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0 A A CHMBEPS -
" I HAVE told you twenty times, Isabella, of that
ugly habit of 'yours," said Aunt Tart to her
niece. Why do you not speak out ? What
can you possibly have to say to Clementine that
all the world may not hear ? And even if you
had that great ambition of all young ladies to
disclose-a real secret'-it is not polite to
whisper in company."
Isabella and Clementine looked what their
brother called goosish," and made no answer.
Their brother-a large, awkward boy-who,
with both his elbows on the table, and his red
fingers wandering over his forehead, pretended,
or, as children call it, made believe," to look
at a map, withdrew his hands, and after giving
two or three preliminary kicks to the chair on
which he was seated, said, Girls have always
secrets about nothing, Aunt Tart; they aint
"I wish, Edward, you would not use those
2 THE WHISPERER.
vulgar abbreviations," said Aunt Tart. I as-
sure you these 'aints,' and don'tts' and' won'ts'
sound very underbred ; and, what is of even more
consequence, they are bad English."
Lah, Aunt, you are such a one! The ho-
nourable Dick Dovecot, and Jack Lawless, and
the very best fellows on our form, are up to that
sort of thing. They aint- But indeed I do
beg your pardon, aunt. I don't- There, I'm
at it again, and I did not intend it Dear aunt,
I have made you look as if you were drinking
Oh, Edward, for shame !" said Isabella.
But aunt says I must always speak the
truth," said Edward; and she did look"-
Hush !" whispered Clementine.
Speak on, and speak out," observed their
aunt, who, though she did often look much an-
noyed at what people, more accustomed to be
troubled by children than she was, would cer-
tainly call little things," was one of the
kindest-hearted women in the world. Speak
on, and speak out, Edward; your doing so
troubles me less than your sisters' whis-
Edward cast a triumphant glance towards his
sisters. Well, then, aunt, you aint- I mean
Nor to girls either," murmured Clementine.
And so I think," continued Edward, I
must be a greater trouble to you, dear aunt,
THE WHISPERER. 8
than I should be to any other body-I mean
lady-who had run neck-and-neck with boys-
I mean who had been used to be tormented by
us all her life-long."
Very likely," was his aunt's quiet reply.
And indeed, aunt, I am sorry for it ; every-
body knows that, thanks to you, I have more
tin to sport-I beg your pardon, aunt, I mean
more money to spend-than any of the other
lads; and I am sure I thrashed Joe Finch,
though he is so much bigger and stronger than
I am, because he said you were an old maid."
That was only the truth, Edward, and no
wrong to say it," said Aunt Tart; and I am
sorry you thrashed,' as you call it."
Why, I did thrash him, and no mistake,"
repeated the incorrigible Edward-who certainly
was more extensively read in slang than in
Homer. And as to being sorry about whop-
ping a fellow-I mean a schoolfellow, aunt-
why, I should be set down as a muff if I didn't,
Is there no language you can speak as cor-
rectly as fluently ?" inquired Miss Tart.
I'm booked if I know, aunt !" replied the
youth, really distressed at the annoyance he
gave his aunt, and yet hardly knowing how to
give his thoughts utterance in pure gentlemanly
English. I have worked at the languages;
but they floor me so! There, aunt, the girls
are whispering again!" he added, not sorry to
4 THE WHISPERER.
direct into a new channel the displeasure that
was gathering against him.
Indeed, aunty," whined Isabel, we were
talking no harm: it was nothing-only about
snipping the ribbon you know, instead of its
being drawn into rosettes-nothing else indeed,
dear aunt; and Clem. said she liked it snipped
Your sister's name is Clementine, my dear;
and certainly Isabella and Clementine are more
lady-like names than Clem.' and 'Bell.'"
Miss Tart's spirits were worn out; she dearly
loved her sister's three orphan children-the
children of her sister Mrs Villiers: she was
tremblingly alive to their defects, which, though
really disagreeable, her affection magnified; and
she deeply felt the responsibility of her situation
as the guardian of those children. She was a
lady of the old school," which, however clever,
and brilliant, and off-hand" the new may be,
had certainly the advantage of better manners,
better English, and more graceful deportment.
She had in her youth mingled with the highest
and purest society: she was refined without the
affectation of refinement; but she had lived thirty
years in retirement, and heard only of the revo-
lutions of empires beside the banks of the beau-
tiful river which meandered round her cottage
in North Wales, and never thought they could
affect the manners of society. Circumstances
which have nothing to do with this particular
THE WHISPERER. 5
portion of her life had estranged her sister from
her, though she was never estranged from her
sister, so that she had had no opportunity of
raising her voice against the no system of the
children's education. Mrs Villiers, after her hus-
band's death, had been so long an invalid, that
the children had been left to the management
of their maids, and the society of their maids'
friends, and thus acquired habits and manners
which could not fail to be painful not only to
a person of Miss Tart's high breeding and re-
fined taste, but to any one accustomed to the
good society of the present time. During the last
two years of his mother's life, Edward had spent
his holidays chiefly with his mother's coachman
-an honest servant, and deserving respect in his
position, but not the companion his aunt would
have chosen for her nephew. After Mrs Villier's
death, Miss Tart left her retirement to reside
with her nieces near London, that she might be
able to procure the best instruction for them,
and make, as she hoped to do, a pleasant home
for her nephew during his vacations. She saw,
with real thankfulness to the Giver of all good
gifts, despite his awkwardness and want of
manners, the noble disposition and generous
nature of Edward Villiers, while she deplored
most bitterly his acquaintance with slang and
his ungentlemanly bearing.
The young ladies were shy and awkward-
very much afraid of their aunt, and consequently
6 T'HE WHISPERER.
appearing to greater disadvantage before her
than before any one else. Of all their gauche
habits, the one which gave Miss Tart the greatest
annoyance was their habit of whispering.
Clementine was prone, whenever she spoke,
to twist her fingers together, and push her right
shoulder above the confines of its shoulder-
strap, until the frock sat quite crooked: Isa-
bella kept up a perpetual drumming with her
left foot; and there was no end to the
twitchings and twirlings, the contortions and
grimaces, of Edward. No sooner had Clemen-
tine's shoulder been returned to its legitimate
position beneath its strap, than Isabella began
drumming; and she had no sooner finished that
exercise, than Edward commenced drawing his
mouth on one side, or elevating one eyebrow
while he depressed the other; or sometimes
they would keep up a trio of strange move-
ments, so that poor Miss Tart did not know who
to reprove first. It was really extraordinary
how three young people, who had not a single
vice to contend against, simply by their bad
habits and manners, rendered themselves so
thoroughly disagreeable not only to Miss Tart-
though she certainly was the greatest sufferer
-but to all their best and kindest friends; so
that no one desired to receive or be with them.
Edward had taken his slang phrases to school;
and because some few lads there vulgarised the
English language, and laughed when he did it,
THE WHISPERER. 7
he thought it amusing and manly to talk like
a coachman and whistle like a gamekeeper-
neglecting the advantages of position and edu-
cation, and adopting the very faults of his in-
feriors, as if they had been perfections.
Poor Miss Tart, while she loved her tor-
mentors, was ashamed of them. She had as
thorough a dislike to girls' schools as I have: at
best, she thought them necessary evils; and yet
sometimes she wished she had placed her nieces
at school, instead of devoting herself to their
service. They would perhaps pay more
attention to strangers than they do to me,"
she said to herself, while going through the
weary task of regulating Clementine's wardrobe,
or smoothing with careful finger the lop-ears
out of Isabel's music, or gazing with feelings
akin to despair at Edward's "boxes."
"I am ashamed that even my own maid
should see the state in which these things are,"
she thought again. And as to poor Edward,
I am so glad Cousin Jacob is coming. If any
one can set these young people to rights, and
teach me how to manage them, it is Jacob. I
hope, however, he will not be too severe. I
remember, when I was a girl"-
Now, just at the moment-at the very instant
when this thought occurred to Miss Tart-her
eyes met her own reflection in the looking-glass
opposite the table at which she stood; and
while her memory recalled what she had been
S THE WHISPERER.
" when a girl," she remained looking fixedly at
the faithful portrait of the present. Hers was
a thoughtful rather than an intellectual brow,
shaded by abundant folds of very gray hair,
which rendered the darkness of her large brown
eyes, and their long lashes, more striking than
they would otherwise- have been: the face was
round rather than oval, but strongly marked by
time, who seemed at war with the bland smile
which had turned dimples into wrinkles all
around her mouth: her figure was erect, and
still well-proportioned; but there was an air of
shyness and timidity in her manner and move-
ments very remarkable at her age; and cer-
tainly Edward was not in error when he said
" that Aunt Tart looked very handsome when
When I was a girl," repeated the lady, whom
it seemed hardly discourteous to call "old"-
"when I was a girl, and considered a beauty,
and set a value upon it-absolutely set a high
value upon what had not the value of a common
rose, for the spring renews its youth-youth
which we know but once And yet," she added,
how foolish and ungrateful are my thoughts !
When the things of the more earthy world, after
the passing away of a few springs, return to and
remain in the mouldering clay, I hope to renew
my youth in another world where nothing
decays. I have heard it said also that every
age has its beauty. I am sure I hope so; but"
THE WHISPERER. 9
-and she shook her head at the mirror-" I
am sure I see none there! It must be a very
awful thing for a woman to grow old without
having her heart kept open by an interest in
the young. I am sure mine is open enough, or I
should not fret as I do about those tormenting,
dear children. I fancied the girls would have
been such neat, orderly, affectionate, elegant
little creatures by this time-quite companions !
Instead of that, whatever they have to say to
each other when I am present, they whisper. I
always did expect the boy to be a torment: I
never did hear of a boy who was a comfort in a
house, except one, and, poor child, he had lost the
use of his limbs-so was very quiet! And yet
I really think, if it were not for the slang, and
the fidgets, and grimaces, and those awful kicks
he gives the poor chairs-if it were not for these
matters, Edward would be a much greater com-
fort to me than his sisters. Were there ever
such lop-ears in books before! Well, when
Cousin Jacob comes, I think matters must
mend. The certainty that all this worry will
send me to my grave very soon would be a
relief, but for the fear of what those poor chil-
dren would go through if they had not some
tender relative to see to their comforts."
Aunt Tart had- contracted a habit of talking
to herself. She would con over her thoughts,
repeating and arranging them; and sometimes
Edward, who was so truly honourable as never to
10 THE WHISPERER.
wish to hear what people did not like to tell him,
would exclaim, when some half-muttered thought
or intention escaped his aunt's lips-" Well, dear
aunt, you did not intend to say that," and he
would repeat what she had fancied was only a
thought; or, fixing his great eyes on her, would
say-" Now, aunty, you are going to say what is
passing in your mind. I see it gathering on
your brows, and trembling on your lips." And
Aunt Tart was pleased at the admonition-it
was so honourable.
My dear boy is high-minded," she said,
" and that is a comfort. I daresay it will be
all right when Cousin Jacob comes. There is
nothing mean about the boy: he does not want
to pry into my thoughts. No: he is above
Aunt," inquired Edward one day, imme-
diately after she had reproved him for walking,
or rather kicking, through the dust which a
sharp wind had drifted into a hollow path by
the roadside-they walked out together in the
hope of seeing even the approach of the carriage
which was to bring Cousin Jacob to Wayville-
"aunt, is Cousin Jacob like you ?"
Oh no, dear: he is short, and round, and
fat, and rosy-quite a fat boy !"
Boy, aunt! Why, you told me yesterday
he was an olderfellow- I beg pardon, dear
aunty; I meant to say that I understood he
was older than you ?"
THE WHISPERER. 11
I meant lie was a fat boy when I saw him
last; but, to be sure, that must be-for-well
-a great number of years ago."
Before Clem- I mean Clementine-was
Yes; long, long before."
Perhaps you would not know him if you
saw him, aunt ?"
Oh yes, dear, I should. Do, dear Edward,
throw that stick away, or avoid knocking the
head off every flower you meet. What good
does it do you to destroy those lovely flowers?"
Oh, aunt, I dun-know."
It is as easy to say I do.not know as 'I
dun-know,' Edward. Dear me, Clementine, you
have pushed Isabel's bonnet quite on one side;
what can you have to whisper about here ?"
Ah, ah !" exclaimed a very active little
man, while flinging himself over a stile which
terminated a pathway leading across some fields
to the London road; "I wish young ladies
whispered less to each other, and attended to
the WHISPERER more."
