off." This had stopped me, but none the less
I had felt superior to gay, careless Tommy, until
that moment as I watched him from under the
hedge. The next moment I started up and ran
down towards the haymaking field. I slipped in
unnoticed, and from behind a hay-cock I saw that
they were indeed "working for life," pitching it
into carts, and raking after them. As I crouched
there, the farmer's wife threw aside her rake, ex-
claiming that she must needs go and milk the cows,
for they had been hollering to her this half-hour;
"but work you on, maids, for goodness sake, for
there's the thunder begun." Here was my oppor-
tunity, and taking up Mrs. Williams' rake. I took
her place among the workers. Simon Williams,
who was pitching, observed me at once, but said
nothing until his father returned with his empty
cart from the haggart ; then I saw him go up and
speak to him. The farmer called to me, and said,
" Look here, Reuben; I'm glad you are better, but
we don't want you no more--
No, sir," I said, "it is not that- I only
came- I heard you were short of hands, and
I don't think I did my day's work that day, and I
thought if I could help a bit- "
Oh, if that's it, all right," said the farmer.
"Now, pitchers !" and the work went on again.
I had a tremendous nod from Tommy when he
first caught my eye, but we were all working too
hard to spare breath for speech.
88 Turnaside Cottage.
The sun went down and the moon rose upon our
toil; but we won the day. Before we parted, the
stack was made and shaped, and the top covered
with an old tarpaulin. The farmer shouted after
me a Good night, my boy, and thank ye," that was
sweet to my cars, and I went home better pleased
with myself than I had been for many days. It
was a real satisfaction to wake in the night and
hear the rain coming down in bucketfuls, knowing
that it might do its worst now ; and from that time
I felt reconciled with my neighbours again, and
almost with myself.
But the boy must do something," said my
father; and, upon my word, Reuben, I don't see
what you are fit for, except to be a tailor."
"Oh no, father," said I, not daring to tell him
my ambition, but determined to keep time for
studying if I could ; the confinement and the late
hours would make me ill, I am sure. But I think
there is one thing that I might do."
And pray what is that ?"
Well," said I, hesitatingly, you know the
people of Rhydcwm complain that they cannot
buy fresh vegetables, and it struck me that if that
sunny slope of the field could be taken into the
garden, we might grow cabbages and lettuces and
other things, and I could look after them, you see;
and then, when you are going into Rhydcwm with
the cart, maybe you would take some in, you know,
or I would go in with a basket. What do you
"Hm I don't think you will make any hand of
it," said my father, and it will be no end of trouble
-and here's my pipe gone clean out."
I sighed, and gave up my project for lost; but
the next day I discovered that this had been my
father's way of giving his consent, for I found him
busy marking out the boundary of the part to be
dug up, and joyfully ran to help, while Nance
stood and watched our proceedings with undisguised
"A fine market gardener you will make, with
your spelling and your book-learning. Be you going
to learn gardening out of your books ?"
Yes," I answered. Books will teach one any-
"Books i\ lead you to ruin," returned Nance.
" Book-farming ends in jail, and so will your book-
gardening, mark you my words. Be you grown
too grand to fetch me a can of water fro' the well ?
I suppose I may wait upon myself, now."
I did go by book-gardening, and it did not end
in jail. Mr. Hurst interested himself greatly in my
project, of which he much approved ; and he got
9o Turnaside Cottage.
me down books and seeds, and studied ways and
times with me, and was almost as pleased as I when
my first cabbages appeared above ground. I tried
to persuade him to walk over and see my garden,
but that he would not do. He had his regular
walk-down to the post-office, and along the
Pembroke road as far as the crossways ; and nothing
would persuade him to vary it. Of course I was
too late to have any winter stock of vegetables, but
I sowed carrots, lettuces, spinach, and other crops
for the early spring, and begged cuttings of goose-
berry and currant bushes from my neighbours, who
gave them readily, looking with a half-pitying
amusement at my new occupation. Every frost
that came filled me with alarm, and when snow
once began to fall, though we had but little, I
became so desperate, that I had thoughts of going
to Mr. Prickard's gardener and asking him what
was to be done to save my seedlings. When it
came to the point, however, I did not go ; and Mr.
