• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Frontispiece
 Title Page
 Preface
 Table of Contents
 Ring out, wild bells
 New Year's bells; or, the skating...
 Sunday bells; or, the two...
 Fairy bells; or, the good...
 Evening bells; or, the hop-pic...
 Wedding bells; or, the member for...
 Missionary bells; or, the siege...
 Christmas bells; or, the stolen...
 Advertising
 Back Cover
 Spine






Title: The wild bells and why they rang
CITATION PAGE TURNER PAGE IMAGE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00054754/00001
 Material Information
Title: The wild bells and why they rang
Physical Description: vi, 155, 4 p., 3 leaves of plates : ill. ; 15 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Martin, William S
Harington, C. S ( Charles Sumner ) ( Editor )
James Nisbet & Co ( Publisher )
Sanson and Co ( Printer )
Publisher: James Nisbet & Co.
Place of Publication: London
Manufacturer: Sanson and Co.
Publication Date: 1871
 Subjects
Subject: Christian life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Children -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Children's stories   ( lcsh )
Children's stories -- 1871   ( lcsh )
Publishers' catalogues -- 1871   ( rbgenr )
Prize books (Provenance) -- 1871   ( rbprov )
Bldn -- 1871
Genre: Children's stories   ( lcsh )
Publishers' catalogues   ( rbgenr )
Prize books (Provenance)   ( rbprov )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
Scotland -- Edinburgh
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by W.S. Martin ; edited by C.S. Harington.
General Note: Publisher's catalogue follows text.
Funding: Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00054754
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002233931
notis - ALH4348
oclc - 57510231

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Cover 1
        Cover 2
    Frontispiece
        Plate
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
    Preface
        Page iii
    Table of Contents
        Page iv
    Ring out, wild bells
        Page 5
        Page 6
    New Year's bells; or, the skating party
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
    Sunday bells; or, the two letters
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Plate
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
    Fairy bells; or, the good old times
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
    Evening bells; or, the hop-pickers
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Plate
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
    Wedding bells; or, the member for bartown
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
    Missionary bells; or, the siege of ake
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
    Christmas bells; or, the stolen sovereign
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
    Advertising
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Back Cover
        Cover 1
        Cover 2
    Spine
        Spine
Full Text

































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" He sprang forward, and tore madly up the lane."-Paqe 28.
[Front.
TrIE WILD BELLS.









THE WILD BELLS


AND


WHAT THEY RANG.



BY
W. S. MARTIN.



EDITED BY C. S. HARINGTON.






LONDON:
JAMES NISBET & CO., 21 BERNERS STREET.
MDCCCLXXI.














PREFACE.



SOMEBODY says that the eye sees what it
brings with it the power and the will to see.
Perhaps we hear, too, what we are minded
to hear. Still, many a good thing is lost,
not wilfully, but for want of an interpreter.
Mr. Martin has here acted as Interpreter to
the Bells. May their several tales train
many ears to listen to the voices continually
sounding from above, and inviting us onward
and upward in the paths of truth and happi-
ness.
C. S. H.



















CONTENTS.




PAGE
I. NEW YEAR'S BELLS; OR, THE SKATING PARTY 7

II. SUNDAY BELLS; OR, THE TWO LETTERS 80

III. FAIRY BELLS; OR, THE GOOD OLD TIMES 55

IV. EVENING BELLS; OR, THE HOP-PICKERS 78

V. WEDDING BELLS; OR, THE MEMBER FOR BARTOWN 102

VI. MISSIONARY BELLS; OR, THE SIEGE OF AKE 121

VII. CHRISTMAS BELLS; OR, THE STOLEN SOVEREIGN 185
















RING OUT, WILD BELLS

RnEn out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow :
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.








6 RING OUT, WILD BELLS.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
-TENNYSON.












THE WILD BELLS AND WHAT

THEY RANG.



I.

NEW YEAR'S BELLS; OR, THE SKATING PARTY.

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
"Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow :
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true."

THERE had been a very merry party all the
afternoon on the large pond in Swansted
Park. Night after night, for more than a
week, had Jack Frost been busy at work,
drawing his fairy pictures of trees and feathers
on the window-panes, and covering every







8 NEW YEAR'S BELLS; OR,

little pool and puddle with a gradually thick-
ening sheet of ice; and now, even the deepest
ponds were frozen over, and the broad canal
itself was bound down at last, while the
heavy barges, which had forced their way
along day after day, to the great disgust of
many anxious would-be skaters, were made
prisoners by the ice, and had to wait till the
"ruler of the inverted year"* should give
them their liberty again.
It was a fine time for school-boys, then, in
the middle of their Christmas holidays. No
work, no lessons, no nine o'clock bell,-no-
thing to do, in fact, on most days, at least,
except to amuse themselves, and to keep out
of mischief, and very often even that was a
difficult task. When the rain poured down
in torrents from morning till night, and the
roads and lanes were two or three inches deep
in mud, and all out- door sports were out of
the question, the time hung very heavy on
hand. One can't read a story-book all day
long, and one can't play in-doors all day long;
SHail, Winter, ruler of the inverted year.-Cowper.






THE SKATING PARTY. 9

and a little bird tells me that many a loving
mother, and gentle, affectionate sister, who
looked forward with such pleasure to seeing
Tom or Harry home for the Christmas holi-
days, have not been altogether sorry when
"Dr. Birch's pupils resume their studies,"
and certain young gentlemen, who would in-
sist upon every one in the house giving up
all their time to amuse them, when it was
too wet for them to go out, have had some-
thing better to do found for them.
But we are getting a long way from the
pond in Swansted Park. Very merry, indeed,
were the party of youngsters who were spend-
ing the afternoon there. The ice was in first-
rate order; that black, transparent ice, which
looks just like perfectly still water, and which
puzzles .any one with nails in his boots to
walk across it without falling. No need to
cut out a slide, for it was slippery enough all
over ; and no need for any sweepers to
clear the ice for skating; in fact, it would
have been difficult to find any fault at all with
it; at least that was just the opinion of the







10 NEW YEAR'S BELLS; OR,

boys when they got there. There were John
William?, and his brother Fred, and Jack
Morris, and Harry Matthews, and seven or eight
more,-most of them tolerably good skaters,
though Jack Morris was by far the best. In-
side edge, outside edge, figure 3 forwards and
backwards, and even the difficult and not
very graceful spread eagle,-he could do them
all. And when it came to fast skating, while
the others were puffing and blowing, and
swinging their arms like the sails of a wind-
mill, and kicking up their heels like young
colts, Jack would come coolly along with his
arms folded, or his hands in his pockets,
without taking his feet off the ice at all, and
quietly pass them all, looking back over his
shoulder at the foremost, and politely asking
him why he didn't come on, or whether he
was going to sleep.
This trick (not of making satirical remarks,
but of skating in this style) he had learned
from a Dutchman, and a capital style it is,
too; no flourishing of arms and legs,-which
performance does no good, but only serves to







THE SKATING PARTY. 11

tire the performer,-but a quiet, easy gliding
along, without the least apparent effort, and
a gradual increase of pace, till -. But
there, only try it for yourselves; both feet
firm on the ice, body leaning well forward,
and work along steadily, by pressing the
heels alternately into the ice with a slight
twist, and swing the body from side to side
in time; and when you've once got into the
way of it, you may give any one who goes
along "all arms and legs," as the saying is, a
good long start, and then have plenty of
breath left to laugh at him as he comes puff-
ing and blowing up to the winning-post, a
long while after you have got there.
Something must be the matter with Jack,"
said Harry Matthews to one of the other
boys, when they had been skating about half
an hour. I never saw him so grumpy be-
fore. He was all right enough when I met
him in Bilston this morning."
"I think there must," answered his friend,
who had his skates on for the first time, and
had just taken his seat on the ice for about







12 NEW YEAR'S BELLS; OR,

the twentieth time, very much against his
will. "I should think there must: he was as
savage as a bear all the way coming here;
and now he won't help a fellow a bit, though
he promised to teach me, and I keep tumbling
about all over the place. I 'm sure I've made
a dozen big stars already."
They were quite right: something was the
matter with Jack, but what that something
was none of the boys could make out, though
they had all noticed that he was ill at ease.
Usually he was one of the best-tempered boys
in the world, and no one could be more
obliging than he-always ready to do a good
turn for another, and never thinking it too
much trouble to give the beginners a wrinkle
in any of the games in which school-boys
delight, and in most of which he excelled.
But to-day nothing seemed to please him.
On their way down, when all were talking
of the beauties of a glorious piece of ice, and
a jolly afternoon's skating, he was, it is true,
now and then as loud as any one in.praise of
his favourite amusement; but suddenly he







THE SKATING PARTY. 13

would stop and turn aside frowning, and
surlily reply in monosyllables to the queries
of his companions..
It was just the same on the ice. At one
moment he was laughing and shouting with
the rest, and apparently thoroughly enjoying
the fun; the next he would leave them all to
themselves, and glide moodily round and
round in small circles on the further side of
the pond. The boys were puzzled a good
deal by his strange behaviour, but, on the
whole, they managed very well without him,
and let him have his own way, without
bothering him any more.
The longest afternoon, however, must come
to an end; and afternoons in December are
by no means the longest. So by-and-bye the
sun sank down behind the trees, and evening
began to close in. Then, after one more race
round the pond, the skates were taken off,
wiped, and strapped up, and the boys started
on their way to their respective homes; not
all of them, however. Their unsociable friend
had been growing more and more disagreeable







14 NEW YEAR'S BELLS; OR,

and moody as the time wore on, and when going
home was proposed, he only answered sulkily
that he meant to stop longer. Nobody was
very sorry, however, that afternoon, though
on any other day they would have waited
half-an-hour, sooner than have left him to
come alone; and the others started off across
the park, and up the lane, laughing and talk-
ing merrily, and wondering what could be
the matter with their companion. "Jack's
driven himself mad fagging for the mathe-
matical prize, I do believe," said Fred Wil-
liams, who was the acknowledged wit of the
party. "He can't think of anything but
cutting out the figures of the third book on
the ice. I vote for cutting Euclid altogether
in the holidays myself." Boys are rather
unfeeling, at least in a case like the present,
where they can see no cause for sympathy;
and there was a fresh shout of laughter as
one after another gave his private opinion as
to the cause of Jack's strange conduct. But
no one gave the real reason, for no one knew
it but the boy himself; and when he heard