The speaker stood in the midst of the path,
and extended both hands towards Miss Tart,
who drew back, murmuring, I do not know
Not know me Well, I know you. These
two young ladies-vibrating between hoydenism
and babyhood, disdaining dolls, avoiding books,
aping 'big girls,' and disliked by little ones-
12 THE WHISPERER.
are Clementine and Isabella Villiers: that great,
awkward boy, feeling the knives, and pegtops,
and money, and marbles, and whistles, and wax,
and string, and sticky sweets,' and nuts, and
crackers he has in his trousers pocket with one
hand, and half-inclined to suck the thumb of
the other, from the catfish propensity he has in
common with his kind to put everything into
his mouth-that boy is Edward Villiers: and
you, with the snows of winter on your brow, and
the blushes of spring on your cheek, are my
Cousin Emmeline, whom I never could think of
as 'Little Tart!' "
Short, and stout, and fat, and rosy!" ex-
claimed Aunt Tart, involuntarily repeating her
Ah, that was what I was some few-a great
number of years ago. I have since then lived in
many lands, educated many children, and buried
two wives. But time deals gently with you,
Emmeline," continued the little, old, shrivelled-
up gentleman, in a small, tight, half-military
coat buttoned up to his chin-" time deals very
gently with you, my cousin The whiteness of
the snow has displaced the wing of the raven;
but there are the gentle eyes, the bright blush,
and the tender smile. These young folk worry
you: nay, never deny it; maiden aunts only
get used to children they have dandled in long
clothes: of course they worry you. Nothing
will keep them in order but the Whisperer:
THE WHISPERER. 1
we must turn them over to him at once-that
is the veritable Wizard of the North, the real
bottle conjurer, the actual necromancer!"
And are you really Cousin Jacob ?" in-
quired Aunt Tart ; really my little playfellow ?
But how did you come? Where is your car-
riage? Where is your valet?"
"I brought no carriage, cousin-and I hate
railways, and travelled post: postchaise broke
down-and so I came a short cut to Wayville."
Your servant ?"
My dear Emmeline," interrupted the little
man, for some years I lived in bondage to the
cares and caprices of a favourite valet : he pre-
tended to wait upon me, but in reality I had to
wait upon him. I am now emancipated : I have
absolutely got rid of him: I pensioned him off,
and since then, have felt a free man. No, no,"
he repeated, "my carpet-bag and valise will find
their way to Wayville, for I have not yet paid
the postboys ; and here I am, and here I shall
stay until I get these young folk into proper
training-a work which, with the aid of the
Whisperer, I mean very shortly to accomplish."
Edward, brave and free as he was, shrunk
behind his cousin. He had pictured to himself
what he irreverently called a "jolly old gent. ;"
but here was a keen-sighted, quick-witted,
sharp, commanding sort of I-will-be-obeyed-
and-at-once" person, having, by their father's
will, much control over them: a man evidently
14 THE WHISPERER.
well versed in all things connected with young
people--whose keen, rapid, determined eye
glanced from one to the other, and all the
young people saw instantly that Cousin
Jacob was not to be managed." Their aunt
looked back for a moment: Edward was twist-
ing his face into various, and certainly not
pleasing, expressions, and kicking the stones off
the raised I b1 .iv-y into the grass; while Cle-
mentine's bonnet was thrust against Isabella's
ear. Aunt Tart was seized with one of her
nervous fits, and could not help exclaiming,
" What in the world, young ladies, can you
have to whisper about now ?"
Come, my dear," said Cousin Jacob, turning
rapidly round-so rapidly, that they started-
" Come, my dear, what were you saying ? Come,
quick: no one keeps Cousin Jacob waiting !"
Please, sir," replied the young lady, I was
only saying I wondered would your Whisperer
be a resident or a daily governess ?"
Governess," he muttered; that's good;"
adding aloud, resident-resident And you
were thinking on the subject, I am sure ?" said
the old gentleman, addressing himself to Edward.
Please, sir, I was. The only Whisperer I
ever heard of was one Tom Oakes told me about,
who used to take an obstinate horse by the ear,
and if he was a regular Turk (the horse, 1
mean), after a few sentences just breathed into
his ear, he became so obedient, that at the word
THE WHISPERER. 15
of command he would roll in the hay like a
young kitten: Tom often told me of him-did
you know him, sir ? Tom told a story in prime
style. I beg your pardon, dear aunt; I mean
that Tom told a story well."
Whom did you mean to inquire if I knew ?"
questioned Cousin Jacob-" Tom or the Whis-
perer ? I had not the advantage of Tom's ac-
quaintance. Pray who was Tom ?"
Our helper, sir that is, the groom's
Oh, I see; a stable-friend of yours. I am
sorry, young gentleman, you know no one in
your own rank of life whose information you
could quote; but I have seen the Whisperer
myself; and I assure you I have known a Whis-
perer do more extraordinary things than change
a wild steed into a tame horse."
How capital it is that you knew the real
living Whisperer your own self, sir: that is
capital. I never expected to have seen any one
who knew him. It is famous !" exclaimed Ed-
ward with enthusiasm. "I always thought he
must be a wonderful man. Great men have
not disdained to manage horses-have they,
"No, my boy, they have not. Alexander (I
suppose you know who Alexander the Great
was ?-well, I see you do)-he managed Buce-
phalus; and there the horse and man were well
met; but it pains me to see such a noble animal
16 THE WHISPERER.
as the horse left to the society of coarse stable-
boys, illiterate grooms, and vulgar gentlemen !
Think of the pain it must give a high-bred
horse to hear nothing but slang, and to have his
wide and beautiful nostrils, which seems franled
to scent health and fragrance on the breeze, in-
suited by the fumes of tobacco, or the perpetual
smell of table-beer and porter I really wonder
how the animals endure it." Cousin Jacob
spoke very seriously, and Edward felt uncom-
fortable; but the old gentleman changed the
subject quickly, for he had the happy art of
amusing and interesting, even while he re-
During that evening Cousin Jacob's presence
was hardly felt to be a restraint, he was so
pleasant and so cheerful-so full of anecdote,
without, however, saying more than a word or
two: he had a manner of fixing-or, as Clemen-
tine inelegantly though expressively called it,
"screwing "-his eyes upon them, that, if they
were indulging any of their awkward tricks,
compelled them to desist. Once when Isabella
"lugged" her sister's head towards her to whisper
some nothing into her ear, Cousin Jacob seized
Aunt Tart's cap, and drew her towards him in
the same ungainly and ungraceful manner. Isa-
bella and Clementine saw at once the effect of
the movement, and felt themselves to be ridicu-
lous I beg your pardon, Cousin Emmeline,"
THE WHISPERER. 17
said the old gentleman; "but I wanted to show
the young ladies how they looked."
I do not much like your method of reproving
these children, Cousin Jacob," said Aunt Tart
to him after they were gone to bed. "I do
not, my good friend, doubt but you may show
them the absurdity of their conduct, but you
hurt their feelings. They do not like to be
laughed at. I would rather reason with them."
Reason away, my dear Emmeline-reason on,
reason ever, if it amuses or interests you. You
have your way, I have mine. I am sure yours
is the most legitimate mode of proceeding; but
I must take my own course. With some of my
children I succeeded admirably; others their
mothers managed better; others not so well.
These young things, even to-night, were talk-
ing of-and Miss Isabella (the merry blue-eyed
"No, that is Clementine."
"Well, she was mimicking and ridiculing
some one in the village "-
"I know-I know!" exclaimed poor Miss
Tart. I have lectured her for it often."
"And she does it still? Turn the tables on
her, and see how she will like it."
"I do not think it is right to do what is
wrong, even to cure a fault," replied Miss Tart
"You are right, my cousin; but Old Jacob
must have his own way. Put the poisoned
18 THE WHISPERER.
chalice to her own lips. See how she will like
the bitter draught she is so ready to give to
others. Do not spare, but fall in with me. I
must get them to listen to the Whisperer. And
now, good-night; you must not wonder if I jest
a little at the maiden lady's practical education.
Good-night, sweet Lady-cousin Emmeline."
At breakfast the next morning Edward came
in late, and looked heated and distressed. He
limped, too, a little; and once or twice the
loving eyes of his affectionate aunt perceived
that he put his hand to his side. She imme-
diately began a series of inquiries. Was he
Cousin Jacob laughed at what he called un-
necessary questions. Any one could see he
was hot: why did she inquire ?"
What was the matter then ?"
"What does it matter, dear coz, when my
coffee is cooling ?"
"I tell you, cousin, the boy is not well."
Two tablespoonfuls of castor "-
"Indeed, Jacob"- interrupted the kind
aunt, "a black and bitter mixture will do as
Well, I can tell as well as he : he has been
to the stable."
"I have no stable-keep no horses;" said
Aunt Tart; "so you are wrong."
THE WHISPERER. 19
I did not say your stable, Emmeline-I said
stable: he has been to a stable."
Edward coloured and looked awkward, as
indeed he always did.
He has been to a stable, for he smells of a-
stable; and there are two very decided stable
straws sticking to his left heel."
Isabella and Clementine laughed, and were
going to whisper, when a glance from Cousin
Jacob changed their intent, and one mur-
mured rather than spoke--there was not
much either to whisper or murmur, for all the
young lady said, or intended to say, was Oh
He went to a stable," continued Cousin
Jacob, and he mounted a horse."
Oh, Edward !" said his aunt.
"And the horse threw him, and laughed a
neighing laugh at him afterwards."
Edward became very red indeed, and his dear
kind aunt inquired most lovingly how it was,
and where it was, and was he hurt, and should
she send for a doctor ?
I am sure I don't know how our cousin knew
anything about it," said the boy, "for I gave
Rory a shilling not to tell. I see how cousin
laughs at us, and I did not want him to know.
The next time I trust Rory with.a; secret, he'll
keep it !"
Oh, will he ?" inquired-Cousin Jacob, while
chipping his egg.
20 THE WHISPERER.
But are you much hurt, Edward ?" said Miss
No, dear aunt, thank you."
Only imperfectly brushed," observed tlie old
gentleman. "You should have taken care to
be well brushed. Your jacket has a bruised,
"But how did you know that the horse, as
you call it, sir, laughed at me?"
"Because a horse always knows who he may
laugh at, and who deserves to be laughed at."
Edward looked sadly mortified. I thought,"
said the boy, "one Whisperer was as good as
another, and so I blew into his ears, and talked
into his ears, and threatened to flog him if
he showed any tempers, and mounted him
because the groom at Malcolm's said I dared
not; and then he flung me into a heap of sand,
and then, as my cousin, who seems to know
everything, knows, he stooped to look at me,
and laughed, after his fashion--the vicious
The foolish boy!" exclaimed Cousin Jacob.
Aunt Tart dreaded being laughed at by Cousin
Jacob, or she would have proposed a hot bath
and bleeding after the accident.
"So you wanted to play the Whisperer, did
you, my boy? But believe me it is not to be
played at: on the contrary, the Whisperer will
have his own way; you cannot silence him;
THE WHISPERER. 21
be is an obstinate fellow-a most determined
I thought he was a horse-dealer, or doctor,
or something of that kind, cousin."
Ah! you are thinking of a Whisperer of
one kind-of the Man Whisperer; and I am
thinking of another," said Cousin Jacob ; "but
the mystery-the power of the Man Whisperer
-was never explained."
"I should really (if Edward is not the worse
for his tumble; and I must say I wish both boys
and men would avoid horses)," said Aunt Tart,
who was very timid, and could hardly be pre-
vailed upon to let her nieces mount a donkey.
"If Edward is not the worse (and his appetite
is pretty good), I should like you, Cousin Jacob,
some day soon, to tell us the real story of the
Whisperer, who tamed horses without treating
"I did not say that, cousin," said the old
gentleman. I did not say that the horses were
not treated cruelly; but if they were, there was
no evidence of it. I will tell you all I know
with pleasure; and when Edward hears that
no one, since the Old Whisperer's death, has
done such things with horses, I think he will
not be so foolish as to attempt to practise
what he does not understand. I said," con-
tinued the old gentleman, and he smiled, no
one had practised the art on horses since;
but Whisperers are very busy sometimes with
22 THE WIITSPERER.
asses, though they do not make much of
"Certainly," thought Aunt Tart, "Cousin
Jacob at times has a very disagreeable smile."
Certainly," thought the young sisters, who
had not attempted to whisper to each other
all that morning, "our old cousin has a very
strange twist about his mouth at times, as if
he was laughing at, not with us."
Certainly," thought Edward, Cousin Jacob
fixes one with his way: such an odd way it is
of turning his mouth at the corners. I am sure
I have thought more about myself-I mean
more of what I have done, and am going to do-
since he came, just from the odd way he puts
things, than I did for a long time before. Yes,
certainly he makes me think."
Well, my dears," commenced the old gentle-
man again, you are not going, I hope, to leave
all this room at sixes and sevens. There are a
hundred little matters to settle and arrange in
a breakfast-room after the servants have taken
away the breakfast things, and made all
' straight,' as they call it. Now, Miss Isabella, if,
instead of straining your long neck towards me,
just as a heron does at a fish below the surface
of the water, you were to arrange those flowers
in that vase ; and instead of suffering all the
blues to be in one lump, and all the reds in
another, and the whites spotted about so as to
confuse the whole, if you advance the white
THE WHISPERER. 23
rose so, and relieve it with the fine purple of
the stock, which blends so beautifully with the
damask of this dark rose, then let the lark-
spur feather upwards, and the lily crown the
whole like a queen as she is! you have at once
a charming bouquet of perfume and beauty:
let some of the green leaves remain, I conjure
you-they are nature's drapery to her flowers."
