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A BIT OF FUN.
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A BIT OF FUN.
H, mother," cried Ned Anderson, the stationer's
son, rushing into the little parlour behind the
shop--"oh, mother, here's such jolly news!
Cousin Edmond's come home, and Uncle
James has written to ask me to go to the farm
for a fortnight when the grammar-school holidays begin, and
that's next Monday, you know. Oh, can I go, mother? Do
you think father will let me?"
"Ask and see, Teddy," said his mother, with a smile,
looking at his excited face. I have no objection to your
going; indeed, I shall be very glad for you to get a little
"Where is father?" cried the boy. "He's not in the
No, he has gone up to the station to book a parcel for
London. Suppose you go and meet him, as you seem in
such a hurry."
"Oh, yes; and we can see about the trains; hurrah !" and
the happy boy rushed out through the shop, nearly upsetting
an old gentleman who was coming in at the door.
Why, Anderson, what's the matter?" cried the gentle-
man, who was the head master of Bishton grammar-school.
" Is it a cricket-match that you are off to, eh ?"
Oh, I beg your pardon, sir !" cried Ned, making his best
bow; "I didn't see you, I'm sure."
"No, no, I know that," answered the master, good-
hum ouredly. I wont keep you, my boy-I suppose you're
after some fun : so run along."
Off darted Edward, and was fortunate enough to find his
4 A Bit of Fun.
father still at the station. He soon told his story, and obtained
the permission he desired. All the way home he was
chattering to his father, asking questions about the farm ; for
though Uncle James, Mr. Anderson's brother, had often been
to Bishton, Ned had never yet been to stay with him at
Then he tried to remember what his cousin Edmond was
like, and wondered whether he should know him again when
he saw him. Edmond was fifteen, four years older than Ned,
so that, altogether, his little cousin was inclined to consider
him as quite a great personage.
I daresay Edmond finds it rather dull, without any big
boy," he said to his father. Little James is such a baby,
you know, only seven years old: I am afraid he will be
rather in our way."
"Why?" asked Mr. Anderson, quietly.
"Oh, those little boys, you know, are so troublesome,
father," answered Ned, colouring, for he saw his father was
smiling at his reckoning himself a big boy." "'They always
want something done for them, or they meddle with one's
things, or cry if one speaks to them, or tries to have any fun,
Little children are such a plague !"
I hope Edmond wont think so," answered his father,
quietly. "But now, Ned, I want to say one word to you.
Don't you be playing any of your tricks upon little James, or
any one else either. Do try whilst you are away not to let
your love of 'a bit of fun,' as you call it, lead you into any
mischief, or unkindness."
I'll try, father," said Ned. But do you know, it seems
as if I couldn't help it. When any plan comes into my head,
of playing a trick, I mean, or anything like that, I never
think about its being mischievous, or naughty. I'm often
sorry afterwards, father, but then it's too late."
"Never too late to mend," answered Mr. Anderson.
"You must try again and again. There is no harm in your
high spirits if you check them at proper times, but I am sure
you feel they often lead you to tease your little sisters and
brothers, and vex your mother and myself. You don't mean
to do so, but, as you say, you can't help it, unless you keep
a watch over yourself, and think of other people's feelings
as well as your own."
A Bit of Fun. 5
"I'll try, indeed, father," said Ned: and he did at the
moment intend to try.
Before seven o'clock on the Monday he was comfortably
seated in his uncle's large old-fashioned kitchen, with a meat
pie before him, to which, I need not say, he did full justice.
He had plenty to do that night in answering all his uncle's
questions and describing his journey. Indeed, his little
tongue went so fast that his uncle laughingly said he thought
it would do instead of a rattle to frighten away the crows, if
only Ned would be so obliging as to stand in the corn-field
Ted was awakened next morning by the merry shouts of
little James, beneath his bedroom window. "Get up,"
shouted the little fellow. "Come, Edmond, the haymakers
have all been at work ever so long !"
The boys were soon dressed, and out of doors. Everything
at the farm was quite new to Ted, and he soon shook off the
shy feeling which had crept over him on waking in a strange
place, and was full of eager inquiries about everything he saw.