THE SKATING PARTY. 15

their merry laughter and shouts as they
climbed over the park gate, and disappeared
in the deeply-cut lane, he felt even more-
miserable than he had been all the after-
noon.
And now I must go back a little, to explain
to you the mysterious cause of Jack Morris'
singular fit of ill-temper on the afternoon in
question. He, more, perhaps, than most of
the boys, had been looking forward with great
eagerness to the time when the ice on the
park pond should be strong enough to bear.
And several times a-day during the last
week had he carefully examined the state of
his father's registering thermometer, which
hung just outside the dining-room window,
his hopes rising and falling with every altera-
tion of the mercury. But now his hopes had
kept up, and the mercury had kept down
below freezing-point for seven or eight days
running; and when he set out that morning
to go over to the town of Bilston to get a new
heel-strap for one of his skates, he fully in-
tended visiting Swansted Park on his way







16 NEW YEAR'S BELLS; OR,

home, to see for himself whether the pond
would bear.
So he set off merrily, whistling as he trotted
along to keep himself warm, for it was a black,
biting frost, and the ground was as hard as a
rock, and rang under his feet as he kept time
to the tune. It was quite three miles into
the town, but that was not much to a strong,
active boy of about fourteen, and he was soon
at his journey's end. The required strap was
easily procured and fitted; and then, leaving
the shop, he began to turn his steps home-
wards.
Before going home, however, he had a note
which his father had told him particularly
not to forget to deliver to a gentleman living
a little way out of the town. So he was just
turning down the lane opposite the Town
Hall, when whom should he see but Harry
Matthews coming up the turning.
"Hallo, Jack! what's brought you this
way?" said his friend, shaking his hand
heartily as they met; and then, without wait-
ing for an answer, he went on: "I say, old







THE SKATING PARTY. 17

fellow, what do you say to an afternoon's
skating ?"
"That's just what I was thinking of,
Harry," replied Jack; and I'm going round
by Swansted Park on my way home, to see
if it bears."
"I can save you that trouble," rejoined
Harry, for I've just been down to see, and
it bears beautifully; I never saw better ice
in my life. I'm jolly glad I met you, for I
was thinking of trying to get some of our
fellows to go this afternoon, ard we shouldn't
have half so much fun without you. So now,
come along, and we'll soon look up a party."
Jack smiled at his friend's compliment,
and entered at once into his plan, and the
two boys started in great glee to call on all
their schoolfellows who lived in or near the
town. They had a good many calls to make;
and by the time they had completed their
arrangements, it was nearly twelve o'clock,
and Jack at last set out on his return home.
Unfortunately, however, in his excitement
Jack had entirely forgotten his father's note,
B







18 NEW YEAR'S BELLS OR,

and he walked briskly down the lane towards
home, with his mind full of the afternoon's
amusement, and the unfortunate note snugly
stowed away in his jacket pocket.
Not a thought did he give to his neglected
commission till after dinner was over, and
he was anxiously waiting with his skates
strapped up, and his gimlet stuck into a big
cork in his pocket. Of course he had bored
the holes in his boots, and fitted his skates
on before the fire in the morning, for he was
far too knowing a skater to leave all that to
be done when he got to the ice. So he had
only to wait for John and Fred Williams,
who had promised to call for him at two
o'clock.
Punctual to the minute (for boys can be
punctual when they are going out for their
own amusement, though I have known it
different at other times) came their ring at
the bell, and then, just as Jack was about to
start, his father said,-
"By the way, John," (his father always
called him John, though Jack was his name







THE SKATING PARTY. 19

with his school-fellows),-"By the way,
John, you left that note at Mr. Groom's, I
suppose ?"
Then for the first time since he met Harry
Matthews in Bilston that morning, he recol-
lected the note. Quicker than I can tell it,
a dozen different thoughts flashed through
his mind. His first impulse was to acknow-
ledge candidly that he had forgotten it, then
he thought what a bother it would be to
have to walk all the way back again to
Bilston to Mr. Groom's, while his companions
were enjoying themselves on the big pond in
Swansted Park all the afternoon. Then
Harry's words in the morning, "We shouldn't
have half so much fun without you," came
into his mind. For a moment the right and
the wrong, the true and the false, struggled
for the mastery in his heart, but the tempta-
tion was too strong for him, and after an in-
stant's hesitation, he muttered something
ending with, "All right, father," and left the
house with his companions.
Very different now were his feelings from







20 NEW YEAR'S BELLS; OR,.

what they had been ten minutes before. Try
as hard as he could to be cheerful and merry
as usual, and to think only of the fun they
were to have on Swansted Pond, the thought
would force itself upon his mind, that he
was a -, a nasty, ugly word, that had
never before been applied to him, and very
red in the face he grew, and very angry he
felt with conscience for daring to call him
such a name. But it was no use his arguing
that he had not said he left the letter, that
the letter was "all right" (in his pocket);
that he could get Harry Matthews, who lived
at Bilston, to leave it in the evening, and it
would be "all right" then; he knew he had
spoken falsely, and he knew he was acting
falsely, and I am glad to say he was not suf-
ficiently hardened yet to be able to enjoy
himself under such circumstances, though
nobody but himself knew of his fault.
This, then, was the secret of all the ill-
temper and moroseness, which had excited
so much surprise among his companions
during the afternoon.







THE SKATING PARTY. 21

Well, the evening was fast closing in when
the boys went home, leaving Jack Morris
alone in anything but his glory. It was get-
ting very dark, and the trees in the distance
looked like giant shadows. But on a large
open sheet of ice, even if there is no snow, it
does not get dark nearly so soon as it does
elsewhere; for except on a pitch-dark night,
there is almost always reflected light enough
to see to skate by. But it is dangerous work
if there are any holes, and if time and space
would admit, I could tell you an evening ad-
venture -of my own, when I was fortunately
brought to a stand-still by one of my straps
coming down, when just upon the brink of
a large hole, where the water was a dozen
feet deep, and which hole I never noticed
till after I had stopped. But we must
return to our hero, who stayed on the pond
a good while after his companions had gone,
angry with them for leaving him, and with
himself for remaining behind, and with every-
thing and everybody generally, as boys are apt
to be when theyfeel that theyhave done wrong.







22 NEW YEAR'S BELLS; OR,

At last, however, he seated himself on the
bank, and began slowly taking off his skates,
and wishing he had not got to go a couple of
miles out of his way to deliver the letter, for
he had not given it to Harry Matthews after
all, and meant to take it himself before he
went home. He didn't feel much inclined
for the walk, however, for his feet felt so
numbed and cramped from the tight strap-
ping, that they seemed as though they didn't
belong to him. But it did not matter; he
meant to go, and off he started as quickly as
he could in the direction his comrades had
taken a couple of hours before.
Now, too, as he walked up the lane to get
to the stile where the footpath led across the
corner of Bilston Common to the town, he
noticed thick, heavy-looking clouds driving
across the sky, and soon afterwards felt some-
thing cold and wet fall upon his hands and
face. Yes, there was no doubt about it, he
thought, as he turned up his jacket collar,
and then buried his hands in his pockets;-
it was snowing, and pretty fast too Thick







THE SKATING PARTY. 23

and fast the white fleecy flakes came down,
and the air grew lighter, and the trees and
hedges and fields became more clearly visible;
as they were wrapped in their white cover-
ing. Over the stile he went, however, leaving
the marks of both hands on the top bar as he
clambered over, for he knew his way to
Bilston well enough, and nothing, he thought,
should make him go home with that wretched
note still in his pocket.
Faster and faster fell the large snow-flakes,
and before he had gone very far, the foot-
path, which had been only just visible when
he started across the common, was entirely
hidden. On he pushed, nevertheless, for he
felt sure he could not miss his way, though
he knew the common stretched several miles
away to the southward, past the village where
his home was. After.a while, however, he be-
came painfully convinced that he had got off
the path, for the ground felt rough and uneven
beneath his feet, and at last, as he stumbled
along, down went his foot into a deep drain,
and he pitched head foremost into a furzebush.







24 NEW YEAR'S BELLS; OR,

Up he jumped in a minute, and as well as
his wet numbed fingers would admit, began
picking the prickles out of his hands and
face, and then was about to resume his jour-
ney. But that was much easier determined on
than done, for his tumble had so far confused
him that he had lost all idea of the direction
he had been going in, and he could not re-
press a shudder as he felt that he was lost.
It was no use peering through the gloom to
try and catch sight of the lights of the town,
for the snow fell so thickly that he could not
have seen them fifty yards off. He was more
than half inclined to cry, but he was rather
too manly for that; so he resolved to keep
on walking as nearly in a straight line as he
could, till he should get off the common on
to some road or lane, and so find his way
either to the town or to his home.
On through the wild tempestuous night he
went, while visions of his father's warm
bright fireside, and of a happy group assem-
bled round the tea-table, rose up before his
mind as if to mock his misery.