I remember how you loved flowers, cousin,"
said Aunt Tart; and I ought to have arranged
Not a bit of it: it ought to be the young
ladies' delight. Ah, when the Whisperer comes,
and is understood and appreciated, these things
will be felt and done! Now, Miss Clementine,
instead of pulling your fingers, or twisting them
into fox and geese,' suppose you arrange this
work-box," and by a dexterous and rapid move-
ment Cousin Jacob upset a work-box, whose
unsettled "state" had been an inconceivable
annoyance to Aunt Tart for many previous days.
She had talked at and of the box, but did not
like to do what Cousin Jacob did; indeed poor
Aunt Tart would never have thought of toss-
ing the things on the floor, and then insisting
that order should be produced out of chaos.
Now, when the room assumes a well-ordered
English look, combining comfort and elegance,"
quoth Cousin Jacob; when the -l.. i: look
fresh and happy, as they deserve to do, and
the broad sunlight is softened by a judicious
24 THE WHISPERER.
drawing down of blinds and folding of curtains
-when the mignionette-box is placed in the
window, so that the air will waft its perfume as
it enters-when the lark -is either liberated or
-(Miss Clementine, it is yours, I believe)-is
nicely cleaned and cared for, and supplied with
a fresh turf-when the ladies gather round the
work-table; and Edward, properly brushed, in-
stead of wearing his hair either furze-bush
fashion, or streaked down with oil to save
brushing-comes clean and trim, with polished
nails, and teeth like ivory, and sits quietly and
calmly, I shall be ready to tell of the Whisperer,
or of all the Whisperers I have known, and
teach those whom Cousin Jacob loves to
cherish the Whisperer, whom, if they have
heard him at all, they have refused to listen
to, or treated with the inattention which, I
am sorry to observe, they have exhibited to-
wards many things already.
Ah, my dears !" continued the old gentle-
man, "I know you all thoroughly. I was obliged
to act the part of both father and mother to
my own children. I got masters, governesses,
tutors of all kinds ; but they did not, could not,
see what I saw, or feel as I felt: I never did
much good until I got them to listen to and
understand the Whisperer !"
It was quite curious to see how anxious and
active the children became under their aged
cousin's direction; and yet his mode of tuition
THE WHISPERER. 25
was very singular: he was ten times more parti-
cular than Miss Tart, but he was not nervous or
anxious. What she would have requested, in-
treated, to be done, and the young people would
have "dawdled" about, or not heeded, Cousin
Jacob, in his own quaint, peculiar way, com-
manded, and it was done at once. Edward knew
that Cousin Jacob and Aunt Tart were their
guardians; and he saw there was no way" to
"manage" Cousin Jacob: what he wanted to
be done, must be done, and at once; and yet
he never said you shall," though you shall"
beamed in his bright, restless, all-seeing eyes.
Isabella came down to breakfast one morning
with the torn gathers of her frock tucked un-
der the waist-ribbon. Aunt Tart was distressed,
and with her usual amiability began to "get at"
how she was to tell her about it-fussing, and
sighing, and groaning all the time. Cousin Jacob
inserted his finger in the rent, tearing it down,
then opening the parlour door, he bowed pro-
foundly to the young lady, and assured her that
he was delighted to see she felt the Whisperer's
suggestion in its right sense, and would not
dream of eating her breakfast in a tattered dress.
Poor Edward had been spoken to for days and
days by his aunt as to the absolute necessity
there was for invariably washing his hands
before dinner. The eagle-eye of Cousin Jacob
detected at once the want of attention on this
point. Just as they were seated at table, ser-
26 THE WHISPERER.
vants in attendance, and the covers about to
be removed, he arose suddenly: every one in-
quired What he wanted ?"-" Was he ill?"-
"Could anything be got for him ?" No; but
he was unhappy: he would return in a minute.
The old gentleman mounted nimbly up stairs,
and in little more than a minute came as
nimbly down, bearing a wash-hand basin, towel,
soap, everything necessary, placed them gravely
before Edward, begging him to comply with
the suggestion of the Whisperer-to wash and
be clean !
Oh how Eld. Oil's cheeks burned-how he in-
treated permission to go up stairs-how wretched
good Aunt Tart looked-how impossible for the
servants, who saw only the caricature, and did
not comprehend the delicate nature of the re-
proof, to avoid tittering At last they all looked
at the ceiling, while Cousin Jacob continued as
grave as a judge !
Aunt Tart-dear, good Aunt Tart-felt so
much for her darling, that she was about to cry;
but at last the absurdity of the little scene
struck her, and she laughed outright.
What !" exclaimed Edward, half-indignant
and half-abashed-" what, dear aunt; you laugh
at me !-' Et ti Brute !' "
The old footman did not understand the quo-
tation, for he told the cook that "Young gentle-
men were come to a pretty pass, not like what
they used to be. Master Edward did the same
THE WHISPERER. 27
thing as call his aunt (with whom he (the old
footman) had lived in more than comfort for
twenty years) a brute !"
And when the housemaid told the ladies'-
maid of Master Edward's inconsideration and
want of manners, and it somehow" got echoed
back to Miss Tart, that good lady explained it,
and gave the maid the Roman history to read;
but the explanation failed to convince the ser-
vants of their want of understanding, and, with
one and all, Edward became decidedly un-
One evening Cousin Jacob began, without
having been asked to do so, to tell, much to
Edward's delight, about the Horse Whisperer.
The old gentleman had a rapid way not only of
uttering words, but conveying ideas. He was so
sudden and abrupt in all he said and did-he,
as Clementine observed, "pounced upon every-
thing so"-that the young folk had got into a
habit not only of watching him, but of watch-
ing themselves, which improved them very
Aunt Tart said they were not like the
same." Edward's cheeks shone again with all
the rubbing and scrubbing he gave them; his
hair, which was really beautiful, looked as it
ought to do; and he showed with great triumph
to his sisters the half-moon" on every nail.
If his elbows were on the table when his cousin
28 THE WHISPERER.
entered, he removed them instantly, and down
they went into their natural position.
But I am rambling in a way which I am sure
Cousin Jacob, were he here, would not approve.
You asked me about the Horse Whisperer,
cousins," he startled them by saying, for he had
been looking fixedly out on the lawn; "and
seeing a groom in the next field march up to a
pony, and take him by the ear, has reminded me
of it. When I was a lad-(I did not kick the table,
Edward, with the left foot, and then kick at the
bar of the chair with the right)-when I was a
lad, I spent my college vacations with a dear
friend of my poor father's in Ireland. He was a
kind-hearted gentleman, who had gone out with
my father to India. He returned to take pos-
session of a nominal estate in the Emerald Isle:
my father remained to make an actual fortune
in India. My friend was very kind. As I told
you, I spent my holidays with him-the holi-
days of a schoolboy-the vacation of a college
youth. Well-(Isabella, it would be better to
push up both your shoulders, and get your dress
fairly off at once. It must be very inconvenient
to keep up one. Poor young lady, I quite sym-
pathise with you !)-well, in those days I loved
horses, as Edward does. I never was happy
except when my neck was in danger. There
was a horse called Comet, that Mr O'Brien had
bought at a very large price. It was a superb
creature, but no one could keep on its back: my
THE WHISPERER. 29
friend, captivated by its beauty, never dreamed
of its uselessness. All the mighty Nimrods
came from far to try their power or their
skill; but the animal treated them with con-
tempt, and kept them all at bay. When we
went into his stall, or rather into his stable, for
few had the courage to venture near his 'stall,'
back went his ears, round came his eye to the
corner-you could see that eye flash like light-
ning-and the nostril distend, then collapse,
then distend; his lips would quiver, and the
very muscles of his beautiful limbs prepare, as
it were, for action: he bit, he kicked, he reared
-he was utterly unmanageable. 'So much for
mere beauty!' exclaimed my friend, after wit-
nessing the ease with which the best jockey in
the kingdom was thrown (he had got up
by stratagem)--while the horse scoured the
meadow like a whirlwind. 'So much for-no-
thing but beauty!' he repeated; and-Cousin
Clementine, permit me"- Cousin Jacob
arose, and endeavoured to get down the pier-
glass that was fastened between the windows.
"What are you doing ?" inquired Miss Tart.
"And to stop at that interesting point !"
Why, don't you see how hardly poor Clemen-
tine was trying, to look at herself in the glass ?
To admire, doubtless, the twist of the ringlet
she has been greasing her fingers with during
the last five minutes. Well, my dear, since I
cannot manage that for you, permit me to place
80 THE WHISPERER.
your chair directly opposite the glass: there
now, you can see without practising those dis-
tortions which are so painful to look at."
Poor Clementine blushed, and fidgetted, and
looked very foolish, and assured her cousin she
did not want to look in the glass at all. And
he most politely assured her that he did not
wish to contradict her, but it was very ex-
traordinary indeed she should try so hard to
do what she did not want to do! It was very
odd Now he would continue.
"1Mr O'Brien, as I have told you, said 'So
much for nothing but beauty!' I myself
thought it an excellent thing to remember-a
lesson against estimating beauty too highly.
'I make bould to tell ye, master,' said his little
groom, Johnny Fagin, who had been in the
world, according to his own statement, 'since
the year one;' and the poor little fellow was
lame, and nearly blind, and his little head,
round which the white hair was closely cropped,
looked like a snowball on a crooked stick-' I
tell ye what, master, the only cure for that
horse is the Whisperer.' My friend had a
habit of saying 'Psha!' to anything he either
did not understand or disbelieved, and the P
trembled on his lips; but I daresay the word
Whisperer suggested something particular ;and,
moreover, as he lived in the hope of growing
old, he remembered it would not be wise to
treat those who were old already with dis-
THE WHISPERER. 31
respect; and so he said, 'Johnny, you are, I
daresay, wiser than I am upon this subject,
but I have no faith in that man: to be sure
I never saw him"'
"I beg your pardon, Cousin Jacob," inter-
rupted Edward-who, ten days previously, would
have interrupted any one without saying I beg
your pardon"-" but I thought you observed he
had suggested something to Mr O'Brien?"
"Not the Horse Whisperer, my dear boy-Mr
O'Brien at that time had never seen him; but
he had his Whisperer, just as I have mine. Yes,
yes, poor fellow! he-had-his-Whis-per-er,
and a bitter one he was-bitter, but true !"
Cousin Jacob paused, and rubbed his eyebrow
with the forefinger of his right hand, as he
always did when he pondered on a subject; and
no one recalled him to it, for they were thinking
that the Whisperer must be a sort of familiar-
a little domestic spirit-and felt rather uncom-
fortable at the idea.
"Well, my dear little cousins, my friend
looked at the beautiful ungovernable horse, and
wished he had never bought it; but Johnny kept
near his master, telling wonderful tales of the
Horse Whisperer, in this fashion-
"Deed, sir, he'd tame him. Didn't I know
him shut up in a stable for not twenty minutes
with Mr Tim Morris's Roving Blade, who broke
more necks than ere a horse in the county, and
32 THE WHISPERER.
the light of whose eye would set fire to a hay-
Cousin Jacob mimicked the Irish accent so
well, that the children laughed in merry chorus.
"' Ay, your honour; and when he came out,
didn't he take the smiling darling of a baby, Miss
Emmy Morris, out of her nurse's arms, and seat
her on the saddle? and didn't the baste walk like
a lamb, and as study as a judge, with her-an'
she, the jewel! crowing like forty game-cocks
with delight ? And there was Jenny Howlin's
gray mare, that kick't the world before as well
as behind her; not a trace or a bridle-rein in
the county would should her. Well, ten minutes
made her right, so that she'd all as one as ask
to be harnessed.'
Old Johnny called this mode of telling
stories firing guns at the master; and after
each shot he waited to see if it made an im-
Mr O'Brien remained leaning over the gate
with folded arms, watching the proud horse
which cost him so much money and anxiety,
and old Johnny, a little dwarfed man, wander-
ing, as it were, around him.
"' Think of it, master dear It's a desperate
pity to let anything so noble as that fine ani-
mal go altogether to the bad, just by having its
own way! Too much of that is the worst that
can happen man or beast. Look at the crest of
his neck, arched for all the world like a rainr
THE WHISPERER. 33
bow; look at the straightness of his limbs -his
little ears, twinkling like stars ; and his nostril!
'deed your own, sir, could not tell out finer at a
new canister of Cork snuff-humbly asking your
honour's pardon !'"
Oh, I should so like little Old Johnny!"
exclaimed Edward in delight.
And he deserved to be liked," replied Cousin
Jacob; but not exactly for the reason you
imagine-because he was a free and fearless
jester-but because he was almost as useful to
his master as the Whisperer himself. Johnny
was a devoted truth-teller, using the privilege of
ancient service to watch and guard his master's
interests. I often wondered in my boyhood how
anything so old, and withered, and feeble, could
be so useful; and learned-(thanks to the Whis-
perer)-to estimate the more homely virtues by
reading the fidelity and truth of Old Johnny.
But I must continue-
"' I tell you,' said his master, turning his
portly person round full upon his ancient ser-
vitor-' I tell you he is an impostor: he would
whisper anything for money!'