The boys got on very well together, so that when in the
afternoon Mr. Anderson called Edmond to walk down to the
post, and whilst giving him a letter to be stamped, asked,
"How do you like Teddy?" the answer was, "Oh, very
much, father : he seems a jolly little fellow, and full of fun."
Edmond was not pleased, however, when on coming into
the orchard half-an-hour later, he heard little James's voice
in piteous tones, imploring, "Oh, don't, Ted don't please
let me come down. I'm so frightened !" And following the
sound he discovered the poor little fellow perched up in an
apple-tree sitting on a large forked branch, and Ted standing
below, in fits of laughter.
Doesn't he look absurd, Edmond," he began, but he was
interrupted by his cousin's angry question-" How can you
tease so, Ted I am quite ashamed of you bullying the poor
little fellow. Sit still, James, and I'll get you down." And
Edmond raised the ladder which was lying at the foot of the
tree, leaned it against the branch, and soon his little brother
reached the ground in safety, and scampered off, evidently
thinking that the further he was from Ted the better.
I never thought you were a bully," said Edmond, reproach-
fully, to his cousin.
6 A Bit of Fun.
"A bully," repeated Ted, getting very red; "I'm not a
bully, and you've no right to say so. I didn't put him up
there, the ladder was leaning against the bough, and he
climbed up, and I thought it would be a good bit of fun to
see what he would say if I knocked the ladder down. He
looked so absurd with his short little legs dangling down, I
really couldn't help it."
"Well, I don't see any fun in teasing a little child," replied
Edmond, and you'd better not try it on again, I can tell
you. You wouldn't like tricks of that kind played on you, I
I'm sure I shouldn't mind," returned Ted. "There was
"'He might have fallen down, and broken his leg."
No, he mightn't, if he held on to the bough."
But suppose he didn't?"
Well," answered Ted, angrily, he would have deserved
to break his leg if he had been such a little donkey as to let
go. I never knew such a fellow as you are, Edmond," he
went on. It didn't hurt him, I tell you!"
Edmond shrugged his shoulders, turned on his heel, and
went away, leaving Ted very discontented and angry, not
only with his cousins but himself. Of course he had not
been in earnest when he tried to defend his teasing tricks, but
he was one of those boys who do not like to confess when
they are in the wrong. So he stayed in the orchard by him-
self for some time, and then went into the garden hoping that
Edmond would be there, and would talk to him as if nothing
had happened. But he could not find him anywhere, nor
did he see him all the afternoon, till just before tea-time the
two brothers came in together, and James began telling his
father what "a jolly swing Edmond had given him."
"And have you been swinging too, Teddy?" asked Uncle
No, uncle," answered Ted.
"You don't take care enough of your cousin, Edmond,"
said Mr. Anderson. "Take him out after tea, and give him
a swing too, if he likes it. You shouldn't leave him to him-
'Ted wondered whether Edmond would refuse, and was
very much relieved when, after tea, he called out, Now,
A Bit of Fun. 7
Ted, if you want a swing, come on." And the two boys
rushed off together.
It was a capital swing, certainly. It was fixed between
two elm trees at the back of the house, and a rope was
fastened to it by which it was pulled backwards and forwards.
Ted enjoyed it very much, though he certainly did feel a little
nervous when he went up high, for he was not accustomed to
the motion of a swing. Edmond was in very high spirits,
and laughed so much that he could hardly pull the rope;
and there was a mischievous twinkle in his eye which would
have puzzled Teddy, could he have seen it.
SWhat is the joke, Edmond ?" he asked at last.
"Oh, only something funny I was thinking of," answered
But please, I think-not quite so high, please. Let me
get out now, and swing you. I don't care to swing any
more," cried Ted, who was, to tell the truth, feeling a little
frightened at the great height to which he rose in the air.
But Edmond, instead of stopping, pulled the rope back-
wards and forwards two or three times more, and then running
back with it in his hands as far as he could, so that the swing
was pulled high up in the air, he fastened the end round a
"Oh, do let it go," cried Ted, "I shall be quite giddy;-
I say, Edmond, don't !"
"Oh, but it's such a bit of fun," cried his cousin, mis-
chievously. "You can't think how absurd you look, with
your little legs dangling in the air. And, you know, there's no
"Oh, Edmond, don't, please. I really shall fall, and it's
such a dreadful height! Do let me down."