THE SKATING PARTY. 25

On through the pitiless, driving, howling
storm, with his head bent down upon his
breast, and his eyes half-shut against the
bitter wind.
On, still on, through the beating, blinding,
whirling snow, while his legs grew very weary,
and his heart grew sick and heavy, as he
struggled blindly forward across the wild
common.
More than once he was on the point of
giving up in despair, and yielding to the
almost irresistible power that for the last
half-hour had been trying to drag him down
on to the soft white snow, and urging him to
try and forget his troubles in sleep. But
manfully did he struggle on, for he knew well
enough the danger of giving way to the feel-
ing of drowsiness that oppressed him, and,
pulling his jacket tighter round him, he made
up his mind not to give up while his strength
should last. Nor were his thoughts idle
during his dreary walk. Bitterly he now re-
pented of the folly, and worse than folly,
that had been the cause of all his troubles,







26 NEW YEAR'S BELLS; OR,

and every now and then the letter in his
jacket pocket seemed to grow as heavy as
lead, and almost to weigh him down to the
earth. Then it seemed like a lump of ice
freezing his very heart; and anon it was
changed to red-hot iron, burning and scorch-
ing into his flesh, though not warming his
benumbed limbs in the least, while letters
and notes of every shape and size were danc-
ing before his half-closed eyes.
At length his strength was well-nigh ex-
hausted, and with a wild despairing cry, the
first sound he had uttered during those many
hours of misery, he was about to throw him-
self on the ground and give up all further
effort, when suddenly a weird mysterious-
looking light flashed through the gloom, and
streaming across the falling snow revealed to
his excited imagination the shape of a gigan-
tic and fantastically shifting letter.
With a loud cry of horror he staggered
.forward, his limbs trembling and his hair
standing on end with fright, and clutched
with his extended hands something hard and







THE SKATING PARTY. 27

cold. This proved to be the railings of the
village church, which stood not a quarter of
a mile from his home.
It took the terrified boy some time, how-
ever, before he found out what it was he had
got hold of, and still longer before he dis-
covered where he was. And even then,
though he was by no means a coward, he
was struck with terror by the mysterious
light, for which he could not account, and
which, streaming from a narrow window on
to the falling snow, still terrified him by its
resemblance to the unhappy note, which had
been uppermost in 'his thoughts since he set
out from home.
Summoning up all his courage, he clam-
bered over the palings, for he knew the way
home through the churchyard, and up the
lane well enough, and-advanced towards the
building, from which the singular light issued.
He had entirely forgotten that this was the
last night of the old year, nor did it once
occur to him that he had been' wandering
about from sundown till close upon midnight.







28 NEW YEAR'S BELLS; OR,

This, however, was the case, and the light he
saw shone from the lantern which the ringers,
whose duty it was to ring the Old Year out
and the New Year in, had taken with them
into the belfry. On he went, however, into
the churchyard, and just as he was passing
close by the belfry door, with a clang and a
clash and a clatter the whole peal began.
The very earth beneath his feet seemed to
tremble with the sudden shock, and the tower
itself appeared to sway to and fro, as though
it were about to fall and crush him. Deaf-
ened and almost frightened out of his wits
by the uproar, he sprang forward and tore
madly up the lane, pursued by the clang and
clamour of the bells, which seemed to shriek
and howl after him that ugly name which
his own conscience had given him earlier in
the afternoon.
Jack was a good runner, but never before
had he gone over the ground so quickly as
he did that night from the church to his
father's door. All the cunning plans which
had been floating through his mind, for pre-







THE SKATING PARTY. 29

venting his father from finding out about the
letter, had vanished now. And when his
father, who had sent out the servants in every
direction to search for him, opened the door
himself, he tore the letter out of his pocket,
and confessed the whole truth to him.
The bells had indeed rung out the false,"
and rung in the true." And as John Morris
lay awake that New-Year's morning, think-
ing over the few kind earnest words his
father had just said to him, and heard their
voices -floating so peacefully and happily
across the snow, he sought earnestly for
strength greater than his own to keep his
resolution, that neither they nor his own con-
science should ever again have to reproach
him with want of truthfulness.







r0 SUNDAY BELLS; OR,








II.

SUNDAY BELLS; OR, THE TWO LETTERS.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more ;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind."

HE was a hard, harsh man, was Mr. Hard-
wicke. That at least was the character which
all the villagers of Broxholme gave him; and
as not a few among their number were la-
bourers on his farm, and nearly all of them
had dealings with him of one sort or another,
their judgment must be allowed to carry some
weight. Not that any one could bring any
direct accusation against him, for it was a
favourite boast of his that he had never
wronged any one of a farthing, and that if he







THE TWO LETTERS. 31

promised anything his word was as good as
his bond, and that everybody knew to be
good for ten thousand pounds at the very
least. But in spite of all this, Mr. Hard-
wicke was very unpopular in and around the
village of Broxholme, and the old folks would
shake their heads as they spoke of him, and
call him a harsh, hard man.
And, after all, I cannot say but that they
were right. Earn your bread by the sweat
of your brow" was the motto he impressed
upon all in his employ, and he took good care
that they should earn it too, or else they
might go without.
No one had ever helped him up the ladder
of life, not a bit of it. He had made his
way upward by steady hard work from the
time he earned four. shillings a-week as
Farmer Wilson's plough-boy, till now, when
he could add up the amount on the right side
of his ledger, and put down the pounds total
in five figures, and had, moreover, obtained
the honour of writing J.P. after his name.
And so it was, perhaps, natural that Mr.







32 SUNDAY BELLS; OR,

Hardwicke, who was accustomed in his
magisterial capacity to sit in judgment on
scores of miserable, half-starved, ragged va-
grants who were from time to time brought
before him and charged with some real or
imaginary offence by the active and intelli-
gent officers under his sway-it was natural,
perhaps, that such a man should have very
little sympathy with poverty in any form.
Poverty, laziness, and sin, were to him
synonymous terms, and when, some eight
years before this story begins, his only
daughter left her home and was married to a
very clever and talented young artist, who
was guilty of the unpardonable offence of
being a poor man, his rage knew no bounds,
and tearing the letter containing the news
into shreds, he threw it behind the fire. It
was three or four days before he was suf-
ficiently composed to be able to write to her
on the subject; then with a hand trembling
with passion, he wrote a long string of
invectives against her undutiful conduct, and'
her husband's poverty, and ended his letter







THE TWO LETTERS. 33

with a solemn vow that come what might lie
would from that time forth cast her off for
ever, and never open another letter from her,
nor ever see either her husband or herself
again
So much for the father; and now for the
son, for Mr. Hardwicke had one son, who
was about seven years old when his sister
left her home, and little Geoffrey couldn't
quite understand what made his father so
angry whenever he asked him where Mary
had gone, and when she would come home
again.
Geoffrey at that time was very much like
what any other farmer's son might be. A
merry-hearted, curly-headed little fellow he
was, as full of fun as any one, and ready to
play at cricket, foot-ball, rounders, prisoners'
base, or any other game, with all the boys
in the parish, without making -the least dis-
tinction between rich and poor. .But that
was when his father lived at the Rabbits'
Farm, and he himself went every day with
c







34 SUNDAY BELLS; OR,

his dinner-basket on his arm to the village-
school.
But times were altered now. Mr. Hard-
wicke, like many another thrifty hard-work-
ing man, had got on in the world, and Job
Tompkins now rented the Rabbits' Farm.
As the latter soon squandered away what
little profit he made out of this badly-
cultivated land in the public-house, he seemed
scarcely likely to make any further move,
except in a downward direction. Mr. Hard-
wicke, on the contrary, only left the old farm,
on which he had worked as a ploughboy
some forty years before, to take possession of
Broxholme Hall, which, with about a thou-
sand acres of the best land in the county, had
been put up to auction on the death of the
old squire, and knocked down to him for a
good round sum of money.
SAnd a very snug little property it was too.
The hall itself, which was a large rambling
building in the Elizabethan style, stood out
boldly against the dark masses of trees that
formed the back-ground; and the extensive







THE TWO LETTERS. 35

grounds which surrounded the mansion were
very tastefully laid out and kept in first-rate
order.
Of course after this decided rise in life
Geoffrey was soon removed from the village-
school, and shortly after was sent to an ex-
pensive academy in London, and when he
came home for the holidays his former play-
mates soon discovered that the young gentle-
man no longer considered them fit companions
for himself. Like his father, Master Geoffrey
held his head considerably higher as he
walked along the village street.
Now this was so far all very well in its
way; honest industry may, and ninety-nine
times out of a hundred will raise a man in
the world; and boys whose parents are in a
tolerably good position may very properly
refrain from associating with those far be-
neath them in the social scale. And I for
one am not going to-read a long lecture on
the text, "Liberty, equality, and fraternity,"
which produced such a terrible convulsion in
society during the French Revolution. No,







36 SUNDAY BELLS; OR,

no; depend upon it, it was never intended
that all men, or boys either, should be equal
in worldly circumstances at least. But
though there always were and always will
be different grades of society in the world,
there is no need to do as Geoffrey Hardwicke
did, and that was to look down with contempt
upon all his old associates, and expect them
to submit to be ordered about and bullied by
him just as though he were their lord and
master, only because he lived in a bigger
house and wore more fashionable clothes
than they did.
He found out his mistake, however, after a
time, and rather roughly too. The midsum-
mer holidays had arrived at last, and the new
dog-cart had been driven over to the neigh-
bouring railway station by John Wellsby,
formerly a school-fellow of Geoffrey's, but
who now wore Mr. Hardwicke's new livery,
and touched his hat respectfully as Master
Geoffrey got out of the train.
Now don't run away with the idea that I
am trying to hold up Geoffrey Hardwicke as







THE TWO LETTERS. 37

an example of all that is bad. Nothing of
the kind; I was over at his house the other
day, (for he is grown up now), and I can
assure you I never wish to meet a more
genial, kind-hearted, pleasant-spoken fellow.
But at the time I am speaking of he certainly
was a little stuck-up and over-bearing in his
behaviour to his inferiors, though by no
means a badly-disposed boy at heart. And
as for the old gentleman, only find out (if
you can), the village he lives in and ask any
of the cottagers what sort of a man Mr. -
is (Hardwicke, you know, is only my name
for him), and they will give him a very
different character now from that with which
this little story begins.
But we shan't get on very quickly if we
keep running off the line in this way, so let
us try to go along a little more steadily on
our journey.
Well, I think I said it was the midsum-
mer holidays, and I need not stop to describe
the beautiful weather, or how pretty the
trees and flowers and fields looked in their







38 SUNDAY BELLS; OR,

summer costume. Everything that Nature
could do, when aided by the warm bright
sun and genial showers, had been done for the
little village of Broxholme, and you may
picture it to your minds as well as I could
describe it to you. It certainly was a very
pretty place, far away from the smoke and-
din of noisy London, and lying as it did a
mile or two off the high road, which runs
through the county, was usually one of the
quietest spots that could be found.
One fine Saturday afternoon in July, how-
ever, the green in front of the "Shepherd's
Rest" public-house presented an unusually
gay and lively appearance. It seemed as
though all the natives of Broxholme and the
surrounding villages had turned out in their
best clothes and assembled on the village
green with gaily coloured scarves and ban-
ners, and were about to take the "Shepherd's
Rest" by storm.
Strains of martial and other music were
rising and falling on the air, and it was
almost painful to see the desperate energy






THE TWO LETTERS. 39

with which some of the more ambitious per-
formers exerted themselves to get as much
noise as possible out of their instruments.
And one can scarcely wonder that after two
or three tunes the large heavy banner was
stuck up on the green, and the exhausted
musicians disappeared into the Shepherd's
Rest," for the purpose, as they would have
said, of "refreshing."
This was the "Broxholme and Clatterham
Friendly Society's" anniversary, more popu-
larly known to the natives of those two
villages, as "Club Day." A very grand day
it was too, and country folks, from far and
wide, put on their Sunday coats, and with
gaudy scarves over their shoulders, fell in in
fours behind the large blue banner which
bore, in bright crimson letters, the title of
the society, and, headed by the band, walked
in procession from the "Lamb" at Clatter-
ham to the "Shepherd's Rest at Broxholme.
Here they were to dine together, and the
afternoon was to be spent at cricket and
other manly sports.