Hurst comforted me by the assurance that snow
formed a cover and protection from the frost.
A proud lad was I the first time that I gathered
a basketful of my vegetables, and put them into my
father's cart for him to dispose of in the town. I
followed them in fancy all day, wondering whether
people would observe their freshness, how much
they would give for them, whether all would be
sold, whether my father would bring me back all
the money, or keep a part of it as rent for the
ground-this I meant to insist that he should
do-what fresh seeds I had better send for with
the first money that came to me ; and so on, over
and over again.
As soon as I heard my father returning home
that night, I flew to meet him. Well, father ?"
He took no notice, and a feeling of shyness came
over me, and made me dumb. I helped in silence
to unharness the horse and litter him down for the
night, waiting for my father to speak. But he
seemed to have quite forgotten my vegetables, and
it was not until I was handing him his second cup
of tea that I gathered courage to say, Did you
sell all my basketful, father ?"
"Some I sold, and some I gave to a friend of
mine," he replied ; it's all gone, anyway."
Gave them away! my beautiful young plants
But I swallowed that, and continued, And how
much money-- ?"
How much Don't know. I mixed it in with
the rest; 'twas not much, that I know."
This choked me. Not a penny to come to me,
who had worked for it, and reckoned on it so
eagerly. Nay, I was not even to know how much
92 TuZrnaszie Colttae.
I had earned. I escaped from the room as soon as
I could, and went to my old refuge in my childish
troubles-Monna's stall. There, with my head on
her shoulder, I sobbed over my grievances until it
was too late to go to ',I Hurst-too late to do
anything but creep up to bed, and there indulge in
a fresh burst of sobs, until I quieted myself by a
resolution to let garden, crops, everything go, and
to stick to nothing but my learning.
But when I told Mr. Hurst something-not all-
of my disappointment, and added my resolution
about work, he was not pleased, as I fancied he
This must not be, this must not be," he said.
" Would he eat the bread of idleness when he can
help towards his own maintenance ? Mcthinks he
should be proud to know that he helps his father."
Before I left him he made me promise to work
on at the garden, giving to book-learning only the
time that I could rightly spare from my other
employment ; and when I wanted money to stock
the garden with, to tell my father so, and ask him
to give it me out of the sale of the produce.
. --: ~. ir- -
-- --"~ -
CHAP. VII.-OLD NANCE.
SOON I had little time indeed for study, and a
visit to Mr. Hurst became a rare pleasure, for
poor old Nance, who had been ailing all the winter,
failed entirely, and was obliged at last to take to
her bed. She had been grumbling for some time
past; but then she always grumbled ; so I hal paid
little heed to it, and was smitten with shame when
I perceived at last that she must have been really
suffering. The day when she failed to get up,
after going to bed immediately after tea the night
before, I attended to the animals, and tidied up the
house, and then went to ask Sally to come down.
In the course of the afternoon, Sally came and
stayed to tea, and talked much and loudly, noisily
cheering her grandmother up ; but she went away
without even washing the tea-things she had used.
While she still sat there, I went out to turn the
cows in, and I was moodily leaning against the gate-
post, when Tommy's voice accosted me.
94 Tzrnaside Cotlage.
Hullo, Reuben what's up now ? you look down
in the mouth."
Nance is ill," said I ; she has taken to her bed,
and Sally says it will be no good to call in the
doctor, he can't cure old age."
Tommy nodded. Heard that up at shop. Who
have you got to help you ?"
Nobody. Sally is in there, but- "
She wouldn't earn her living as a charwoman,"
put in Tommy. Give us hold of the pail, Reuben
I'm a stunner at milking, and all that. I'll come
down and give you a look up most evenings about
this time, till old Nance is about again, if you don't
You are a stunner for kindness, Tommy,"
Oh, it's a lark to me. Any message to Rhyd-
cwm to night ? I'm going in for granny."
I was glad to send a message to Mr. Hurst that
I cuuld not come, and Tommy promised also to go
to the club-doctor and tell him about Nance's
illness ; it could do no harm, and he can't want to
doctor me, he added, turning his merry brown face
towards me, as he set off at a trot up the lane.
The doctor sent a bottle of stuff, and the next
time he was crossing the top of the lane he came
down to Turnaside. I held his horse while he went