No, your honour, he would not; and it isn't
the money he cares half so much for, though
le can't live no more than the rest of us with-
out money, barring it's on credit, and that's ruin
-no, sir, he has fine feeling and honour: he
breaks in every one of the O'Donoughoos'
horses, and never closed his hand on their coin,
34 THE WHISPERER.
just because they are of a noble family, though
poor. And when Mr Speen sent for him, and
by way of a jest wanted to shut him into a
stable to whisper an ass, not all the glitter of
his goold could get him to lay finger near the
horse he really wanted cured: but do as you
like, master, he'll touch none of your money un-
less he cures your horse ; that's one thing.'
The end of it was, my friend sent for the
Whisperer. I remember watching every horse
that came down the avenue the morning he was
expected, and even gallopping to the cross-roads
to look out. Mr O'Brien himself was a little
anxious or curious, perhaps both: he walked to
the window several times, pretending to scan
which way the wind blew, and threw up the
sash. He was restless and impatient, and I
was ten times worse. I had pictured to my-
self a pale, keen-eyed, thin man, in a black
coat, something like a picture I had seen of
a German student. It was very ridiculous to
imagine, that because the Whisperer was clever
and powerful (in his way) he must seem so. I
have since learned that clever-really clever
-people never seek to appear what they are:
they leave that to others to discover. Well,
I was in a perfect fever of excitement to see
this man. I could not sleep for thinking of
him; and kept asking every one I met if he
were come ?' Evening approached: I was weary
with watching, and resolved to be the first to
THE WHISPERER. .5
see him. I still watched, just-as-as-as-oh!
-as these young ladies did for their new bon-
nets, spending the whole day in watching-not
working! At last I climbed to the top of a
mount which overlooked the high road, and I
suppose over-fatigue sent me to sleep. I was
awoke by some one poking me with a long stick.
'Is he come ?' I exclaimed, jumping up.
A stranger stood beside me, dressed in a
coat and waistcoat of coarse blue cloth, while his
rough stockings and high fronted shoes pro-
claimed him a country farmer. Without notic-
ing my inquiry, he said that somehow he had
lost his way, and did not like going down the
avenue without asking if that was Mr O'Brien's.
This was said in rich, rolling, merry brogue, and
the speaker looked, as my friend Edward would
say in his elegant manner, as 'jolly' a farmer,
'rough, red, and ruddy,' as you could meet
behind a plough, or with a hay-fork on his
shoulder. Casting another longing look towards
the road, which was then illumined by the
setting sun, and hearing the preliminary grat-
ing or rocking of the great dinner-bell, which
always seemed unwilling to be disturbed, or to
do its duty, I told the man to come with me, as
that was Mr O'Brien's. He carried a stout shil-
lala (what Irishman does not ?), but he carried it
over his shoulder, and a bundle tied in a hand-
kerchief dangled from it. He told me he had
walked a long distance. I was not in a good-
36 THE WHISPERER.
humour, and so did not reply. He made one or
two other observations, and I hardly seemed to
hear him-my mind was full of my disappoint-
ment. When we got to the house, I pointed the
way to the kitchen.
"'No,' he said, 'I want to go to the stables,
though it is too late to do anything to-night. I
want to see the old groom, Johnny Fagin, im-
"' Have you brought a message from "the
Whisperer ?"' I eagerly inquired.
"' No, young master, I have not,' he answered;
'and I think, if I may make bold to say it, a
touch from the Whisperer would do you no
harm: you seem too much wrapt up in yourself,
and too pleased with yourself, to give a civil
answer to a poor traveller, who is weary and
footsore. In Ireland, when we have nothing
else to give, we give the kindly welcome."'
"' A blunder!' I exclaimed jeeringly. 'You
say you have nothing to give, and you have just
proved you have something.',/
The man looked annoyed; but after a mo-
ment the scowl of contempt passed from his
brow, and giving me a gentle, good-humoured
pat on the shoulder, which I felt rather inclined
to resent than receive as it was intended, he
said, not addressing me exactly, Nice little
creature enough ; but he is only a Saxon-quite
.a foreigner !' and turned away.
When I entered the dining-room, my friend
THE WHITSPERER. 37
sat down as usual; and when the dinner was
concluded, Old Johnny fidgetted his way into
the room-' He's come, sir !' said Johnny sig-
nificantly -' he's come: young master there
showed him the way'-
"' And never told me Oh fie, Jacob !'
How shocked I was I do not know why
I was so anxious to see the Whisperer. In
the country, where people and events come few
and far between,' every one and everything
creates an interest, and my love of horses stimu-
lated my curiosity; but all my anxiety to see
him was now merged in the memory of my dis-
courteous behaviour; and when, a few moments
after, he was conducted into the room by
Johnny, while the little man looked so bright
and happy, I sneaked away, ashamed to be seen;
and then remembering that it is one of the first
duties of a gentleman to acknowledge a fault, I
returned, and walking up to the Whisperer,
whose name was Sullivan, I said, I am very
sorry I fancied you a very different person from
what you are, and I beg your pardon for having
treated you rudely.'
Mr O'Brien would hear everything that had
been said or done ; and while I became eloquent
on my want of courtesy, the Whisperer suggested
excuses, which I did not deserve ; until at last
Mrs O'Brien called to our mind that the Israelites
of old committed their great crime against Hm
who came to the lost sheep of their house, be-
38 THE WHISPERER.
cause He came in all simplicity, and not, as they
expected, as a temporal prince: if He had come
as a conqueror, with pomp and pride, they would
have received Him. My little friend Jacob will,
I hope, remember in future,' she said, 'to be
courteous to all, and to give offence willingly to
none: that is a law from God to man. It is
not because of this one's fortune, or the other
one's talent, that we are to be generally hospit-
able and kind; but because we are all brethren.
There are degrees in showing kindness; but
every human being, whether clothed in purple
or penury, has a right to human sympathy and
kindness from his fellow-creatures.'
We all accompanied the Whisperer the next
morning to Comet's stable: the horse laid back
his ears, and brought his flashing eye round to
the corner, so as to look at his visitors. When the
groom went near his stall, he struck out at him,
and his flesh quivered with eagerness to destroy
whatever came within his reach. It was some-
thing quite terrible to see anything so full of
beauty so destructive. Not so bad a case as I
have had,' said Sullivan in a calm tone. The
horse turned round his head to look at him. The
Whisperer went deliberately up, and laid his hand
on his shoulder. How his ears twinkled and his
nostrils swelled! but he did not attempt to injure
him. At an understood signal we left the stable,
and soon heard the key turned. 'I should so
like to peep!' said some one"-
THE WHISPERER. 39
"No, indeed, Clementine, it was not Cousin
Jacob who said that; Cousin Jacob was not
'Whoever attempted that,' replied Mr O'Brien
sternly, could not continue in my house. The
person who would steal a secret, would steal a
purse, but for fear of the law.'"
Then you have no idea what he did ?" said
Not in the least. We waited as impa-
tiently as Edward did for the dessert the other
day, when that universal domestic torment, Mr
Nobody," lost the key of the store-closet; but
perhaps in little more than half an hour the
Whisperer opened the door, and requested us to
enter. The horse was standing certainly-and
yet how he stood was a wonder-for he trembled
in every limb; his glossy coat was saturated as
if he had been in a river, the fire of his eye was
subdued, his ears remained firm, and the curve
of his nostril was undisturbed by any emotion.
'Will you mount him, sir ?' inquired the
My friend was astonished. Pray do, sir.
He will be as gentle as a lamb, as swift as an
arrow, and as certain, sir, as DEATH: pray mount
The Whisperer went towards him; every
hair quivered: he told him to lie down: in a
moment his graceful limbs bent, and he was
at his conqueror's feet, as tame and obedient
40 THE WHISPERER.
as a dog. The man sat down on him, passed
his arm round his neck, and invited us to do
the same. I, who had looked upon him from
afar, and watched his movements as I would
have watched a flash of lightning, lifted his
head, and laid it on my knee. At last my
friend, convinced that the Whisperer had per-
formed his promise, and that the horse was
conquered, mounted him, and rode some twenty
miles without checking bridle.
"'If ever he should forget himself,' said the
Whisperer, I hope your honour will send for
me, and I will charge nothing for my second
"I have no doubt now that the animal
was conquered by some sudden terror, and
brought thus in a moment under subjection. The
uneducated attributed the Whisperer's power
to supernatural influence; the educated could
not account for it. It was quite amusing to
see the quiet smile and twinkling eyes of the
magician while each person present speculated
upon the how' he managed to tame the Bu-
And was the horse really tamed-' broken
in'-as they say ?" inquired Edward.
He certainly was," answered Cousin Jacob.
"Some five years afterwards he had a relapse.
The Whisperer then was an old man, and it was
reported that his power had declined with his
years; but my friend wrote me word that the
THE WIIISPE1RE1. 41
horse absolutely knew the sound of his footstep
as he entered the stable. There was no necessity
for whispering that time-his presence was quite
sufficient to produce the same effects, which
continued to operate until the animal's death."
Did he never tell his secret ? I would have
given him any money for it," said Edward.
An unlimited sort of offer," observed Cousin
Jacob with his little fidgetty smile; and one
you are quite safe in making, considering the
man was dead long before you were born.
But he left his secret, it was said, to his son,
who practised without ever attaining the same
power. Both father and son, however, refused
to sell their secret."
Do you know any other story about Whis-
perers ?" inquired Isabella.
Your own Whisperer!" suggested Clemen-
I will tell you all about my own peculiar
Whisperer one day or another," replied Cousin
Jacob; but in the meantime answer Isabella's
question by saying that, stimulated, I imagine,
by the success of one Whisperer, I went to see
the operations of another. I take it for granted,
young ladies and gentleman, you all know what
a Bee is. I do not suppose you have obtained
your knowledge of this marvellous little insect
by the foolish nursery rhyme of
God made man, and man made money;
God made the bees, and the bees made honey.'
42 THE WHISPERER.
Or merely by an acquaintance with 'A bee in
your bonnet,' which is frequently a very trouble-
some affair. I would rather presume that your
first acquaintance with that insect is to be
traced to a poem which was engraved upon my
own heart in childhood, and remains there still,
How doth the little busy bee.'
Can you go on, Clementine ?"
Clementine could, and so could Isabella, and
so could Edward, and Miss Tart; and they went
on repeating that immortal poem of Dr Watts,
and commenting on its truth and beauty, until
suddenly Edward thrust in a line of something
else, which sounded so oddly, that they all
I really do know what bees are," said Aunt
Tart. "I cultivated them after the old fashion,
which cost me many a heartache. I never
ordered a hive to be smothered, that I did not
feel something knocking at my heart, and in-
quiring what right I had to destroy the creators
of the luxury I was preparing to enjoy ?"
Served you right, cousin," said Jacob;
" Esth! served you very right."
Now you must know that as I write it,
E-s-t-h" conveys a very poor idea of the
hissing contemptuous noise the old gentleman
produced when anything either occurred or was
said which he very much disliked. He could
endure a great deal without saying or rather
THE WHISPERER. 43
hissing csth;" it was well known that when
Cousin Jacob said esth," he was marvellously
Every one did so," observed Aunt Tart in
her meekest voice.
Cousin Emmeline, that 'Everybody' is as
un-get-at-able a body as Nobody;' and I take
it no precedent for a rational being to follow. If
one Mr Everybody commenced cutting the other
Mr Everybody's throat, is that a reason why
Mr Anybody should do the same thing ? Esth !
we are a nation of pilferers! Oh, you may
smile, young ladies; but we are! Pretty people
we are indeed to be proud of ourselves !-com-
mitting, as we do hourly, outrages against
nature and her laws. I am not speaking of
those great historic crimes which stain the
pages of the past. No, no! I am thinking
of the present-the daily cruelties we practise.
What right have we to urge the horse into the
agonies of a steeple-chase? God gave us the
noble animal to assist and facilitate our labours
-not as the instrument of mere heartless
amusement esth I cannot stroll down a
green lane without hearing some brainless fellow
fire off a gun-not to gain or give bread, but
to destroy a singing bird, or useful rook, who
ought to be considered the farmer's friend in-
stead of being treated as his enemy. In the
city, injustice and cruelty meet one in every
street! Look at our overloaded and over-
44 THE WHISPERERL
driven omnibuses! Look, if you can, into the
close cellars and noisome attics, where hundreds
of our fellow-creatures live to starve, and starve
to live! Look at our thoughtless women -of
fashion, careless of the unreasonableness of their
demands, and compelling the dress to be sent
to-morrow, without thinking that to do it the
dressmaker must sit up all night as well as
work all day! Look at the little misses and
masters stuffing all day long, and tiffing with
good plain food, heedless of the children who
cry for the crumbs which fall from the rich
man's table !' Look at our overheated shops,
where white slaves stand and toil for fifteen
and sixteen hours out of the twenty-four!
-Esth! Bah! but my heart and eyes ache
from looking I wonder, Cousin Emmeline, you
are not haunted by the ghosts of the bees you
smothered! I have heard of being kicked to
death by crickets-stung to death by bees would
be a more fitting death for you !"
I am sure, Cousin Jacob," replied poor Miss
Tart, you used to eat the honey; I think you
deserved some of the stings."
"I am sure I did," he answered; "for in
those times people committed all manner of un-
kindness, not to say cruelty, from want of thought.