"Oh, you can't fall you know, if you hold on. And if
you're such a little donkey as to let go, why, you deserve to
break your leg." And Edmond burst into a fit of laughter.
Poor Ted was in despair. Surely his cousin didn't mean
to leave him there. He began to feel quite sick, and hardly
dared to look down at the ground, for fear he should let go
the rope and fall.
I'll never tease James again," he said. "Only do let
me down, please." And Edmond, who was a kind-hearted
boy, unwound the rope, and down came the swing again.
8 A Bit of Fun.
"There, old fellow, what is your opinion of beingstuck up
in the air, and unable to get down, eh A 'fine bit of fun,'
isn't it !" cried Edmond.
"It wasn't to me, though I dare say it was to you,"
answered Ted, good-humouredly, and feeling thoroughly
sorry for the fright he had given littleJames.
"Then next time you're going to play a trick on any one,
just think whether you should like to have it played on your-
self, and if you feel that you wouldn't, give it up. And now
let's have a game in the hay-field."
Perhaps you think that Ted was cured of his tricks by the
lesson which his cousin gave him, but I am sorry to say that
such was not the case. He did check himself, certainly,
once or twice, when he was just going to play one of his mad
pranks on little James, but in two or three days he had
forgotten all his resolutions, and was as wild as ever.
One day when he was walking through the corn-fields with
Edmond, he met Tom Edwards, the milkman's son, looking
very smart and spruce in a new suit of clothes.
Hallo, Tom," cried Edmond, "how is it you're so spicy,
"Mother's just got the money out of the clothing-club,"
answered the boy, with a broad grin on his face, as he
surveyed his new suit. "She bought the jacket and waistcoat,
and father, he gave me the trowsers : and I bought the cap
myself," he added, displaying a new cloth cap. It's rather
a change from the old one, ain't it, Master Edmond ?"
"Well, it is an improvement, certainly," broke in Ned, who
remembered the tattered straw hat in which he had seen Tom
the week before. "And what have you done with the old
one? Pitched it into the river, or made a bonfire of it, or
"I put it on the old scarecrow," answered the boy,
hardly liking the disrespectful way in which Ted spoke of his
"On the scarecrow in the big corn-field? and a capital
place for it, too I shall certainly go and see how he looks
in it!" laughed Edmond. "But where are you off to,
I'm going to see if the Menagerie has come. Don't you
know there's some wild beastes coming to Clayton Down?
A Bit of Fun. 9
A Bengal tiger, and some monkeys, and lions, and an
elephant. Surely you'll be for going to see it, too?"
"Oh yes, yes," shouted Ted. "Oh, Edmond, let's ask
Uncle James about it. Oh, I never saw any wild beasts. I
do so want to see a real tiger."
Well, we'll tell my father about it," answered Edmond.
"And you'll let us know when you come up with the milk
to-night, Tom, whether they're come, and what one has to
pay, and all about it."
"All right, Master Edmond."
Ted was in a great state of excitement all the way home,
S and as his uncle was out, he could not find any way of
amusing himself but roaming about in the hay-fields with
Caesar, the great sheep-dog, and telling James all about the
wonderful things he expected to see at the wild beast show.
Presently he heard a cry, and looking round, he saw a
little girl, about five years old, running away from Caesar,
who was chasing her in play.
Oh it'll eat me," she cried.
"You'd better take care," said Ted, gravely. "You know
those black bears are very dangerous animals Run, run, as
quick as you can." And, under pretence of trying to drive
the animal away, he shouted and ran after it, till Cesar was
"Oh, don't frighten her so," cried little James. "She
really is frightened. Look how white her face is !"
"Oh, bother," cried Ted, as he recollected himself,
"have I been bullying again. What a brute I am, to
be sure !"
I should think you were," cried a rough-headed big boy,
who jumped over the stile at that moment. "I wish I could pay
you out, my fine fellow for frightening my little sister in that
way. Shame on you, I say !" And he came up to Ted,
with his fist clenched, and very probably would have knocked
him down, if his little sister had not called out in fresh terror,
as Casar again ran up to her, "Oh, Johnnie, do take me
home, do take me home !"
It was curious to see the change in the rough boy's manner
as he stooped down, and took the little girl in his arms.