40 SUNDAY BELLS; OR,

A very pleasing sight it was too, young
and old meeting together for what, to them,
was very important business. I don't mean
the dinner, or the cricket and other games,
but to hear the report of their secretary, and
to audit the year's accounts, and arrange for
a supply of coals, blankets, and other neces-
saries, for the coming winter.
Well, the dinner was over, and the business
matters fully discussed and settled, and then
the amusements commenced. The great
event of the day was the married and single
cricket match, which usually took place on
the village green on Club Day. Great was
the excitement among the lookers-on, when
at last the umpires had pitched the wickets
and the game was fairly commenced, and as
one after another the wickets fell, all the
other games, quoits, rounders, and leap-frog,
which had been started by the younger
members, were given up, and the borders of
the green were covered with spectators
standing, sitting, or lying on the grass, and
watching the progress of the match.







THE TWO LETTERS. 41

Such was the state of things when Geof-
frey, who had been out for a stroll with one
of his school-fellows, Frank Markham, then
staying at the Hall, came through the village.
His friend, who was a Londoner, took a lively
interest in the animated scene on the green,
and insisted on stopping to have a look,
though Geoffrey, who knew his father had
refused to give any of his men a holiday that
day without stopping their wages, would not
stop till they had reached the farther end of
the green. That was one reason at least, but
by far the most powerful one was, that he
saw among the crowd several of his old
school-fellows, and dreaded lest any of them
should speak to him while his friend was
there.
They had not stood long looking at the
cricketers, however, before a boy in a smock
frock, who was apparently about Geoffrey's
own age, got up from the grass on which he had
been lying, and took his stand right in front of
the two boys, completely hiding the wickets
from them. Just then there was a loud clap-







42 SUNDAY BELLS; OR,

ping and cheering and shouts of "Hooray,"
"Well bowled, Jack," "Send in a better," &c.
&c., proclaimed the fall of a wicket.
Geoffrey, who was a good cricketer him-
self, and who, in spite of his reluctance to
stop, had got much interested in the game,
was greatly put out at not having seen the
stumps fall, and called out in an imperious
manner to the boy who stood in his way,-
"Get out of the way, you fellow, can't
you ? You're not made of glass, stupid."
The fellow looked round on hearing this,
and Geoffrey at once recognized Tom Wil-
kins, one of his old school-fellows, and the
one of all others whom he would rather not
have met on that afternoon. Tom Wilkins,
however, recognized him directly, and without
moving an inch aside, answered with a
laugh,-
"Why, it's young Geoff. Hardwicke! you've
grown a great man all of a sudden, you have."
Then walking up to Geoffrey, and laying his
hand familiarly on his shoulder, he added,
"Tain't so long since you and me was play-







THE TWO LETTERS. 43

mates, so I ain't going' to quarrel with you;
though they say you think a precious sight
too much of yourself since you left our
school and went up to London, for all the
world as if you was a gentleman."
Red with rage grew Geoffrey as he heard
this speech, which was spoken quite loud
enough for his friend to hear, too; and,
angrily shaking off his tormentor's hand,
he blurted out,-
"What do you mean by that? I'll teach
you to be insolent to your superiors !" and
raising a little cane which he carried in his
hand, he struck his too-familiar acquaintance
smartly across the shoulders. He was about
to repeat the blow, when Tom Wilkins gave
him a vigorous blow in the eye, which made
him stagger back, and all but measure his
length upon the turf.
Of course a regular fight between the two
ensued immediately. Geoffrey got decidedly
the worst of it, and shortly after might have
been seen walking off with his friend towards
the Hall, with sundry contusions on various







44 SUNDAY BELLS; OR,

parts of his face, and plenty of dust and dirt
on his trousers and jacket.
The footman opened his eyes very wide
when he saw what a plight the young gentle-
man was in, but the latter was in no humour
to answer his "Why, what's the matter,
Master Geoffrey ? You are in a mess."
Leaving his friend Frank in the dining-room,
he went at once to lay his complaint before
his father.
Mr. Hardwicke was sitting in what he was
pleased to call his "study" (though those
who knew him best did not consider the
name very appropriate), when Geoffrey, after
knocking at the door three or four times,
entered the room, quite expecting to find it
empty, as he had got no answer to his re-
peated knocks. There sat Mr. Hardwicke,
however, in his easy-chair, but not, as he was
usually to be found at this time of the after-
noon, sitting by the open window, dozing or
reading the "Times," or otherwise making
himself comfortable. Very different was the
sight that met Geoffrey's eyes as he opened


























































"There wns his father with his head bending over the table."
Page 45.






THE TWO LETTERS. 45

the door. There was his father with his head
bending over the table, and his face buried
in his hands, in one of which he clutched a
dirty, crumpled letter; and as his son, who
thought he must be ill, went softly up to
him, and touched his arm, he started and
looked up for a moment, then again buried
his face in his hands, and moaned out the
words, "Dead! dead !"
Grief was very busy in that harsh, hard
heart, as the owner of Broxholme Hall sat
alone in the deepening twilight that summer's
evening; for Geoffrey had gone downstairs
and the servant who had gone up to see if
his master were ill, had been angrily ordered
to leave the room. Old thoughts and memo-
ries, that had been dead for years, were re-
vived now; and bitterly did they repeat over
and over again the story of what might have
been, and contrast it with what was. And
as he held that crumpled letter in his hand,
and tried in vain to spell over its short, sad
contents in the dim light, his eyes filled with
tears, and his heart swelled with sorrow.







46 SUNDAY BELLS; OR,

And no wonder he felt remorse busy in his
breast when that letter reached him, for it
contained the news of .the death of his only
daughter. Poor Mary! hers had been a hard
lot since the day she left her father's roof,
and wrote that first penitent letter, imploring
his forgiveness, and received his cruel, relent-
less answer. Day after day had her husband
struggled against the poverty that seemed to
crush out all his energies; and at last, worn
out by anxiety and repeated disappointments,
he sank into an early grave.
Then, for the first time since her father's
angry letter reached her, Mary ventured to
make an appeal to him for help. But that
letter never met his eye; for, true to his vow,
he no sooner recognized his daughter's hand-
writing on the envelope, than he threw the
unopened letter on to the fire, and never
knew how much Mary had needed his assist-
ance till now, when it was too late.
I had rather not go on with the oft-repeated
story of want, and sorrow, and suffering, or
give a detailed account of the various shifts






THE TWO LETTERS. 47

and extremities to which the poor, lonely
widow was driven, to obtain a miserable sub-
sistence. Nor will I dwell on the many
bitter tears she shed over her earthly father's
harshness and neglect, nor even on the brighter
picture of her ever-steadfast trust in that
heavenly Father, who had now .taken her
home to Himself.
The letter which Mr. Hardwicke held in his
hand was from the keeper of a cheap board-
ing-house in one of the back streets of London,
and merely announced, in badly-written and
ill-spelt words, the death of a young woman,
who, on her dying bed, had implored him to
write to Mr. Hardwicke of Broxholme Hall,
.and tell him that "Mary died forgiving her
father's cruel neglect, even as she hoped to
be forgiven."
And as the shades of evening closed around
him, and the pictures on the wall of his study
became indistinct in the increasing darkness,
the present faded away from his mind, and
the past, the long-forgotten past, rose up
before his eyes. Once more he was the hard-






48 SUNDAY BELLS; OR,

working, well-to-do farmer, never absent from
his place when the agent of the Squire, who
owned the Rabbits' Farm, held his rent-audit
at the "Shepherd's Rest." And when he
came in from the farm of an evening, and
hung up his round frock in the hall; and,.
after taking off his long, muddy gaiters, sat
down in the old arm-chair in the chimney-
corner, a little girl with flaxen ringlets would
clamber up on to his knee, and prattle in a
childish voice, to which he loved- to listen,
of all she had seen and done during the day;
and he would press her tiny face to his, and
call her his dear little Mary.
The last gleam of twilight faded from the
quiet sky, and the various objects in the
room became invisible in the darkness. Still
the father sat in his chair by the open win-
dow, gazing out vacantly into. the night, his
thoughts busy with the past.
Once more his daughter was before him in
the first blush of early womanhood, but with
a sad expression on her gentle face, that ac-
corded well with the black dress she wore, and







THE TWO LETTERS. 49

the tears that she vainly strove to keep back,
as her eyes fell upon the vacant chair by the
hearth, and his strong frame almost trembled
with emotion as he took her hand in his and
tried in broken words to comfort his mother-
less child.
All through the long, dark, silent night he
sat there by that open window, feeling neither
the weariness that wrapped the rest of the
world in slumber, nor the chill night-wind
that played around his drooping head. His
thoughts were busy now with the past, and
now with the present, and his heart was al-
most breaking with grief for those whom he
should see no more on this side of the grave;
and when the first faint streaks of dawn ap-
peared in the eastern sky,

And wildly dash'd on tower and tree
The sunbeam struck along the world,

it brought no ray of peace to his darkened
mind. Still it looked down pityingly upon
his distress and despair, while the heavy
clouds that floated across the sky seemed to
D