I am willing that the finer, the more sensitive
emotions of our nature, should be brought into
subjection by reason. I know that it is necessary
oxen should be killed; but let them be treated
THE WHISPERER. 45
with humanity until the deathblow is given. I
know that the poor must labour-and, by the
way, so must the rich, if they would be either
healthy or happy-but let kindness and sym-
pathy sweeten their needful toil, which is
altogether different from that which the rich
inflict upon themselves. Ah, Clementine not
the most industrious, but the hardest-working
family I know, consists of five young ladies and
their mamma, who reside in a certain fashionable
Square. They go to three parties in one night,
besides dropping in at bits and scraps of con-
certs, and plays, and operas, and shops, and
horticultural fetes, and fashionable lectures, and
simpering bazaars, and park-driving, and sales."
Cousin Jacob paused in his enumeration of
fashionable dissipation simply for want of breath,
and after a deep-drawn sigh, continued-" And
that never get to bed until four in the morning;
and they think it so necessary to be seen every-
where, that their morning visiting and corres-
pondence would tire out a troop of horse, and
exhaust a legion of secretaries! And yet they
get through it-grumbling all the time at their
engagements, and looking pale and discontented,
except when floating in new dresses for particular
occasions. Their servants get into the same
habits, and then they rate them for doing as
they do; they never treat their dependants with
consideration, and their dependants merely look
upon them as-persons to pay them their wages.
46 THE WHISPERER.
Oh the good old times! when young ladies
took care of the roses on their cheeks by culti-
vating the roses in their garden, when"-
Cousin Jacob," interrupted Aunt Tart, "you
ramble away from a subject in a very extraordi-
nary manner. You were going, I think, to tell
us something about- I really forget; what
was it, Edward ?"
"Was it dogs ?" inquired Edward, who often
replied to one question by asking another.
"No," said Isabel; "it was something about
bees. You said your curiosity was stimulated,
and then you stimulated ours by a hint, and
then away you went."
I am an unsatisfactory old fellow alto-
gether," replied Cousin Jacob; "but I remem-
ber intending to tell you of an idiot boy who
had as much power over bees as the Whisperer
had over horses. He was called by the country
people 'Billy the Burr,' I suppose from a habit
he had of 'burring' with his lips, or perhaps his
tongue. I have seen him go under a swarm of
bees, hanging from the bough of an apple-tree,
bu-rr-or, if you please to call it so, pur-r-
round it, putting his face quite close to the in-
sects, and reducing his burr to a whisper; and
in a few minutes the swarm would transfer itself
to his head and shoulders-hanging around him
like one of those flowing wigs that decorated
(according to the monstrous fashion of the
times) the heads and shoulders of our beaux
THE WHISPERER. 47
and gallant gentlemen in the reign of Charles
II. He would shake them off on a white cloth,
tumble the pugnacious insects over and over
with his hands, pick out the queen-bee, and
drop her quietly into the empty hive, which
had been prepared for the purpose with cross
sticks, and rubbed with cream and bean-blos-
soms-well assured that her loyal and faithful
servants would follow their sovereign lady and
mistress. He would 'whisper'-' burring'-round
and round a hive that was full of honey, and
the bees would crowd to him, so that not one
remained in the hive, which was frequently re-
moved, and another put in its place by the thrifty
housewife ; thus anticipating the humane pro-
jects of Mr Nott-preserving both bees and honey.
"It was very singular to see this simple crea-
ture, apparently so devoid of intellect-to ob-
serve how he shuffled up to the beehive, seating
himself directly in front of it, stretching out his
arms caressingly towards it, burring at first
loudly, then drawing nearer, and breathing upon
it; then pressing his arms round it, and with
half-closed eyes moving his head up and down,
and around, as you see bird-fanciers do to their
bullfinches when they require them to pipe;
then tapping first one side, and then the other,
with his huge, half-powerless fingers ; then
whispering and murmuring, and all the time
the bees crawling out and over him. If they
came slowly, he would sometimes get impatient,
48 THE WHISPERER.
and turn over the hive at once between his
knees, upon which there was a great commo-
tion, and considerable remonstrance, but there
were no stings !"
"Was he questioned, cousin, as to his power
over the bee portion of the insect world ?" in-
quired Miss Tart.
Oh yes; but his replies were far more un-
satisfactory than his proceedings-' Oh yes I
know de bees: I whisper dem what I want: dey
love an' trust me, and in coorse do what I tell
'ur. Dey know Billy'"-
There was a great text in that simple sen-
tence," said Miss Tart. They love and trust
me, and of course do what I tell them.' A great
number of persons profess to love and to trust,
and yet will not do what they are told."
"Aunt Tart," observed Edward-and while
he spoke, the colour mounted to his very brow-
"I am sure I try with all my might and main
to please you; I do indeed, and I am sure my
sisters have the same desire. And you know,
dear aunty, when a cove-I beg your pardon, I
mean a fellow-I beg your pardon again-I
would say, when a boy has an earnest desire to
please, I think he will sooner or later find the way.
I wish I had never talked slang-it sticks to my
tongue as the thistle-burr stuck to your shawl
the other morning; and I do see the absurdity
of going to be educated by gentlemen and scho-
THE WHISPERER. 49
lars, and yet adopting the language of the
stable and the streets."
"Better save the expense, and go as a stable-
boy at once!" exclaimed Cousin Jacob. "I
really think, if our youth go on as they have
been going, in twenty years there will not be a
gentleman in England. The tone of society has
sunk-the world is out of tune. Instead of en-
deavouring to draw the people up to our own
level, we are grovellingly content with descend-
ing to theirs. It's all wrong: it's all-all
wrong !" repeated Cousin Jacob, shaking his
head. "You may depend upon it it's all
wrong! Those who abandon the good-breed-
ing of gentlemen, ought also to be prepared to
lay down their position and fortune. How
would you like that, Master Edward? And as
to the young ladies "-
"Indeed, Cousin Jacob," interrupted Aunt
Tart, "they are so much improved, that I do
not like to see your eyes twinkling like stars
on a cold frosty night, as they always do when
you are going to tell them what is right."
We always know when Cousin Jacob is
about to reprimand us by the corners of his
mouth," said Clementine.
"Or the manner in which he elevates his
eyebrow-so !" half whispered Isabel, blushing
at her own boldness, and shrugging out her
shoulder a very little bit at the same time in a
sort of nervous manner.
50 THE WHISPERER.
Cousin Jacob drew down his brows, and tried
to look very terrible; but he only looked very
odd, and very unlike any one else.
"I do not like to have to do with spoiled
children," he said; it is not pleasant. My
own-now scattered far and wide ; some in
( 1C ii,, some in India, but the greater number
where we all hope to be when the Almighty
calls us away from this world-they were good,
pious children; and the best went first, as it is
ever right they should. Cousin Emmeline re-
members hearing much of some of them: they
all knew the value of the Whisperer. They
knew the advantage I derived from him, and
they were all prepared to treat his councils with
The Horse Whisperer ?" inquired Edward.
No, although the horse is sometimes more
docile than the man."
The Bee Whisperer ?" said Isabel.
"No : the Whisperer I mean has little to do
with bees; that is, I do not know-cannot say
that he has anything to do with them, though
it is just possible."
"I do not like whispering," said Miss Tart;
"and I must say my nieces have avoided it lately
in a way that has given me much pleasure."
"Oh the mean, mysterious little whizzy-
whizzy that Miss Tattle mutters to Miss Prattle,
and which might be shouted upon Mount Ararat
without any one being the wiser or the better
THE WHISPERER. 51
for it, is so meaningless, so contemptible, so-
nothing-that it puts one quite out of temper to
see the pretty head of one young miss bobbing
its pretty ringlets at the ear of another young
miss; and then the whispered to, turns whis-
perer, and smooths her braids, and bends her
head towards her companion ; and all this rub-
bish is as rude as it is senseless. Oh, my WHIs-
PERER is altogether different Listen, and I
will tell you; that is, if you have patience to
"I was one of eleven, nine of whom were boys.
We were, like other large families, of mingled
dispositions, mingled talents, mingled inclina-
tions. My eldest brother, my poor mother
always said, would have achieved high honours
at college, if he could have passed along a third
form at Harrow. Another was a great genius-
at least so we all believed: and if he could have
thought so himself, he might have been distin-
guished; but, like all truly great people, he
undervalued himself-lived unhappy, and died
"His case is a rare one, cousin-is it not?"
said Miss Tart.
"Yes," was the reply; "but only because
high genius is rare."
"Another, I remember, had a great talent for
cutting paper; and two would go into the navy;
and one into the army. My sisters were staid,
well-behaved young girls-once: they are now
52 THE WHISPERER.
gray grandmothers. I believe, when very young,
I was the greatest torment my dear mother
"There, Aunt Tart!" exclaimed Edward,
"there must be some hope for me! You see how
good and amiable Cousin Jacob is now, yet he
was once his mother's greatest torment !'"
I was indeed a great torment; but my dear
mother always said I would come right, I so
very soon made a friend of the Whisperer. I
could hardly tell you when this valuable ac-
quaintanceship commenced-in my very earliest
childhood I should imagine. And, strange as
it may seem, at that time, and even in after-life,
I had violent struggles with this admirable
friend. Many and many a pinch and a pull
he gave me; many a time has he tweaked
me so severely, that I have cried bitter tears;
often have I sulked with him, often given
him evil words in exchange for those which he
bestowed upon me; and that, of all other things
for which I ought to feel most grateful, is the
fact, that no matter how ill I used him, it never
changed his purpose: he was still my faithful,
steady, unchanging friend !"
Cousin Jacob paused, and his little, hard
features assumed an expression as if he were
looking a long, long way back amid the years
which youth thinks never pass with sufficient
"I remember," he continued, how very
THE WIIISPEREIR. 53
angry I made him once by stealing some apples.
1 was a very tiny fellow, not more than seven
years old; but I did know better. Some apples
had been promised me by an old gardener, who
had gone a journey, and I was so greedy, that I
could not wait his return. I remember endea-
vouring to prove, that as they were promised,
my act was simply taking them-nothing more.
I remember the long argument I had with my
friend; how at one moment I listened to him,
and turned from the apples as if they had been
puff-balls or bitter chestnuts; and then, the next,
forgot everything except the rosy cheeks,' and
' sweetwilliams,' and brown russets,' that glit-
tered in the sunshine : and when my friend
repeated his warning, I took my longing eyes off
the apples, and then the sun would again shine
on them, and I thrust my friend away on the
other side, and rushed headlong into the temp-
tation, reckless and careless. I am even now
ashamed to say how I stuffed and pocketed; and
how I hurried to my little room hastily, resolved
to outstep my friend and shut myself in, and
used every possible exertion of which my
strength was capable to bolt the door, which,
finding impossible, I sat down, not to eat or
even watch my apples, but to watch the door;
and presently, when my dear, tender, loving
mother came in, I pretended to be ill, and
asked leave to go to bed-thus one fault always
leads to another. How her dear, bright face
54 THE WHISPERER.
deepened into anxiety, and her eyes beamed
so lovingly down on mine that dared not meet
And when she looked round the room, I re-
member how I feared lest she should smell the
apples. She turned down the bed with her own
gentle hands, and laid me there. And now
really I became ill, between the quantity of
apples I had eaten, and terror lest my mother
should discover those that were concealed. I
longed to lay my cheek against hers, and tell
her the whole truth; but I could not, I was
terror and shame-stricken. I covered over my
head, and when her hand withdrew the sheet,
I 'foxed!' She had no sooner left me alone
than my friend entered, and overwhelmed me
with reproaches. Oh how hard they were to
bear And the more I felt their truth, the
deeper was my little heart harrowed So lowly
and softly did he speak, that no one present
could have heard a word he said, and yet every
sound was to me as the voice of_ a trumpet.
The sour apples did their work of pain also, but
that was as naught compared to the eternal
whispering of my true friend. The moonbeams
crept slowly through the trellis of my little
window, and chequered the bed with diamonds
of light. My mother so managed that each of us
had a bed of his own, but there were two beds
in each room. When my poor brother Richard
came in, I was on the very point of doing as the
THE WHISPERER. 55
Whisperer wished, and telling him all; but I
could not. When assured that he slept, I got up,
emptied my little purse upon the bed, counted
my store by moonlight, and was thrown into
despair when obliged to relinquish the comfort-
ing idea that I had sufficient money to pay the
old man for the apples. I had not above half
the necessary halfpence, and I had thrown away
the rest upon some gingerbread."
Cousin Jacob," said Aunt Tart, I think
you must have been very greedy."
Too true 1 My friend tried hard to show
me the evil and the crime, but I was greedy.
I wonder I outlived the quantity of miscella-
neous effects with which I used to crowd my un-
fortunate stomach; but you may depend upon
it that much of the sickness of after-life is
engendered by the way in which children-
boys especially-cram and are crammed. Yes,
I was decidedly greedy: the Whisperer often
told me so-I was greedy!