Poor little Annie," he said, don'tee be afraid. It's only
a dog, see!" And the child, reassured, looked up into his
io A Bit of Fun.
face, saying, "Good Johnnie kind Johnnie !" and stroked
his face with her little soft hands.
"But as for you, sir," added Johnnie, "I'll pay you out
yet, if I get a chance, you coward !" And he stepped over the
stile, still carrying little Annie, and was soon out of sight.
Ted's cheek burnt. "Coward," he repeated to himself.
" No one ever called me a coward before. Dear me what
troubles I do get into, just from loving a bit of fun. But of
course it is cowardly to frighten little babies like that. Only
I didn't mean it. There I go again. Didn't mean it? I never
do mean it, and yet I am always doing it." And he walked
home thoroughly dissatisfied with himself.
But all his grave thoughts vanished when he saw Tom
Edwards standing talking to his uncle at the kitchen door.
"Oh, uncle," he cried, darting forward, "what about the
wild beasts-may we go? oh, do say we may.
"If you like, my boy," answered his uncle, kindly. I am
glad the show should have come just while you are with us.
You shall go to-morrow, if you like."
"Oh, how jolly, Edmond, do you hear? We can go to-
"'Yes, you can go in the cart I am going to send for coals,
and then James wont be tired, and will be able to manage
the walk back." Ted danced about with glee. "Are you
going, Tom ?" he asked the milkboy.
"Yes, father has promised to spare me for awhile," he
"Oh, that's why you bought your new clothes so soon, I
suppose, to show yourself off to the nobility and gentry at
Clayton Down But don't go yet, Tom, I want you to tell
me all you know about the wild beasts."
I can't wait," said the boy. I've got to go to the Rectory
with milk, and up to Springwood."
"Then you'll pass your friend the scarecrow," said Ted,
who was in a teasing humour. "I declare I'll go with you,
and see how he looks." I say, he thought to himself with a
chuckle, what a rare bit of fun it would be if I could make
Tom and the scarecrow change hats! How astonished Tom
would be if to-morrow morning he found his new cap on the
pole. But how shall I get it? Well, I'll see if I can't
manage it, somehow.
A Bit of Fun. 1
Full of his new plan, Ted accompanied Tom Edwards
across the fields to the Rectory, talking all the way about the
wild beasts. His companion, however, was not able to tell
him much. He had only seen the bill up in the streets which
advertised the show, and the caravans drawn up near the
market-place. They passed the scarecrow, and stood laugh-
ing for some time at its absurd appearance. An old coat of
one of the farm labourers, stuck on a pole, formed the body,
and the empty sleeves, stretched out over a cross stick, looked
really like arms. On the top of the pole was Tom's despised
hat, which certainly was more fit for the scarecrow than for
any human being.
At the end of the next field the two boys parted. Tom went
onwith his milk, and Ted stood watching him, leaning against
the stile, and wondering how he could manage the trick his
mind 3as set on. Poor Tom soon gave him an opportunity.
Trudging along with his cans, he saw at the top of the hedge
by which he was walking a magnificent bunch of nuts. He
could not reach them from where he was, so putting down
his cans and his beloved new cap, he tried to get through the
hedge to the other side. But it was too thick. I must get
those nuts," thought Tom; "it wont take a minute to run
down to the gate at the corner, and get over." And he ran
off, quite unconscious of the eyes that were watching him and
twinkling with delight. He got his nuts, but when he came
back to his cans, his cap was gone I
"Whatever has become of it?" thought the poor boy.
"There was no one in the field, and I am almost sure I laid
it down just on this bit of moss. It must have fallen into the
hedge ;" and poor Tom spent aweary ten minutes in hunting
for it, till hearing the church clock strike six, he remembered
what a scolding he should get from the cook at the Rectory
for being late with the milk, and was obliged to give up the
hunt. I must e'en go and get the horrid old thing that I
put on the scarecrow, and come back and look for this by
and by," he said to himself. "What a vexatious thing it is !"
Ted, who was crouching down in the large corn-field hidden
from sight by a tree, could hardly help shouting with laughter,
when he saw his victim, with hasty steps, rush up to the
scarecrow, and after looking at his battered old straw hat
with contempt and disgust, take it from the top of the pole
i2 A Bit of Fun.
and place it on his own head. As soon as Tom Edwards
was again out of sight, the mischievous boy came from his
hiding-place and fixed the new cloth cap firmly above the
old ragged coat. Now you look more like a gentleman,"
he said, and then scampered back to the farm, full of glee
at having been able to carry out his joke.