50 SUNDAY BELLS; OR,

frown angrily at his sternness and harshness,
which had not melted yet.
Thus rose the Sunday morning, and Mr.
Hardwicke left his study at last, and took
his usual place at the breakfast-table. Father
and son presented a very peculiar appearance
that morning. Geoffrey's face, in spite of the
application of cold steel, raw beef-stake, and
vinegar and brown paper, still bore unmis-
takeable marks of yesterday's fray, while his
father's haggard face and bloodshot eyes bore
witness to the mental agony which he had
suffered during the night.
Those who saw Mr. Hardwicke leave the
hall that morning to go for a walk, would
certainly have had some difficulty in recog-
nising him. Frank Markham had started a
few minutes before on his way to the village
church; but Geoffrey could not bear the idea
of showing his black eye to all the boys of
the parish, not a few of whom had witnessed
his discomfiture on the preceding day, and
preferred staying at home. So Mr. Hard-
wicke went alone. Could that be the







THE TWO LETTERS. 51

usually upright, resolute-looking justice of
the peace, who strode along as though the
whole parish belonged to him, and would not
bend his head to any one but the wealthiest
and most aristocratic of the neighboring
gentlemen? Yes, that is he indeed, but how
sadly altered from what he was only yester-
day, walking slowly along with his head
bowed down, and muttering to himself as he
strikes now and then savagely at the stones
which lay on the dusty road, as though they
were the heads of some poverty-stricken
mortals on whom he was venting the rage
that burned within his heart.
For the rich man's heart was more than
ever at feud with the poor now. Was it not
a poor man that had taken away his Mary
from him, and left her to perish in her
poverty? Not a word or thought of self-
reproach for his hard, cruel neglect en-
tered into his mind as he walked up the
village street, vowing the direst vengeance
against poor people in general, and cer-
tain neighbours of his in particular, who







52 SUNDAY BELLS; OR,

had in some way trespassed against his
rights.
These were the thoughts that filled his
mind as he was passing the old church. The
bells were ringing, but what was that to him ?
he had often heard the bells before, and
though sometimes of a summer's evening,
when walking in his garden or strolling round
the farm, he liked to hear their music come
floating softly across the meadows, that was
all he cared about them. A pleasant sound,
but nothing more,-nothing of the summons
they were put up there to give forth had ever
sounded in his ears, or reached his heart, and
for years he had not been inside a church.
Not for years, he thought, as he looked up
at the clock, to see what the time was,-not,
in fact, since he was a boy ;-yes, once,-and
with the thought he staggered and caught
hold of the railings, as though the memory of
that sad occasion had taken all his strength
away. Once, and only once, in thirty long
years, and then only as a matter of form, to
follow his wife to the grave.






THE TWO LETTERS. 53

The bells still pealed forth their summons
over hill and dale, as he stood hidden from
the people, who were flocking in, by some
bushes, and still clinging to the iron railings,
while the tears fell thickly from his eyes.
Still their summons sounded forth, but in
an altered tone, as though the bells were
calling to the loiterers to hasten their foot-
steps, and still he stood irresolute,-some
newly awakened power within him wrestling
with the old, bad habits of years, and trying
to force him to obey their call.
Then, as the peal ceased, and the sound
died away in long reverberations, he started,
and with slow, half-unwilling steps made his
way up .the path, and once more stood within
the old parish church. He had heard the
summons of the bells at last, and as he sat
there in the free seats among the poor, and
listened to the message that was sent to all
alike, and bowed his head before Him who
is no respecter of persons, he felt that in His
presence rich and poor are equal.
And as his thoughts, still lingering on the







54 SUNDAY BELLS.

past, brought back before his mind the forms
of those whom he had loved and lost, the
bitterness of his sorrow was past, as he too
was made partaker of that hope which was
fulfilled in them.
All his angry feud with poverty in every
form was ended now. All his vain madden-
ing grief for those who had passed away was
ended too. And in their stead his busy
active mind found a better employment day
,by day in devising various schemes for help-
ing the needy and distressed out of their
troubles, and redressing the wrongs under
which the poor too often suffer.
And soon the change was felt throughout
his native village, and both he and Geoffrey,
who followed the good example which was
set him, and gave up all his foolish overbear-
ing ways, became as much loved and re-
spected by the good folks in the neighbour-
hood as they had before been disliked and
despised.







FAIRY BELLS. 55









III.

FAIRY BELLS; OR, THE GOOD OLD TIMES.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws."

"WHAT a precious slow-coach Maxwell is.
He's always poring over some musty old
book, and never will join in any game," said
George Hinton to his companions, who were
just choosing up sides for a game at prison-
ers' base.
"Oh, he's an awful muff," replied a tall
good-looking boy, who was in the act of toss-
ing up a halfpenny for first choice; I told
you it wasn't any good trying to get him to






56 FAIRY BELLS; OR,

play. My first pick," he added, picking up
the halfpenny; "I '11 have Tom Rogers."
The sides were soon chosen, and the game
began, while Henry Maxwell remained seated
on the old seat that was fixed round the trunk
of the large oak tree, which stood in the middle
of the playground, taking not the least notice
of his merry school-fellows.
He was rather a peculiar boy, and though
the biggest boy in the school, was by no
means a general favourite. Some of the
elder boys, indeed, could recollect the time
when he was the leader in all their games,
and always ready to join in any and every
kind of fun. But that was a good long time
ago, two or three years at least, and since
then he had apparently taken a dislike to
play, and would sit for hours together read-
ing, while the rest were enjoying themselves.
And often, too, when he had nothing to read,
he would wander round and round the play-
ground with his eyes fixed on the ground,
musing and muttering to himself, to the great
perplexity and disgust of his comrades.







THE GOOD OLD TIMES. 57

The fact was, Henry Maxwell's mind had
undergone a great change in the course of the
last few years. Naturally of a rather roman-
tic turn, he had been greatly struck with
some highly-coloured accounts of the glories
of the good old times which he had met with
in a story-book which his uncle had lent him
some three years ago; and from that day to
this his chief delight was to muse over what
he had read, all of which he devoutly be-
lieved. There was to his mind something
grand and noble in everything connected
with those bygone days, when knights and
squires rode forth into the forest in quest of
adventure, braving every danger, and boldly
encountering any odds to earn for themselves
the name of heroes, and to win a smile from
some "fair ladye" on their return to their
moated castles. So fond had he become of
thinking over the bright side of the well-nigh
forgotten exploits of his favourite heroes of
romance, that he soon began to wish that he
too had lived in those times to share with
them the' danger and the glory.







58 FAIRY BELLS; OR,

Rather foolish of him, wasn't it ? But I
have known more than one romantic young
gentleman who has indulged in similar wishes,
(though he would blush to own it), to those
of our friend Henry. Those olden days,
especially if we look only at one side of the
question, certainly do possess a great charm.
People in those days seemed so free, so
generous, so gallant, so brave, so entirely
unlike ordinary commonplace folk of this
nineteenth century, that many a youth who
has not taken the trouble to look closely into
the real history of those dark ages, sighs over
what he thinks the degenerate days in which
his own lot is cast.
This was exactly the case with our friend
Henry. How was it possible that he, whose
bosom glowed with intense ardour to don his
armour, mount his richly-caparisoned steed,
and sally forth alone into the forest to
encounter with his good lance and trusty
sword "the caitiffs in yonder wood," how
could he who longed to emulate the valiant
deeds of the brave Sir Lancelot, and the other







THE GOOD OLD TIMES. 59

noble champions of the round table, stoop so
low from his fancied dignity as to play at
marbles, or hide-and-seek, or any of the
games that had such charms for his less
romantic companions?
And so day after day he nursed and
nourished his sublime ideas, and grew more
and more abstracted and absent, until at
length he came to thoroughly despise the
common-place present, and looked forward,
if he ever thought of it at all, with something
between despair and disgust to the future
that lay before him. This then was the
cause of his reserved and moody behaviour
in the play-ground, and no wonder his com-
panions, who were ready. enough to listen
when he had got any jolly good story about
knights and battles and castles to tell them,
grew tired of his continually harping upon
one theme, became disgusted with his un-
sociable behaviour, and left him to amuse
himself with his day-dreams while they
enjoyed themselves in their own way.
All this was bad enough when Henry was







60 FAIRY BELLS; OR,

at school, but after he left (he was then
about sixteen), he became intolerable. In
fact his romantic fondness for obsolete
manners and customs might almost be called
a mental disease, or a mild form of madness,
and it was quite painful to his friends to see
him moping about, and occasionally mutter-
ing to himself as he went about the town,
fancying he was some mighty hero of olden
time, and making neat speeches to some
imaginary vassals, beginning, "Villains, for-
bear"--.
And then when he began as such boys are
sure to do, to dabble in politics, and without
understanding a word of the subject, to stand
up bravely whenever any one would listen
to him for all kinds of old abuses, simply
because they had the charm of antiquity to
recommend them, it was really ridiculous.
Fortunately, however, he had very few
listeners; the subject was too dry for boys
to care about, and when he was in the
company of grown-up men, and ventured
any remarks upon "protection versus free-







THE GOOD OLD TIMES. 61

trade," "the divine right of kings," or any
other subject which he had heard mentioned
in conversation, or met with in the news-
paper, his ignorance of the merits of the case
soon made him the laughing-stock of the
party. So before he had been long away
from school he was obliged to seek solace in
long solitary walks, during which he was at
liberty to indulge in his day-dreams without
interruption.
One of his favourite places for spending a
summer's afternoon was among the ruins of
an old abbey, which stood in the meadows
by the river's side a few miles distant from
his home. Here, surrounded by the moulder-
ing ivy-clad walls, which had never been
desecrated by any matter-of-fact nineteenth-
century tenant, he would stop for hours
picturing to himself the lofty abbey as it
stood (according to the local guide-book), in
the year 1101, when Sir Roger de Bazelle,
its founder, "walked nine times around the
outer wall bare-f6oted before he entered the
sacred edifice."