"I believe I might have slept; but my friend
loved me too well to permit me to sleep soundly
when I had done wrong. I remember dreaming
that while wandering by the sea-shore, all the
lobsters and crabs turned into crab-apples, and
pelted me ; and the Old Man of the Sea jumped
on my back, and suddenly I became aware that
he was the old gardener. Then I stood in the
presence of my father, who was really a magis-
trate, and I was accused of some dreadful fault;
56 THE WHISPERER.
and while there, a voice cried out, This comes
of apple stealing!' In the morning, my dear
mother discovered I was in a high fever; and
when the doctor came, he fixed his spectacles
firmly on his nose, and then looking above them,
while he held my wrist as in a vice, just pro-
nounced the word:
"'Now or never,' whispered my friend; and
I exclaimed, Sir, they are under the bed!'
"' I knew it,' he said with the utmost com-
My mother declared it was impossible;
that I had no means of obtaining apples; that
there were no apples in the house; and then,
circling my arms round her neck, and hiding
my burning face in her bosom, I told her the
whole truth, flung my little purse into her lap,
and said I would sacrifice all my pocket-money
until the debt to the old man was paid. Oh
how my friend patted me on the back, and how
often I repeated the little evening prayer I had
not courage to say the previous night, with -the
morning one-first one, and then the other ; and
though I felt so bitterly ashamed at taking back
the apples, which both my mother and my friend
insisted I should do "-
Ah !" interrupted Isabel, I know who
your Whisperer was, Cousin Jacob: it was-he
was-your mother Just the same as Aunt Tart
THE WHISPEREri. 57
-she used to keep for ever on, and on, when
we did anything wrong-just like that."
"Like what, most intelligent Isabella ? Your
shoulder, I perceive, is making the same inquiry
-popping up considerably above your dress.
What a spirit of investigation!"
There now, my shoulder is down, and
straight, and proper," said Isabella, blushing
and laughing. "But now, Cousin Jacob, was it
not your mother ?"
No, Isabella: don't you see," observed
Clementine, that it could not have been his
mother, because Cousin Jacob said she went
away when the other came: they could not
have been together !"
"Now you two girls are mystifying the
whole," said Edward rudely. Mystifying
and stupifying-confounding persons and Eng-
You are so conceited, brother !" exclaimed
both sisters at the same moment.
Hush-h-h !" said Miss Tart, extending her
hands in a supplicating attitude. Hush-h,
my beloved ones. Now, no quarrelling."
Indeed, aunt, it was not I; but these girls
are always so obstinate."
Not we, indeed, Cousin Jacob; but Edward
is so "
"So what ?" inquired Edward fiercely.
Oh, we do not want to quarrel !"
58 THE WHISPERER.
Now, Isabella Clementine you always
say that just as you are going to begin!"
Begin what, brother d"
Cousin Jacob would not permit another retort,
but ran on as fast as possible into a most ridi-
culous history, in which he mingled moonshine
and marbles; flying into a dissertation on moral
philosophy; an essay on good-manners, polite-
ness, moderation, and discretion; on the forbear-
ance and tenderness a brother owes his sister,
and the forbearance and tenderness the sister
owes the brother; concluding with illustrations
and examples of domestic love and felicity, as
practised by Master Edward and the Misses
Isabel and Clementine, who never looked dag-
gers at each other-never spoke rude words to
each other-never forgot that they, being chil-
dren of God, much less children of the same
parents, were bound to bear and forbear, and
sweeten the cup of life as it passed from lip
Now, Cousin Jacob," interrupted Miss Tart,
who sat twitching nervously at her gold chain,
" you have gone "
Only after these young folks' tempers, be-
lieve me," said the little old man with an
expression of countenance which, more than
even his words, recalled the young folk to a
consciousness of their rudeness to each other.
Yes ; I saw that these invaluable commo-
dities, these necessary ingredients for domestic
THE WHISPERER. 59
happiness-the three tempers of my invaluable
little friends-had disappeared in a whirlwind;
but now that they are come back again, I really
may continue "
Perhaps better not-better not," said Aunt
Tart doubtingly, and giving her chain a pull
which proved its strength. "You really, I must
say, Cousin Jacob, make it very complicated
and obscure; and as to myself, I have not the
most remote idea of what you mean. When
I was a girl, I had a very pretty-yes, and a
very quick-knack of making out riddles. I
made nothing of Humpy Dumpy;' I daresay
you remember how he sat on a wall: and I
could not have been ten when I guessed Go-
ing to St Ives' in three guesses! But this
'it,' this 'friend' of yours, is more perplex-
ing than A herring and a-half for fourpence,
how many for a penny ?' No, that is not
right," added dear, simple Miss Tart, while an
air of exceeding perplexity disturbed her kind
and innocent face--" no: well, it does not
much matter. You naughty things, I daresay
you know it very well, only you will not tell !"
The three young people laughed at Aunt
Tart's perplexity; and good-humour being per-
fectly restored by the good sense of Cousin
Jacob, who knew the blessing of silence when
the temper is irritated, the old gentleman in-
vited the young one to take a walk, while, as
60 TIM WHISPERER.
he said, the ladies attended to the little house-
hold matters, which, instead of being a trouble
to those whose minds are well regulated, form
one of the chief of woman's pleasures.
I wish, Cousin Jacob," said the boy, I
wish Aunt Tart was clever I"
What do you mean by clever ?" inquired
Why, I do not know exactly," he replied:
" I cannot quite tell; but it is being quick and
sharp, you know, and learned."
Quick, sharp, and learned," repeated the
old man. Oh, that is cleverness!-is it ?"
Yes, Cousin Jacob; I think so."
Well, I do not think your aunt is slow.'
She is an early riser, and everything she con-
trols is done in time, and at time. Sharp'-
that is to say, bitter, pointed, cunning, severe-
she is not certainly. Should you wish her to be
so ? Should you love her better if she were so ?
Do you think things would go on better for her
own health, spirits, or advantage, or for yours,
if Aunt Tart were sharp, bitter, pointed, cunning,
No, Cousin Jacob."
Well, learned.' Do you think it well for a
woman to be able to read both Latin and Greek,
and solve problems ?"
Edward laughed. No, cousin, that would
be a go; but I beg pardon-I did not mean to
use any slang, and I really do not know why I
TIE WHISPERER. 61
said that about aunt wanting cleverness: it was
very wicked of me."
Not at all, boy-not at all! It is the
fashion of the day to overvalue, particularly in
women, what is called cleverness, and to under-
value goodness. Miss Tart is simple, because
purely-minded. She is so truthful herself, that
she never suspects untruthfulness in others;
and her advice is always admirable; if you
and your sisters do not mind it, the fault is
yours, not hers; it is, moreover, given with an
earnestness and affection which make it, or
ought to make it, of double value, whereas it
only excites your mirth."
"But, cousin," suggested Edward, surely
you thought Aunt Tart did not manage us pro-
perly, or you would not have trotted us out so-
I mean, managed us differently-you know."
Seriously, my boy, I do not think Aunt
Tart managed you properly. If you had had the
good fortune to be under her management when
you were babies, she would have brought you
up without suffering you to have been conta-
minated by the carelessness and vulgarity you
have, unknowingly to yourselves, imbibed, and
which the straightforward nature of your loving
aunt did not know how to overcome. You had
not learned the first grand duty which a little
child owes its parents-UNREASONING OBEDIENCE!
You longed to reason, and to argue, and thought
it a grand thing to have a quick reply ready
62 THE WHISPERER.
at all times. As long as the answer was quick,
you imagined your aunt put down"-
No, cousin," said the boy; I never wished
to put her down-never thought it! I liked
to have an answer ready, I own; but indeed I
never saw her gentle, sweet face look pained
without being ashamed of myself."
Good !" muttered Cousin Jacob; that was
ve-ry good! She may puzzle over a herring
and a-half for three-halfpence; but she never
puzzles over the difference between right and
wrong, and never gave advice to you or your
sisters that was not for your advantage; and
it was only the excess of your bad bringing
up and vulgarity "- (Edward coloured up to
the very roots of the hair which clustered over
his forehead)-" that made you feel her whole-
some doctrines painful. She is almost every-
thing a woman ought to be It is the very ex-
cess of her goodness that makes her so anxious
about you! A bundle of plagues as you are!
-how any elderly maiden lady could be so self-
sacrificing as to immolate herself at such a
shrine, and devote her latter years to tame a
pair of Tomboys in petticoats, and admit a-
a-hobbledehoy during his holidays, I cannot
understand! And then the pert jackanapes
wishes she was clever !"
Cousin Jacob," said Edward, I wanted to
make a friend of you: you make me call you
cousin, though I am so much younger. You are
THE WHISPERER. 63
sometimes so good as to treat me better than I
deserve-always !-but sometimes like a real
friend; and when I used that unfortunate ex-
pression about Aunt Tart, it was because I was
going to open my heart to you. A fellow like
me, who has no brothers, picks up his friends at
school, and doesn't like, or understand how, to
tell an aunt everything. And as to sisters-
why, mine are such queer girls, they rather set
themselves against me than want my friendship.
I am sure it was, as you and Aunt Tart say,
wrong at first, and we must be great troubles to
aunty and you to set right; but I hope we shall
come so at last. Only, if you would let me
speak out from my heart frankly, and not take
me up short"-
Ah-ah !" exclaimed Cousin Jacob, rubbing
his hands gleefully, see there; he does not
like being taken up short, and yet he never
minded taking others up"-
The boy looked at his cousin. Ah, sir," he
said, I do indeed desire to do right in every
way. Indeed I do! And if you will be my
friend, I will not keep a thought hid away any-
where from you. I will let you see all-the bad
and the good together-only it does so cut
me, when I tell you what I really think, to be
laughed at I do not like that-I do not; and
I don't think it quite kind. I try to do as other
boys; and-and "-
The old friend of his own choosing clapped
64 THE WHISPERER.
him on the shoulder, and exclaimed, Out with
it Never keep in what you feel you ought to
let out-never do that; and never give a half-
What do you mean by a half-confidence,
When you tell anything to a friend, tell all
-or how can he give you advice, or judge of
the right or wrong of the case you put ? If you
say, Tom threw a stone at my dog, and broke
his leg,' you leave an impression that Tom is a
cruel boy; but if you say, Tom threw a stone
at my dog, and broke its leg, because I had
thrown stones at his dog before,' I should say
you provoked Tom, and have no complaint to
make, though you have proved yourselves un-
worthy, inasmuch as you attacked the poor
unoffending animals when you ought rather to
have attacked each other. But if you say that
Tom set on his dog at you in the first instance,
and you feared the dog, and endeavoured to
keep it off, then that alters the aspect of affairs
again; and- But you see now what I mean;
so, if you please, we will go back to the and-
and;' and the propensity, by no means peculiar
to you-to do as others do, without considering
whether it be wrong or right. We all more or
less go on, like turnspits on the wheel, or horses
in a mill, or carriages in the Hyde Park drive,
or sheep on a common. Fashion or custom sets
up a leader, and then we all play at Follow my
THE WHISPERER. 65
leader' until fashion pushes some one else to
the point of distinction, and then we desert the
old, and adopt the new in the same unreasoning
manner. Now, my boy, the and-and'"-
You will laugh at me ?"
I will not laugh at you, Ned, unless I think
it the best way of curing you of absurdities or
bad habits. There are some faults too trivial
to be reasoned against, and yet they are so
much in the way of a young person's appear-
ance or advancement, that the best way is to
set them before him in the ridiculous light in
which they appear to others : but those who
cannot bear to be laughed at, do not of course
laugh at others."
That's the thing-the very thing, Cousin
Jacob," exclaimed Edward earnestly-" the and
-and-I am really ashamed-quite ashamed
to own it; but it was-just-you see-that
-I do not-and that is the whole truth-I
Cousin Jacob, when he was listening to any-
thing in particular, had a habit of pausing in
his walk, folding his arms, and pitching himself
forward on his toes, and backwards on his heels,
performing a see-saw movement, which always
excited Edward's risibility; and when he glanced
at him while speaking, he could hardly refrain
laughing. The old gentleman's quick eye
caught the expression in a moment, and he said,
" Laugh, my boy! It is very absurd to see an
66 THE WHISPERER.
old man playing a sort of shuttlecock with him-
self. If I had been rallied out of this trick
when a boy, it would have been the better for
me. Now for your And, and'"-
Only that I do not like to be laughed at,
Cousin Jacob, that's all," exclaimed poor Ed-
ward with a great effort. I can endure any-
thing better-I know I can-anything better
than being turned into ridicule ; and apt as
you are to laugh at me, I do not think you
would do it if you knew the pain it gives
me; the intense pain," he added, while tears
gathered around his eyes, and trembled on
their lids. I dare not own this to the fellows
at school-I mean to say my schoolfellows. I
always brazen it out, and say I don't mind a
bit; but I do. If you are so good as to tell me
my faults without laughing at them, I will en-
deavour to correct them, and I hope succeed.
Do not laugh at me, Cousin Jacob," continued
the boy so piteously, that the old man would
not have laughed at him for the world.
Well, Edward," he said, I confess it is
better, more manly and wise, to endeavour to
reason you out of your faults ; but seeing how
little reason had hitherto done for you, I was
inclined to try the other course; and I will
only make this bargain with you, 'If I do not
laugh at you, you must not laugh at others "
Edward's face grew bright, and his eyes
sparkled, and a beaming smile played over his
THE WHISPERER. 67
features, and he really looked grateful and
I will watch myself, and never give way to
a habit which has caused me so much pain. I
never do turn people into ridicule that I do not
feel something like a twitch' near or at my
heart-something that gives me a pull; and it
is very odd, if I persevere, I am never comfort-
able after that."