The next morning, Tom Edwards, coming up to the farm
through the corn-fields and thinking of his lost treasure, could
hardly believe his eyes when he came to the scarecrow.
There had been a heavy shower in the night, and the old
coat was dripping wet ; but, was it possible Was that his
new cap ? He quickly pulled it down to see. Yes, there was
the mark Hewitt, Maker," inside. Tom would have been
the first to laugh at the trick if it had done no harm to his
precious cap, but alas all the gloss of the new cloth was
gone. It was battered out of shape from the violence of the
rain, and no more looked new,'or even neat.
"I see it all," cried Tom, at last. "It's that young
nephew of Mr. Anderson's who's done it What a shame !
I declare lhe shall pay me, that he shall !" and with an angry
face, he hastened on to the farm.
He was much vexed to hear that Ted had already started
to go to Clayton Down, and expressed his annoyance so
loudly that Mr. Anderson, who was standing by, came up and
asked what was the matter. Tom soon told his tale, and his
master, who at first did not see why Ted should be accused,
looked grave, though he was inwardly rather amused by the
part the old scarecrow played in the story. '' I will see about
it, Tom," he said; of course, if my nephew has had anything
to do with it, he must take the consequences, and buy you a
new cap." And with that Tom was forced to be content for
the present, though he thought to himself that if he chanced
to meet Master Ted at Clayton Down that afternoon, he
would give him a piece of his mind.
Edmond, James, and Ted had a very pleasant day at
Clayton Down. They spent the morning in seeing the wild
beasts, and then went to have dinner with an old aunt, who
was very pleased to see Ted, who had been quite a little baby
the last time she had visited his parents. "And now my
dears," she said, you must stay with me all the afternoon;
is there anything you would like to do particularly?"
A Bit of Fun. 13
"Oh, I should so like to see the animals fed," cried Ted,
"they're to be fed at six, and any one can go in then for
But," said Edmond, "father said I mustn't keep James
out late. We ought to be home by six, and it's a good mile
and a half."
"Well," said the kind aunt, "if you must go, Edmond,
Ted might wait to see them, and come later. Your father
wouldn't mind that, would he?"
I don't know," answered Edmond ; he only spoke about
James, but I should think Ted had better come home with
But Ted-begged so hard that it was settled he should stop
to see the animals fed, and then go home by himself. He
was sure he knew the way, and was quite indignant at
Edmond's doubting it. So after amusing themselves with
their aunt's little dog Fido, and her old white cat, and making
a very good early tea, Edmond and James set off home, and
Ted, when he had talked a little longer, and told everything
he could about his father and mother, and brothers and
sisters, and his home, and how he got on at school, went to
the menagerie, with his threepence in one pocket, and a bright
new shilling which his aunt had given him also, in the
He was very much interested in seeing his favourite the
Bengal tiger fed, and in hearing the keeper tell how once a
tiger of the same sort, belonging to another caravan, had got
loose, and rushed into a quiet village, terrifying all the in-
habitants, and nearly killing a boy who came in its way.
"He must have been killed," said the keeper, "if a farmer
had not come by with a loaded gun, and shot the animal
through the head." Ted looked at the fierce creature behind
the bars, and trembled as he thought, "What a dreadful
thing it would be if this tiger was to get out !" He was so
much occupied with this thought, that he did not notice two
boys standing near him, nor hear them whispering together,
but I will tell you what they were saying.
I say," whispered the biggest, who was no other than
John Jones. "I say, Tom, do you see that boy there?"
And he pointed to Ted.
"See him? yes and I know him too. Rather too well, I
14 A Bit of Fun.
can tell you. The mischievous young scamp! A nice trick
he played me yesterday." And Tom told the story of his
Well, it is a shame," cried John, "that it is; he ought
to be well punished, if it was only for that. But I have a
score to pay off too. He frightened my poor little sister
Annie so, with that great dog of Mr. Anderson's, telling her
that it was a bear, that she kept waking up crying all through
the night. I should like to frighten him, and see how he
would like it !"