62 FAIRY BELLS; OR,

He had been, as usual, indulging his fancy
among the ruins one very hot day in August,
when, in spite of the efforts he made to resist
it, a feeling of drowsiness came over him, and
at length he fell asleep. Now, it so happened
that he had been first sitting, then lying, and
was now sleeping on the soft, dry turf that
covered the ground within the abbey walls;
and it happened, too, that he had chosen the
place for his repose exactly in the centre of
one of the dark-green "fairy rings," of which
there were several in the abbey meadows. It
would, I am sure, have been no use telling
him then that those rings of darker grass are
simply caused by funguses,-one fungus shed-
ding its seeds in a circle around itself, from
which others spring, and, in turn, shed their
seeds in the form of a ring. None of those,
however, on the inner side ever spring up,
from certain natural causes, and thus, year
after year, the circle increases in size, and
still preserves the same shape. But this is a
modern, scientific, matter-of-fact reason; and
I am sure our hero would have borne me out






THE GOOD OLD TIMES. 63

in still clinging to the old-fashioned name of
fairy rings, and to the belief that obtained
credence in the good old times of fairy revels
held within the charmed circle. This, then,
will perhaps account for what followed.
No sooner had Henry closed his eyes, than
he was conscious of a low, rustling sound
"that sometimes murmured overhead, and
sometimes underground," while low, sweet
music floated in the air around him. Then,
as the sounds drew nearer, and became more
distinct, he saw that the grass on every side
of him was swarming with tiny figures of
men, some dressed in the glittering steel
armour of his favourite knights, and some in
the doublet and hose which he had seen in
pictures of wealthy burgesses in olden times.
Besides these, there were many whose costume
resembled that worn in the present day,
miniature coats, and waistcoats, and trousers,
with gloves, umbrellas, and tall hats,-every
variety of attire, in fact, that was to be seen
daily in the streets, had its counterpart among
his little visitors. And .there were others,






64 FAIRY BELLS; OR,

too, mingled among the motley throng, whose
dress was "different from either,-a kind of
well-fitting, comfortable costume, such as he
had never seen before, either in real life or in
pictures.
On they came, closing around him on every
side, springing out from the crevices' in the
old, crumbling walls, or dropping down lightly
from the ivy that covered the ruins, while
fresh swarms arose from the ground by means
of several holes in the turf, which before he
had taken to be rabbit-holes.
So this is the amiable youth who is always
moping about our territory, is it ?" said one,
who seemed to be the leader of the band, as
he stepped within the magic circle. This is
the interesting individual who is so remark-
ably fond of talking about things he doesn't
understand, and sighing over the departure
of the good old days, of which he knows no-
thing."
Then, brandishing his bulrush-wand, he
motioned to the other fairies to form in a
circle around our prostrate hero, while he






THE GOOD OLD TIMES. 65

himself clambered up, and took his stand
upon his chest, and continued:-
"What does he deserve, my merry com-
rades ? what punishment shall be his who
trespasses so often upon our domain, and
mutters his nonsense within our hearing,
and now has the audacity to choose his
sleeping-place even here, within our magic
circle 1"
Then, as he stamped his tiny foot in anger,
Henry felt as though a heavy weight was
pressing upon his chest, and he heard a chorus
of tiny voices, some suggesting one form of
punishment, some another. Try as hard as
he might, however, the boy could not utter a
word in self-defence, nor could he move a
limb; so there was nothing for it but to let
his pigmy foes do with him as they pleased.
It was impossible to make out exactly what
was to be his fate, as nearly all the fairies.
were speaking at once; but he saw clearly
enough that all those in military costume
were crowding to the front, and brandishing
their rush-spears and grass-blade swords, as
E







66 FAIRY BELLS; O1,

though only awaiting the signal from their
leader to commence the attack.
Then, again, the leader flourished his bul-
rush-wand. In an instant the clamour ceased,
and there was a breathless silence as he spoke
again :-
"It is a foolish youth, my comrades; it is
a singularly foolish youth, and doubtless de-
serves our wrath. He has done no honour
to the Past:" here he bowed deprecatingly to
those whose costumes told of by-gone times;
"no honour in longing for its return, with all
its vices, and follies, and ignorance.
"He has done foul injustice to the Present;"
here he bowed politely towards that part of
his audience who were dressed in the fashion
of the day; "foul injustice in refusing to
believe in the progress that has been made
in arts and sciences, in refinement and morals,
and in speaking of the present as a degenerate
age, forgetting that there are now as many
heroes, though of a different stamp, as ever
there were in the by-gone days of chivalry.
"He has done dishonour and grievous







THE GOOD OLD TIMES. 67

wrong to the Future;" here there was a re-
spectful inclination towards those whose
singular garb had attracted Henry's atten-
tion; grievous wrong in turning his thoughts
backwards instead of forwards, and vainly
regretting the past, instead of looking forward
hopefully and trustfully to the future.
"He has, indeed, done all this, and yet I
yield him not at once without a further trial
to your just vengeance. It may be that his
folly arises only from ignorance; and I have
therefore decided that you, ye champions of
the Past-you, ye representatives of the Pre-
sent,-and you, ye spirits of the Future, shall
each in turn strive to give him a clearer in-
sight into the true history of the times which
you are here to represent, and then we will
hear his judgment, and either party who feels
aggrieved by it shall have full liberty to do
with him as ye please."
Here the speaker ceased, and a low mur-
mur of applause broke from the surrounding
throng. Then there was a stir among the
multitude, and in an instant all had van-







68 FAIRY BELLS; OR,

ished except those whom he had first noticed,
and whose dress and appearance showed that
they belonged to ages long gone by, and the
master of the ceremonies, who still kept his
place upon our hero's breast.
First there passed before the sleeper's
eyes a gorgeous cavalcade of gallant knights
and stately dames, whose rich apparel glit-
Stered in the morning sun. The lists were
set, and while the ladies took their places on
the decorated seats around the arena, the
tournament began. Fiercely the valiant
champions strove, and deadly was the con-
flict until, when the trumpets sounded a
truce, the ground was covered with the dead
and dying, while the air resounded with
mourning and lamentations for the slain.
Next he saw the roughly-made huts of a
Saxon village, and listened with amazement
to the bitter angry words of the oppressed
serfs, as they groaned beneath the yoke of
their Norman masters. Yet another view of
by-gone times was granted him, but of a later
date than the foregoing. It was the time of







THE GOOD OLD TIMES. 69

the great civil war; and there, upon the
plain before him, raged a deadly struggle be-
tween the two great armies for the master-
ship of their common fatherland. There
were the cavaliers, with their gaily nodding
plumes, and the Roundheads, in their solid
heavy armour, each animated with the blind
fury of party spirit, and forgetting in their
rage the common bond of brotherhood that
should have bound them each to each. Then,
as the scene of bloodshed faded from his
horror-stricken sight, he caught a glimpse of
many an English home, the dwelling-place of
one or other of the combatants, and saw with
pity the misery these sad dissensions had
caused, while in the distance rose the smoke
and glare of burning cities, and the shrieks
and wails of the houseless fugitives sounded
mournfully in his ears.
The scene was changed, and London, in all
its wealth and magnificence, lay spread out
before his eyes. No scene of olden times was
this, but the very London of the present day,
with all its pride and glory, its refinement







70 FAIRY BELLS; OR,

and luxury, ay, and with all its misery and
sin. And as he looked upon the varied
scene, he saw much that he had never cared
before to think of. In the daily life and
energy of the busy city, the improved man-
ners and morals of its inhabitants, and the
purer laws for the protection of life and pro-
perty, and the suppression of vice and crime,
he saw much to admire and to be thankful
for. But, mingled with these, he found
poverty and misery and sin still raging, and
his heart felt heavy at the sight. Then as
the moving panorama melted into air before
him, and he lay wondering what answer
he should make when called to give his
judgment upon what had been shown him,
he began to see more clearly the folly of his
former thoughts. He had seen enough of
the past to know that with all the high
courage and chivalry which he so much ad-
mired, there had been but too much of
misery and sorrow, ignorance, oppression, and
wrong-doing, for him to be justified in sigh-
ing any longer for its return. And he had






THE GOOD OLD TIMES. 71

learned too to find in the present much to
make him thankful for our nineteenth cen-
tury blessings, much too, to admire and
respect. And with it all he had seen much
that yet needs to be cleansed and purified,
and he began already to long for a purer,
nobler state of things, such as perchance
the future yet may show, and to feel the
duty laid upon him to try and bring it
about.
As these thoughts passed through his
mind the fairy leader stepped off from his
chest, and he felt his heart grow lighter, and
breathed more freely as he saw him once
more wave his magic wand.
A change, yet not a change. Old familiar
scenes and places which he knew full well
were now before him; just as he saw them
in his every-day life, but 'apart from the
slight difference in the costume of the people
there was something, he knew not what, that
showed him that he was looking forward into
the times that are yet to be. Was it the
happy, peaceful, contented expression upon







72 FAIRY BELLS; OR,

the countenances of all who passed before
him ? Was it the apparent absence of all
the poverty, misery, and sin that he was
accustomed to meet with in his wanderings
through the streets of his -native town ? He
knew not what to think, but only looked on
with astonishment at the wondrous change
that had come over all. Then, for he seemed
able to read the very deepest secrets of the
hearts of those whose actions he was watch-
ing, he noted with amazement the pure and
holy motives that influenced every action of
their lives; he saw their high resolves, their
pure unselfish love, and above all their deep
and heart-felt veneration for, and willing
obedience to, the pure and holy laws of God.
And as he gazed and wondered, he felt, for
the first time in. his life, a hopeful trust in
the future that lay before him, and strained
his eyes to see if among the multitude of
happy faces that passed before him, he might
recognize his own.
This scene, too, faded slowly from his sight;
but he felt that he had seen enough, and no







THE GOOD OLD TIMES. 73

longer doubted what answer he should give
when he should be called upon to speak.
His admiration for all that is great and noble
in the Past was moderated, but not gone.
His thankfulness for the many improvements
in the Present was awakened, but mingled
with an intense longing to join the ranks of
those who, instead of simply mourning over
the ignorance and sin of the times, are ready
with heart and hand to struggle against the
evil that surrounds them, looking forward
hopefully and prayerfully to a brighter Future,
and endeavouring to the utmost of their
power to leave the world better than they
found it.
But his trance was not quite ended yet.
Forth stepped the leader of the band, and
with a flourish of his wand called up before
Henry's wondering eyes a figure more beau-
tiful than any he had before seen. It was
the figure of a female, dressed in long flowing
white robes, in whose face a queen-like ma-
jesty was mingled with a saintly benevo-
lence, and who held in her hand an olive







74 FAIRY BELLS; OR,

branch, while on her shoulder sat a dove.
Reverently bowing almost to the ground be-
fore her, the fairy captain broke the silence-
"Spirit of Peace and Love and Joy, I have
ventured to summon you from the realms of
happiness in which you reign supreme, to
beg that you will deign to show to this mor-
tal, before whose eyes have passed the Past,
the Present, and the Future, the cause of the
wondrous difference between them, which
even his dull comprehension can scarcely
have failed to notice."
Then, as the beauteous being opened her
lips to reply, Henry listened with rapt atten-
tion, but the only sound that he could hear
was a soft sweet melody, as of bells pealing
far away in the distance, and with the sound
he started up.
The setting sun was slowly sinking behind
a bank of golden clouds, and the long sha-
dows from the ivy-covered abbey walls were
stretching far across the meadow. Henry
sat up and rubbed his eyes, as he stretched
his benumbed limbs, wondering what could.