Ah, ah !-good sign-very good sign!" mut-
tered Cousin Jacob. Those Whisperers are
capital fellows-more common in some families
than in others. Whoever they take to is pretty
certain to do well in the end."
Edward was so delighted at his cousin's pro-
mise, that his full, frank, boy's heart poured
forth much that could not be very interesting to
his aged companion: at least so anybody else
would have thought; but to Cousin Jacob, who,
shrivelled and withered up as he looked, had still
a genial heart and a remembrance of his own
boyish days, and, moreover, a remembrance of the
childhood of his own children, and could recall
how they grew up, some with more faults than
others, but all with frank, open natures-there
was something soothing and refreshing in the
companionship of the ardent, high-spirited youth,
which made him enjoy a walk through the woods
more than he had done for a very long time;
and Edward listened, with the devoted attention
of one who is eager to obtain information, to all
68 THE WHISPERER.
the old man told of the far-distant countries
where some of his youthful years had been
spent. He told him of the wide savannas, and
wild horses, and shaggy buffaloes of the American
prairies, and promised to lend him some books
where these were well described: and he told
him of the beauties and glories of old Rome, and
made him bring his classical knowledge to illus-
trate the present by a reference to the past.
And when they discovered the opening to the
humble bees' dwelling in the bank, and noted
how the creatures buzzed up to it, and then
entered in a sober and sagacious manner, their
pouches stored with honey, and their legs laden
with the farina of the flowers, heavy, hard-
working fellows, sounding their wings against
the resisting air, as they boomed along, and
then, after sundry dustings and shakings, ad-
vancing into their castle, Edward was proud
enough of quoting from the Georgics of Virgil;
and, if truth must be told, it gladdened the
elderly heart of Cousin Jacob to hear the
favourite poem of his own early days repeated
in the boy's young musical voice; and he took
up the theme, and they continued quoting
Latin together in a most surprising manner:
and then they conversed about natural history,
and Edward was delighted at the interest his
friend took in birds and animals-and the
migration of birds, their comings and goings,
and their probable conversations on the house-
THE WHISPERER. 69
tops and tree-tops, seemed an inexhaustible
subject of conversation to the old and young
cousins; and at last, fatigued with heat and
exercise, they sat down on a bank, and Edward,
fearing the grass was damp, ran into a neigh-
bouring stackyard, and was just going to carry
his arms full of straw to lay upon the grass,
so as to form a dry seat for Cousin Jacob, when
it occurred to him he had no right to take the
straw without the farmer's leave. This did
not suggest itself until his arms were filled.
There is no one to ask," said Edward.
Seek some one," came to the boy's ear as
clearly as if it had been spoken.
Edward let the straw fall, and looked all
around him. The smoke curled in a soft, gray
vapour from the distant farm-house, seen as it
was through a broken vista of hay and corn-
stacks, and huge piles of firewood, and queer
sheds, supported by stone pillars and old brown
crossed beams, and Edward thought what a
pretty picture it would make. There was a
shallow pond, large enough to be called a lake
out of a lake-country, and it was the most
animated part of the scene.
A pair of very steady geese-goose and gan-
der-who considered the pond in every respect
their property, to have and to hold for them-
selves and their progeny, were sailing stiffly and
statelily (for geese) in the midst of an almost
countless generation of half-grown-up geese, and
70 THE WHIISPERER.
soft, yellow, puffy goslings-the gander moving
about them with a protecting air, and hissing
every now and then, as he elongated his neck;
not that there was anything to hiss at, but he
seemed to think it desirable to show his autho-
rity and fatherly patronage; while his grand-
mother-wife followed in his wake, content with
giving an affectionate poke on to a weak gos-
ling, or gee-geeing, in rather a hoarse voice, to
her numerous descendants. In a little far-away
nook, a sort of bay in the pond, a full-feathered,
rustling hen was exerting all her eloquence to
persuade her undutiful ducklings to leave the
water. The poor thing paced backwards and
forwards along the margin of the pond, now
wetting the tips of her toes, then drawing
hastily back in terror of the element, which she
believed would swallow up her offspring, after
all her patient hatching and impatient remon-
strances. The barn-roofs were dotted with
pigeons; and anxious as Edward was about the
straw, his quick eye dwelt for a moment upon a
superb black horseman, who far surpassed the
rest as he spread out his feathers and arched
his neck in the sun. The longer he gazed, the
more distinct and interesting would the denizens
of that extensive farmyard have become. The
very lady-pig, and her rustling, bustling piglings,
and their twisted tails, seemed placed in the
most picturesque, because most natural and
THE WHISPERER. 71
"Aunt Tart told me I was to take care
Cousin Jacob did not catch cold, he was so sub-
ject to spasms," thought Edward as he stooped
towards the shining straw. He hardly knew
why, but he again withdrew, and turned round
the stackyard corner to go towards the farm,
resolved to find "some one." As he did so,
who should stand before him but a burly farmer,
stout and thick-set, poising a thorn-stick in his
bony hand; but Edward did not feel afraid of
him or his stick, but walked up, and looking
him straight in the face with honest eyes, he
"If you please, sir, I wanted a little straw
to put under yonder old gentleman, who will
sit on the damp grass; and if he catches cold,
he will be very ill, and my aunt very angry. I
was going to take the straw, as I could not see
any of whom to ask it; and I must say," added
Edward, growing suddenly scarlet, as if he had
just read the expression of the man's face
aright, "that it would have been better for you
to have come forward at once, than to have
stood watching there, as if I was going to steal
And will thee tell 'un, young highflyer, if
thee takes what isn't thine, without leave or
liberty of the owner of her, what d'ye please to
call 'un ?"
This strange English was, however, perfectly
72 THE WHISPERER.
intelligible to the Eton boy; and waiving the
argument, he simply said-
"Will you give me a little straw for the
purpose I told you ?"
"Thot I will, and a blessin' with 'un; but I
watched thee, for I thought I should ha' cotched
thee. I saw thee take it up, and I said, Gi'e it
him, Martin-(Martin is me-Joe Martin; that's
myself, you understand, of Huckleback Farm,
Grimshackle; that's where you be at this pre-
sent)-gi'e it him well, for there's no end to the
lads who come here, taking first one thing, then
another, imposing upon my nature: they all
know me. So I thought I'd joost watch like,
an' if thee'd a took 'un, wouldn't I ha' banged
at 'ee, that's all!" And after shaking his stick
with a good-humoured laugh at the lad, he filled
his arms with the straw. Now, that's done,
and thee's welcome;, but hark'ee, young master,
did 'ee never hear of a chap called the Whis-
"Yes, that I have," answered Edward. "Do
you know him ?"
"Know him I've known many in my time,
and precious friends they be, the whole tribe on
'em. Oh, it's a fine sign when they coom of
themselves, and mayhap when you don't want
them-thoomp! thoomp harder and harder
will they knock-the harder the better. It's
wonderful, too, the pains mine always took
about small things Bless 'ee, he'd make as
THE WHISPERER. 73
much foos about what we country lads call a
' white lie,' as many would make aboot a black
one, and kick up as sore work aboot a neigh-
bour's apple that was not my own, as if it was a
bank-note; and I can't but say he was in the
right on't-that he was! For if you look at
the beginning of anything, see how small it is.
Why, grandfeyther minds when that oak was
an acorn: there was a small beginning! But
look'ee at this, young gentleman, and think on
it: if there had been any decay in the acorn,
there would have been no oak; so the Whis-
perer was right when he thoomped me for a
bad beginning. People say, pardon the first
fault; but I say, PUNISH the first fault, and
you'll have no second-that's what I say! I
say there should be no pardon or parley with
punishment for a first fault. There, run, my
little man, and ask your friend what he thinks
of the Whisperer. Thee's a good lad not to
have took even the straw without leave; I'd
have thoomped thee all the more for being a
gentleman, because thee ought to know better.
Some think that with a fine coat on their back
they may do what they please in a farmyard;
but the farmer's yard be as much his own as
the gentleman's hall be his; and the best way,
you see, to have our own property respected, be
that property a bat, a ball, or a building, is to
respect the property of others. Good-day to
74 THE WHISPERER.
Edward felt sorely perplexed by the farmer
and his eloquence, and its diversity amused him
not a little. "How he jumped," thought Ed-
ward, as he himself jumped over the little
stream which fed the great farm-pond, and pre-
vented its being stagnant water "how he
jumped from the Whisperer into an oak-tree,
and from the oak-tree back into Huckleback
Farm, then cut at my gentility, then said some-
thing quite new about first faults, and I do
think he was right there-it's so natural to a
fellow, if he's let off easy once, to try it on
Edward succeeded in obliging Cousin Jacob
to permit the straw to be spread, or "lumped"
rather, into a seat; and it was a well-chosen
spot to rest in after a woodland ramble. The
farm was to the left, on the opposite side of the
road; but the elm-tree beneath whose shadow
they reposed was knotted, and gnarled, and
hollowed, affording food and shelter to thou-
sands of seen and unseen creatures-from the
long-backed earwig, whose eloquent forceps cry
"beware" to many wandering fingers, to the
wondrous atoms whose universe is no larger
than the triune leaf of the wood-sorrel, or the
blade of grass which bows to every passing
I was thinking," said Cousin Jacob, even
while watching the outposts of that ant-hill, I
was thinking how wise your aunt was in bring-
THE WHISPERER. 75
ing your sisters to finish their education at a
little distance from the metropolis, instead of
taking them into its very heart, where their
minds would become distracted by a variety of
objects before their bad habits were overcome;
and then how good for you, after your bustling
school, to come to the quiet, the enjoyment,
the pure air, and happiness of such scenes as
these By and by, there will be time enough
for the play, the Opera, the drive, and all the
active and yet enervating amusements of fa-
shionable life Make yourself strong against
the wear and tear of London life, which I heard
you tell your sister you should rush into some
day," added Cousin Jacob bitterly. You
often put me in mind of one dear boy whom I
lost in its vortex, and I gave him the same
advice I shall give you when the time comes;
but he perished-he perished for all that-
broken in health, in mind, in character, in
But surely," said Edward, who, to confess
the truth, would much rather have spent his
holidays in London, he need not have done
that: all the pleasures of life may be enjoyed
True-true spoken like a Solon, Ned-
like a very Solon!" replied Cousin Jacob, look-
ing up cheerfully again. But that very mo-
deration is the one thing as difficult to find
as to keep It is indeed a treasure past all
76 THE WHISPERER.
price. The jewel of life, if set in moderation,
will retain its beauty and its utility double the
time it usually does: it is alike the guardian
of youth and age, the vanguard of worldly
wisdom, the safeguard of worldly pleasure.
It prevents us from going too fast, and insures
health, and cheerfulness, and length of days.
Moderation is man's best counsellor."
I thought the Whisperer," put in Edward
slyly-" I thought the Whisperer was man's
best counsellor ?"
I never knew a Whisperer who did not go
hand-in-hand with Moderation," answered Cousin
Jacob; ay, you may look as cunning as you
please, but the Whisperer has saved thousands
from destruction, and"-
I am not certain but Cousin Jacob might
have continued, and even introduced Edward
to the Whisperer, then and there, were it not
that suddenly their attention was attracted by
a hawk rising in pursuit of a lark, which a few
moments before had been filling the little dell,
which was overhung by the old elm, with the
purest melody. The lark soared higher and
higher, the hawk endeavouring, with strong
and rapid wing, to get above it. The contest
was fearfully unequal.
If I had but a gun," exclaimed Edward,
" I would soon bring the villain down !"
What a world it is!" moralised Cousin
Jacob. When the bird's heart was fullest of
THE WHISPERER. 77
joy, and its little home in sight- But my
eyes are dazzled. Has he got above her yet ?"
Bang went a gun from the other side of that
hide-away old elm, and almost at the same
moment Edward tossed his cap in the air, and
gave such a shout; while the hawk struck
ere he could strike-struggled and tumbled
over and over, until he lay a crumpled, mangled
heap of feathered mischief, not ten yards from
where they had observed the lark to rise and
Thee'll have no more larks over my corn, I
promise thee, thou wicked old chicken-hoister,"
exclaimed Ned's farmer-friend. I do loove to
get a good shot at thee, when thou thinkest
nought but of thy prey, thou hedge-row thief-
thou cowardly butcher-thou pitiful sneak If
thee'd fight fair, and thy fellow, I'd maybe let
thee bide; but a father-bird above his nest-
a wee larkie !-with little wit and less strength.
I'm glad I hit so fair, old hunt-the-hedge! I
do so hate them hawks; they're just like attor-
neys, or hornets, or adders. I'm right glad I
shot 'un; and I'm glad the bird lives to bring
up its young family: Callow brood,' as the
hymn calls 'un."