"He looks frightened now," said Tom. I suppose he's
afraid of the tiger's getting out at him. Oh, I have it I
say." And he began whispering to John.
Poor Ted you little thought what a fright was in store
It took a long time to feed the wild beasts, and there was
such a crowd that Ted could not get away directly afterwards,
so that it was getting dusk when he left Clayton Down, and
turned off the turnpike road into the field path leading to
Cowdale. It was rather a lonely path, and he hurried along
as fast as he could, hoping to be home before dark. As he
was getting over the first stile, something knocked his cap off
his head. He was stooping to look for it, when suddenly, a
little way off, he heard a low long roar. He stood for a
moment as if rooted to the ground, every limb trembling, then
as he heard it repeated, he fled across the field as fast as
his legs would carry him.
"It's the Bengal tiger !" he thought. "And there's no
house near; no chance of meeting any one Oh, I must be
killed, I must be killed I shall never see my mother again!"
And in that moment of terror, the question flashed across
his mind. If I am killed, what then am I ready to die?"
On he fled, not daring to look behind him, tumbling over
the stiles and gates, rushing through the fields, till his breath
came short and thick, and his knees began to give way.
And still, every now and then he heard the fierce roar behind,
and the sound of feet coming after him. The poor boy
was almost exhausted, but still he hastened on, as if he had
wings. "I can't keepup much longer," he felt; "I can
hardly see my way now. If my foot slips, I fall." The
thought was too horrible.
A Bit of Fun. 1.
But just at that moment, as he was clambering over a fence,
his foot did slip, and down he went. He heard the roar
close at hand, he could hear a heavy breathing behind him,
and he gave himself up for lost. When, oh joy he heard
a loud, cheerful voice crying, "Ted Ted !" and he saw a
figure coming towards him with a lanthorn. It was Uncle
James coming to meet him, but oh what could he do !
How could he save him! He pulled himself up, and fell
into his uncle's arms.
Uncle, uncle," he gasped, "the tiger !"
"What," cried his uncle, horrified-" what is it ?" And
listening he heard, sure enough, the same low roar that had
terrified his little nephew.
But this time it was followed by a loud rough burst of
"Oh! my," cried a voice, which Ted recognised-" oh,
wasn't it a good run? Well, I can't run no more, I'm dead
beat, I declare. Didn't he go at a splitting pace? Oh, my,
what a joke !"
But Johni's mirth was soon stopped. Uncle James sprang
over the stile, and grasping him by the arm, demanded, in no
gentle tone, what he had been about, accompanying the
question with a shake which showed he was not in a mood to
be trifled with.
"We did it to pay him out," answered John, surlily. It
was no worse than what he did to my little sister. He wont
be up to those tricks again, I expect."
"What do you mean ?" demanded Mr. Anderson.
When he had heard John's tale, he gave him, as you may
suppose, a severe lecture, though, I am sorry to say, the only
answer the boy made, as he turned sulkily away, was, Well,
I did no worse than your own nephew, I'm sure."
Uncle James then turned to Ted, but seeing that he was
in no state to walk, he lifted the trembling child in his arms,
and carried him home, where he was soon put to bed.
He did not recover from the fright for some days ; indeed
the doctor who came to see him said it was fortunate the
shock had had no worse effect. But it had one good effect,
which lasted all Ted's life. It completely cured him of his
old habit of playing tricks regardless of other people's feelings.
Edmond was very angry indeed with John Jones and Tom
j6 A Bit of Fun.
Edwards, and declared he would give them both a sound
thrashing, but Ted begged that they might not be punished.
"It was very wrong and cruel of them," said his uncle;
"but they have not been taught as you have, and though
they meant, as they said to pay you out,' they had no idea
what agony they were really causing."
"No, I am sure of that," said Ted; "they did not know
how dreadful it was, any more than I did when I teased little
Exactly so, my boy, and this will, I am sure, be a useful
lesson to you. If you keep in mind the love which our
Blessed Saviour tries to teach to us all by his example; if
you guide your conduct by his words, 'Whatsoever you would
that men should do to you, do ye so to them ;" if you strive
really to love your neighbour as yourself, you will never again
be in danger of acting unkindly to others through your love
of 'A BIT OF FUN.' "