THE GOOD OLD TIMES. 75

have become of the fairies who had showed
him so much. But no; there was not one
to be seen-all had vanished; and as he
thought of the lovely spirit of Peace, and
wondered what answer she would have given
to the request of the fairy-leader, he heard
still the sound that had awakened him from
what he now rightly conjectured was but a
dream. Yes, the music of the village bells
was floating on the evening air, and theirs
was the peaceful melody

"that peal'd
From knoll to knoll, where, couched at ease,
The white kine glimmer'd, and the trees
Laid their dark arms about the field."

But it was gradually getting darker and
darker, and he was a good distance from
home, so he got up from the grass, and step-
ping out of the fairy-ring, turned his steps
homeward. His mind was naturally full of
the wonderful events of the afternoon, for he
hardly liked to think of it as only a dream,
and over and over again did he wish that the







76 FAIRY BELLS; OR,

good spirit had stayed long enough to tell
him the mysterious cause of the wonderful
changes that had taken place since the good
old times, and of those still greater changes
which were yet to come. And as he walked
quickly along, still speculating as to what
that cause could be, he heard the distant
chimes still floating on the evening air, and
sounding so much like the melody that broke
upon his ear when he was listening for the
happy spirit's answer, that in an instant it
flashed across his mind that in that very
sound must be the reply he sought !
Boldly did he follow out the thought that
this idea suggested. Dream or no dream, he
had learned a useful lesson, and as he mused
upon all that he had seen, he became con-
vinced that it was to the sweet gentle in-
fluence of the bells, or rather to the glad
summons that it is theirs to give out, and to
the glad tidings to which they call all men
to listen, that the social and moral improve-
ment of mankind is due. And looking on-
ward to the future, when eager willing hearts







THE GOOD OLD TIMES. 77

shall gladly obey their call, and be led by
their summons into His house "whose ways
are ways of pleasantness, and all His paths
are peace," and thence go forth refreshed, to
serve Him in His world, he ceased to won-
der at the "sweeter manners, purer laws,
and nobler modes of life" which he had seen
in his vision of the Future.
How Henry Maxwell fared along his home-
ward way, and how-his friends soon noticed
and rejoiced in his altered character, I must
not stop to tell. It will be enough to say
that his Fairy Dream was never forgotten,
and that while he still found pleasure in
thinking of the Past, he learned to be thank-
ful for and contented with the Present, and
ever keeping a bright and happy Future be-
fore his eyes, he no longer sighed for the
return of the good old times, but endeavoured
earnestly and prayerfully to do his part in
the great work of hastening forward the Good
time corning.







78 EVENING BELLS; OR,







IV.

EVENING BELLS; OR, THE HOP-PICKERS.

"Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in."

YES, he was very miserable, very miserable
indeed, as he crouched against the half-opened
door of one of the large public-houses in
Shoreditch, and tried to shelter himself in
the doorway from the cold, drizzling rain,
which made the broad deserted pavement
shine in the glare of the large flaring gas-
lamp that hung over the door. And when
he moved' aside, as two rough-looking men
came staggering 'out, and went reeling down
the street towards their homes, the light from






THE HOP-PICKERS. 79

the bright lamp fell full upon him, and re-
vealed a thin, pale face, and tattered, muddy
clothes. Even the two city clerks, who had
been kept rather later than usual in the
office, and had missed the last omnibus,
looked half-pityingly, half-contemptuously
at him from under their umbrellas, and
shrugging up their shoulders, muttered,
"Poor little fellow!" as, wrapping their
warm great-coats tighter around them, they
hurried on to get to their own warm fire-
sides.
A little help is worth a world of pity is
a very true saying, and though little Bill was
not scholar enough to use those words, he
knew well enough that he would a good deal
rather one of the gentlemen should have put
his hand in his pocket and given him a
penny, than that they should have merely
pitied him, and then passed on, leaving him
as hungry and as miserable as he was before.
The echoes of their footsteps on the pave-
ment died away in the distance, the loud
voices of the two drunken men who had






80 EVENING BELLS; OE,

passed just before could no longer be heard,
and the long, cold, dirty street was silent.
Not a sound could be heard as he resumed
his old place in the doorway, to wait for
"Uncle Joe," who had just gone in to get
half-a-pint of beer, but the rattling of glasses
and pewter-pots, with now and then the
click of the beer-engine, and the chink of
money being swept into the till.
He was a pale, sickly old-fashioned-looking
boy, was Bill. He never had any other name
that he knew of, except it was "Mealy,"
which the boys in the court he lived in used
to call him (probably on.account of his pale,
sicldy face). A tattered, unhealthy-looking
child he was, about ten years old, he didn't
know within a year or two, and keeping a
birthday was a thing he had never even
heard of. Where he came from, or who his
parents were, nobody had ever told him, and
his earliest recollections were of crawling
about half the day in the gutter that ran
through "our court," and sometimes having
a bit of bread given him, which only partially







THE HOP-PICKERS. 81

satisfied the gnawing hunger, which had been
his constant companion every day from that
time until now.
Then, he remembered, as he grew older,
Uncle Joe told him one day he was to go
with him and the "barrer," and to look out
that he didn't break any of the chaney," or,
he added, "he'd break every bone in his
body for him." And so day after day the
little fellow had to trot along by the side of
his uncle's barrow, and hand him up the
crockery ware which he wanted to exhibit to
an admiring public, as he stood on the end
of the ricketty barrow, and exerted all his
eloquence to induce his audience to buy.
Joe Munham could, I daresay, have told
more about Bill's parentage if he had chosen,
but as he didn't choose to disclose what he
knew, I shall keep to my own opinion,
that the boy was the 'son of Joe's brother,
Bill Munham, who, about four years ago,
had been captured by the police, just as
he had knocked down and half killed an
old gentleman, returning home from an.
F






82 EVENING BELLS; OR,

evening party, and was at the time of our
story undergoing his sentence of ten years'
penal servitude for robbery with violence.
"Want, and care, and sin" were the little
fellow's constant companions, and hard in-
deed was the life he led, as day after day he
had to force his weary little legs to keep up
with his uncle on his rounds, and night after
night had to wait outside to watch the bar-
row, while his uncle went first into one
public-house, and then into another, on their
way home.
Want and care and sin were indeed the
characteristics of all who lived in Eldon's
Rents, or our court," as they called it, and
it would have been as much as any respect-
ably-dressed man's life was worth to venture
alone into its dingy recesses. Even the
zealous city missionary, who boldly faced all
obstacles to carry the blessed message he,
bore into the very foulest haunts of vice and
misery, was more than once in danger of
his life when the idea got abroad that perhaps
after all he was only a policeman in disguise.







THE HOP-PICKERS. 83

Want and care and sin,-not a pleasant
trio to talk about, and still more unpleasant
to experience,though, I fear, there are many
men, and boys too, who would shudder at
the mere hearing of one out of many true
stories I could tell of the two former, but
who forget that nine times out of ten they
are but the natural consequences of sin,
which, alas, does not in itself seem half so
terrible in our eyes as does its punishment.
But we are leaving little Bill a long while
outside the public-house door; and a good
long time he had to stop there too, for his uncle
had got talking to some men,-costermongers
like himself,-who were drinking inside when
he went in, and never gave a thought to his
little shivering nephew, who, after waiting pa-
tiently outside in the rain as long as he could
stand, had at last sunk down on the wet,
muddy pavement, and was resting his weary,
little head on the threshold of the door.
Catch me stopping about here any longer!
I'11 go," called out Joe Munham at last, as
he opened the door; and then looking down







84 EVENING BELLS; OR,

upon Bill, he went on, "Now, young 'un, look
alive Why, the young'un's gone to sleep !" -
he added, shaking Bill's arm roughly. But
Bill had not gone to sleep, for he had heard
all that his uncle said, it was only the cold
and wet and weariness that had benumbed
his limbs as he lay on the stones. Knowing,
however, by sorrowful experience how soon
his uncle's small stock of patience would be
exhausted, and his surly words be exchanged
for more unkind kicks and blows, the little
fellow made a great effort, and getting up,
without a word of complaint, followed him
down the silent deserted street and up the
court where their so-called home was.
As the little boy laid his weary limbs
down on the heap of dirty straw and rags in
the corner of their only room that night, his
uncle's words, which he had only half heard
as he was sitting on the public-house door-
step, I'11 go," seemed still to ring in his ears.
Go! where was he going? he thought to
himself as he lay watching his uncle, who
sat smoking his pipe on the other side of the







THE HOP-PICKERS. 85

room. And his heart sank, as he thought
the words must have been in answer to an
invitation to join in some robbery. More
than once Joe Munham had been out'all
night with a dark lantern, and some skeleton
keys in his pockets, and had returned in the
early morning with a large bundle under his
arm, which soon found its way to the old
Jew's house at the other end of the court.
He fell asleep at- last, however, and was
too much tired out with his long day's walk-
ing to dream about anything, but slept calmly
on till he was awakened by his uncle calling
out, "Come, get up, you lazy young rascal,
and don't be snoring there all day, we're off
soon." Then as Bill got up and began to
busy himself lighting a fire, the mysterious
words were explained by his uncle's telling
him that they were not going out with the
barrow to-day, for he had made up his mind
to tramp down into Kent or Sussex with
some mates of his, and get a job at hop-
picking.
The whole of the furniture of the room






86 EVENING BELLS; OB,

consisted of an old table and two broken
chairs; and these, with a battered saucepan
and a roasting-fork, were soon disposed of,
the whole property realizing about five shil-
lings. The remainder of the crockery-ware
and the barrow were also quickly converted
into money, and then the two set out to-
gether.
It was a beautiful morning late in August,
and the sun was shining brightly as they
turned out of the dark, dirty court into the
broad road, and though it was still early, the
streets were full of busy people hurrying to
and fro. Elbowing his way through the
crowd, and taking no notice of Bill, who had
to keep up the best way he could, Joe pushed
rapidly on past the railway station and along
Bishopsgate Street, while the little boy was
wondering all the while where they could be
going, and trying to make out in-his mind
what hop-picking could be.
After going quickly along for some time
they stopped at a public-house, where Joe got
a pint of porter, a little drop of which he gave







THE HOP-PICKERS. 87

to Bill. Here they were joined by two men,
who were the mates Joe had spoken off in
the morning, and on they all went together,
right over London Bridge, and down the
Borough, and past what seemed endless rows
of houses, till at last they began to catch'
glimpses here and there of fields and trees,
and the boy almost forgot his weariness as
he thought he was really getting out of
London and into the country for the first
time in his life.
It was noon, however, before' they were
really quite clear of the houses, and then
Bill could contain himself no longer, when
he saw the tall green trees and hedges, and
the fields stretching away on both sides of
the road, and, pulling his uncle's sleeve, he
said eagerly,-
"I say, Uncle Joe, ain't, this a fine place !
Is this hop-picking ?"
"No, stoopid;" answered his uncle with
a grin; "hops is things wot you pull off
long sticks; you'll see soon enough when
we gets a job." For, truth to say, the man






88 EVENING BELLS OR,

knew'very little about country-life himself,
and would have been puzzled to tell his
nephew what a hop was like.
On they tramped along the dusty road,
for all traces of last night's rain had dis-
appeared by this time, and Bill was very
glad when they got over a gate into a
field, and sat down on the grass to rest a
little while, and the men produced some
bread and cheese, which they had bought at
the last shop they passed. But though none
of the men hurried themselves over their
meal, and stopped so long afterwards talking
and smoking their pipes, that Bill had a
good half hour's sleep on the short dry grass,
before two o'clock they were on the move
again, and, in spite of the novelty of his
situation, and the intense delight he took in
looking at the various objects of interest they
passed on their way, his poor little legs ached
with weariness long before their day's march
came to an end, and he coiled himself up to
sleep on the clean dry straw in an old barn,
which they took possession of for the night.







.THE HOP-PICKERS. 89

The morning sun shone brightly on the
clock-tower that stands in the market-place
of the world-famous little town of Epsom, as
they passed through it on the next day; and
beautiful indeed to the little boy, who had
been shut up all his life in a close court in
London, appeared the view from the Downs
by which they passed on their way to
Leatherhead, thence pushing along the high-
road into the good old town of Dorking.
No hop-gardens, however, were seen that
day, and many a weary mile Bill trudged
manfully over, till towards evening on the
following day one of the men, who had once
been hop-picking before, called out joyfully,
"Them's hops !" and looking in the direction
in which he pointed, his companions saw in
the distance a beautiful garden of hops, the
graceful tendrils of which were gently sway-
ing to and fro as the evening breeze swept
over them.
They had not, however, ended their journey
yet, for the first two or three farmers they
applied to for a job had engaged plenty of







90 EVENING BELLS; OR,

hands for the season; and when at last they
did get the promise of a job, the hops were
not quite ready to pick yet, and they had
two or three days to wait before their work
began.
There are few prettier sights to be seen in
the country than a hop-garden just ready for
picking; and when the picking has fairly
commenced it is, I think, one of the most
picturesque of rural scenes. The tall hops,
with their beautiful vine-like leaves, covered
with clusters of graceful flowers, which look
like bunches of pale green grapes-the open
spaces where the poles have been cleared
away-and long rows of bins erected, where
men, women, and children are busily engaged
from morning till night plucking the fragrant
hops from the bine, which is laid pole and all
across the bin,-form a busy picture, which
when once seen is not easily forgotten. Hop-
picking is not only very easy work, but very
healthy too, and it is nothing uncommon for
people in quite a respectable position in life,
far above the rank of labourers, to take a







THE HOP-PICKERS. 91

bin," as it is technically called; and ladies
and children, dressed for the occasion in old
dresses and with broad-brimmed straw hats
to keep off the sun, talk and laugh merrily as
they pick away day after day in the bright
autumn weather.
One thing is very certain, and that is, that
there is no work like hop-picking to give one
an appetite, and this little Bill found out,
before he had been at it long. Bread and
cheese, or whatever his uncle chose to give
him, nothing came amiss to him; everything
disappeared with astonishing rapidity, and,
like Oliver Twist, he was always asking for
more. Right glad was he then when, on the
third evening after they began work, his
uncle produced a couple of fowls, and set
him to work to pluck them, while he himself
set about picking up some sticks to make a
fire on the ground in the old ruined cow-
shed, in which they had taken up their
quarters.
The fowls were plucked, and cooked, and
eaten; and then, when his uncle, who had







92 EVENING BELLS; OR,

told him to be very careful and keep all the
feathers together, began to dig a hole to bury
them in the ground at the back of the shed,
Bill began to suspect that all was not right.
Nor was it long before his suspicions were
confirmed. The very next day; when all were
busy in the hop-garden, the village constable
came into their midst, and at once singled out
his Uncle Joe as the man who had been con-
cerned, with two others not in custody, in
robbing farmer Walker's hen-roost just before
sunrise the morning before. As Bill looked
up with, terror when he heard this charge
made,.he involuntarily turned his eyes to the
next row of bins, at one of which his uncle's
two mates had been at work; and as both of
them were absent from their places on that
day, he guessed pretty well who the two not
in custody were.
It was no use Joe Munham's protesting that
he had never been near the hen-roost, that
he didn't know where it was, and even that
he hadn't seen a fowl for a week -or more.
-The officer was well used to such protesta-







THE HOP-PICKERS. 93

tions, and walked him off to the lock-up in
the neighboring village, leaving the poor
boy leaning upon the hop-bin almost in
tears.
He did not stop there very long, however,
before the farmer who owned the garden
came up; and, learning from his foreman,
who was busy keeping the pickers supplied
with poles, what had occurred, came up
directly to the bin where he was, and, after
measuring out the hops that were in it, paid
him the twopence a bushel, which was the
price he was paying that year, and angrily
ordered him to leave the place, and never to
show his face on his farm again.
Dreary, indeed, was the prospect that lay
before the friendless boy, as he stood on the
hard, high road, with only fourteenpence
in his pocket (there were seven bushels of
hops in the bin when he wds turned out of
the garden), uncertain which way he should
go, or what he should do. It was no use, he
knew, trying to find out where his uncle
had been taken, for his experience when in







94 EVENING BELLS; OR,

London had taught him that when "a cove
was nabbed for prigging" (that was the only
expression he knew for the little transaction
that had taken place), there was but a very
small chance of his being at liberty for some
few months, at least.
When I said the prospect before him was
dreary, I meant, of course, his look-out for
the future, and not the actual prospect that
lay before his eyes. For as he stood there,
trying to make up his mind what he should
do, his eyes rested on one of the most beauti-
ful -views in the whole county of Sussex.
Far away for miles and miles, over meadows
and fields, orchards and hop-gardens, woods
and forests, all smiling in the rays of the
declining sun, spread the rich valley, while
the blue, misty-looking hills in the distance
bounded the view. And as he stood there,
with his eyes filled with tears, and his spirits
weighed down with a load of care, and want,
and sorrow, almost too heavy for so young a
heart to bear, the sweet voices of the evening
bells came floating [up the valley from the






THE HOP-PICKERS. 95

distant town, and seemed to soothe him,
though he knew not why.
I wish I could say that the little houseless,
deserted boy sought for help from Him who
is the father of the fatherless in his distress.
But, unfortunately, he had been brought up
in the midst of so much ignorance and sin,
that he had never even heard that there was
a God, nor had his little knees ever bent in
prayer. In fact, he did not know what prayer
was; and though, as yet, he had never actu-
ally stolen anything, he had but a very dim
and vague idea of right and wrong, though
he had a great wish to earn his own living,
and to avoid any of those encounters with
the police, which were the constant terror of
all his acquaintances in "our court," as he
still called it.
SSo, at last, as he heard the bells still send-
ing forth their peaceful voices, he resolved to
push on towards the town from which their
music sounded, and which he could just see
on the slope of a distant hill.
It was a long, long walk for the lonely






96 EVENING BELLS; OR,

child, who was already tired with standing
at the hop-bin all day; but on he trudged
manfully.
The evening was fast closing in, and he
felt tired and foot-sore long before he could
see anything of the houses of the town; and
as he could not read a single letter, it was
no use his looking at the great white mile-
stones, or he might have seen, To H- 4
miles, To H- 3 miles, To H-- 2 miles,
as he passed them one after another, wonder-
ing what they were stuck up by the road-
side for. So on he walked, expecting every
minute to reach his journey's end, until the
darkness closed around him, and his courage
gave way, as he heard no longer the music of
the bells which had hitherto cheered him on
his way. At length, thoroughly wearied out,
he threw himself down on the grass by the
roadside, and soon forgot all his troubles in
sleep.
"Hoy, my lad, what be you a-doing here ?"
was the first sound that woke Bill from his
slumbers; and, looking up half-frightened at




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