You're a good shot, sir," said Cousin Jacob,
as much amused as Edward at the farmer's
Ees, sir, I be, thank'ee, a prime shot; and
78 TRE WHISPERER.
a first-rate hand at cricket. It would be mock-
modesty not to own it. Every man knows if
he's got'n a straight eye, and a strong pair of
arms and hands-blessings both, and not to be
denied! They're gifts from the Almighty,
not depending upon tailors, or shoemakers, or
hatters They're Mother Nature's keepsakes,
not to be despised! I don't go for to say them
hands would look neat under a ruffle, such as I
see in a lord's picture once. You may laugh at
that, young master. Poor, hard-working honest
labourers," he added, holding up his enormous
hands-and furrowed, and chopped, and crossed
enough to puzzle all the fortune-telling gipsies
in the land-but nevertheless he eyed them
with a laughable affection and tenderness-
" it's wonderful what a deal they've got through
in their time," he said, spreading out each
finger, and turning them over, without heeding
the laughing eyes of Edward, or the half-
amused, half-reproving glances cast upon him
from the little twinkling orbs of Cousin Jacob.
" It's joost wonderful what they've done, them
two hands, and it's more than curio's. It's a
foine lesson to think what hard-working honest
bones can get through, if they'll only try. Ah,
lad-lad!" he continued, addressing the young
gentleman, I began life, me and my missus,
hedgers and ditchers, huers of wood and
drawers of water'-mere bondsmen, I may say
-and then hay-making, weeding, turniping,
THE WHISPERER. 79
anything; for you see we loved each other truly,
and shared labour together, and never felt it
a hardship either, for we were both bouncing
strong. We had no children, and we went
a-field together, and returned home together-
she having the hardest of it-for when a man's
day's work is done, whoy, it is done, and he
looks to rest; but the poor woman, after what's
called the day's work is done, must provide for
the morrow-that's how I look on't; and she'd
never sit down for two good hours after six, and
find some contrivance all the time to keep me
quiet, saying, Woman's work was no man's
"You used to read, I suppose?" said Ed-
"Nae, nae; we had nae education: that's
come since. And when I see the new spirit
that's come wie'it-the landlords and masters
taking to their tenants and labourers, and look-
ing to their comforts, and educating their chil-
dren, and trying to draw them oop, oop, in all
usefulness-I feel it all right, and cause of
thankfulness. Though still, I say- Steady!
hauld firm and steady both The farmer mustn't
expeck that his head, if it be as tight packt
as an egg, can work without hands. Heads is
oop these times, but hands must still be doing,
and not down. It would be a droll world if the
hands struck, and refused to do heads' bidding.
But to go back to reading:-I knew my letters,
80 THE WHISPERER.
and could read Smith, Brown, and Robinson, in
the old-fashioned spelling-book, and the Ser-
mon on the Mount,' and much beside in Testa-
ment. But my missus always would have it
that I had 'em by heart, and would puzzle me
on the print. She gave me a new place to
read, while I kept on at the old thing: and
still the old thing was so good, that we found
new satisfaction in it every day. But we got on
somehow. Well, sirs, as I say, we got on, and got
on; and a queer but kind little gentleman in
Suffolk let me a little house and a bit of land,
and proud I was to work my own stocking into
it; and somehow every ear of corn had an es-
pecial blessing, and brought forth tenfold above
others' wheat or barley. The memory o' those
days makes me love the larks, for they used
to call us oop regular on summers' mornings;
and many a time, seeing how they mounted to
the heavens, carried my thoughts along wi'
'un. It's wonderful how the song of a bird,
sirs, can stir the heart. Ah, that was a freck-
some little gentleman who let us our first land !
' You'll be a rich farmer yet,' he'd say; that
you will!' But he went away, and I left the
county, and came here-he saved me, too, once
by a bit of advice, he did; and I should like
him to know the good that did me. But it's no
matter to him, though the help and advice was
everything to me at that time, standing as I
did in the way of sore temptation. And it was
THE WHISPERER. 81
a simple thing, and in every one's power, if
they'd only moind it."
Ay, ay," said Cousin Jacob, and his usually
rigid and severe features relaxed, and a smile
so bright and natural illumined his features-
" ay, ay," he repeated, he told you-to listen
to the Whisp)erer."
"He joost did!" replied the burly farmer,
turning with the rapidity of a greyhound. He
joost did, sir But how did thee know that ?"
Don't you know me inquired Cousin
"I see autumn and spring so often, that I
forget faces," replied the farmer after an anxious
gaze; and yet I ought to know thee too."
"I am more changed than you are, Joe
Martin, certainly, but I think you might re-
Whoy, be it possible ?-- r Jacob, sir !" And
his eyes glittered; his face seemed to enlarge.
With one hand he lifted off his hat, while half-
shyly he extended the other to Cousin Jacob,
who took as much of it as his could contain
with evident pleasure.
The farmer and the gentleman were both
agitated. The former had become a rich and
happy man in his estate; the latter, though
more wealthy than he had ever desired to be,
had lost nearly all he loved best in the world
by death. And had it not been for the ready
sympathy he still felt with the young, his
82 THE WHISPERER.
anxiety for their welldoing, and his desire to
assist those who needed, Cousin Jacob must
have been very unhappy; but no one, believe
me, my young friends, is ever permanently un-
happy who opens his heart to the necessities of
his fellow-creatures. It is only the cold and
the sulky who continue to be miserable when
God gives the power of usefulness, which is the
seed of all happiness. Trust me that I tell you
truly when I tell you, as I have often done
before, that to be useful in our sphere, and
according to our means, is to be in the high
road to happiness. Cousin Jacob was not useful
in an ordinary, straightforward fashion: he was
odd, and peculiar, and, as you well know
already, not particularly winning or soft in his
manner: he was apt to forget that the same
Scripture which tells us to be "pitiful," tells us
also to be courteous;" but his heart was full
of real kindness; and he thrilled with positive
pleasure when the farmer had, unconscious of
his presence, acknowledged the kindness he
had shown him nearly thirty years before. We
must not anticipate gratitude, but meet it with
a cordial greeting when it comes.
And be this lad one of thy sons, Mr Jacob ?
Laws me, how I forget time!-grandsons, I
suppose? No! And the young mistress-but
maybe she's gray-haired now? What!-gone?
She was such a pretty bride .We used to say,
though thee was a little gentleman, thee had
THE WHISPERER. 83
the fairest lady in the land to wife. I ask your
pardon, sir," he said, seeing that all traces of
pleasure had faded from Cousin Jacob's face;
" I'm all wrong-I could not mean to give thee
pain-I see thot. I'll forget the past: but noa,
I can't: I owe everything I have in the world
to thy goodness and thy counsel, and I'm so
happy, I must have a shout an' I die for it !"
And so saying, to relieve his emotion with some
strong and unusual effort, he tossed his hat in
the air, and gave so loud an "huzza!" adding,
" One cheer more!" that his own farm-dogs
answered by a volley of "barks;" and the farm
donkeys brayed; the geese cackled; the cocks
crowed; the turkey-cock raised his great fan-tail
and gobbled; the guinea-fowl flew on the ricks
and screamed, as if they expected a hail-storm;
the sheep on the hill-side left their bite," and
looked sillily about, as such creatures always do
when astonished by a new noise; and presently
a remarkably clean cap was seen bobbing along
the inside of the garden-railing. The farmer
caught sight of the cap, and after exclaiming,
" There she is !" put his hand to his cheek, as
huntsmen do when they want those far off to
hear them, and roared, Come on, Cicely;
thee little knows what's afore thee !"
"I shouldn't wonder, Mr Jacob," added the
farmer, if thee know'd me by my scholarship :
thee used to say I was the best man on the land,
and spoke the worst English!" Cousin Jacob and
84 THE WHISPERER.
Edward laughed at this. The farmer's bad Eng-
lish had disposed the youth to treat him with
contempt; but it was impossible for this disposi-
tion to continue; his honest frankness, his over-
flowing gratitude towards Cousin Jacob, his strong
natural good sense, his uprightness of purpose-
all commanded respect. His wife was as overjoyed
as her husband had been to see the friend of
their early days. The young do not know how
rapidly time flies, nor can they tell how his
noiseless feet trample and decay whatever they
rest upon. Dame Cicely did not perceive the
change in her husband, because it had come gra-
dually; but it struck her so forcibly in Cousin
Jacob, that, as they all walked towards the
farmhouse, which, to confess the truth, Cousin
Jacob was as anxious to see as the farmer to
show, she kept stealing sly glances at him, and
muttering to herself, "Dear-lack- a-daisy-me-
now! why, he used to be such a very dapper
little gentleman, with such an upright carriage,
that he looked a very king-dear, kind heart !
Well, how some people do change But there's
my Joe! he's no changed. The white hair is
more comely than the red; and the parson says
to me, Ah, there's no need for Joe to powder!'
It is mighty queer-but a blessing-how my
husband keeps so young !"
There was much to be seen at the farm, and
the grateful hearted creatures were so de-
lighted to trace all their good fortune back to
THE WIIISPERER. 85
" Mr Jacob," who was obliged to taste cream
and cheese, "humming ale," and honey, and
elderberry and gooseberry wine, and unnamed
cakes, and promise to accept some eggs and a
" roasting pig ;" and go to the byre to see the
cows; and to stables worthy of a palace, to see
the fine, fat, dappled plough-horses; and hear
all about the lambs, and sleeky, sleepy calves;
the multitudes of chickens and ducks ; and be
introduced to the farmer's grandchildren.
But," suggested Edward, I thought you
had no children ?"
"Nor had we, young sir," replied the woman;
" but other people had; and we have placed
many an orphan out in the world that never
knew the want of either father or mother, since
God sent them to us, or us to them; and they
have had great crops of children, who make
mirth and sunshine in the farm, and call us
SGranddad' and Grandmam !' "
Never took to one of them," put in the far-
mer, "but by the advice of the Whisperer. Long
ago he used to counsel me against my own
wishes, and we had brave tussels together; but
now we jog on together, all harmony." The far-
mer showed his ricks, and barns, and thrashing-
machines, and told of his mill, and his acres of
oats, and wheat, barley, and mangel-wurzel, and
meadows of the finest hay, and would fain have
marched them over the ground all in his own
hands; and it was pleasant to see the good un-
86 THE WHISPERER.
derstanding which existed between the farmer
and his farm-servants. The very horses poked
their noses at Dame Cicely's pocket-hole for
apples. And then the beautiful farm-garden !
never were roses and honeysuckle so rampant
and abundant in blossom and perfume; never
were there such bushes of lavender and sweet
hyssop, and rosemary, with rue planted as a
moral beside it; never such forests of rasp-
berries, and such apple-trees! Such piles of
beehives, and beds of mignionette, hedged in
with flaunting sweetwilliams and close carna-
tions, sheltered by solemn-looking hedgerows of
holly and clipt yew.
And when poor Cousin Jacob thought there
could be nothing more to see, and felt really
overpowered by the good people's gratitude, and
the multitude of long-buried thoughts and feel-
ings which they all unintentionally conjured up
around him, the one whispered the other, and
the wife said, "Do ;" and the husband replied,
" It's your foolishness, Cicely;" and she urged
the more strongly, and at last had her way;
and so led to a garden-shed, the door of which
she unlocked, and they found themselves in
the midst of all kinds of implements of hus-
bandry; and Edward began to be aware that
though their host spoke a provincial lingo-
which at first made him laugh, but afterwards
caused him to think that perhaps it was not
more incomprehensible or reprehensible than the
THE WHISPERER. 87
vulgar stable-slang which he had indulged in
from pure affectation-the farmer had acquired
real and substantial knowledge of the art whose
origin could be traced to the Garden of Eden,
and which inspired some of our oldest and finest
He described the uses of various tools of hus-
bandry, and the improvement made in modern
times, so as to lessen labour and increase profit;
and though he did not pronounce the words, as
he said himself, quite dictionary," he showed
that he understood the chemical workings of the
substances which enrich the earth, and how to
make the best use of them.
Now!" said Dame Cicely.
Ay do," answered the farmer; thou'lt not
be happy else."
Then Dame Cicely, with great formality, un-
locked a closet, which her visitors had not pre-
viously perceived, and Edward looked anxiously
into it, expecting to see the most wonderful
wonder of all wonders; but he drew back some-
what disappointed, and turned to the dame for
explanation. The cupboard contained two old
worn-out hoes, and two old dibbles, and a pair
of old hedging-gloves and reaping-hooks, an old
scythe and whetstone, two old hayforks, and
sundry worn-out choppers.
These are her fancy," said the farmer;
these were our first tools-our first steps in
loife, I may call 'un. When we married, these
88 THE WHISPERER.
few bits of old iron were our stock in trade;
them, and the WILLINGNESS TO USE THEM We
went a-field with them together, until we got a
sort of liking for the made-up things ; and when
it pleased GoD to prosper us, we thought we'd
lay 'um by, as a reminder of what we had been,
and what we had done; for there is a great dif-
ference between a day-labourer and a farmer-
more, like, than between a poor commoner and
a great lord."
And I'll not deny," added Dame Cicely,
" that them tools have been good friends to me,
perhaps better in my prosperity than in my
." We never had 'adversity,' wife. Adversity,
I take it, is a knock-'em-down thing, that comes
when people that have been oop are down. In
our poverty,' you might say: and yet we never
were poor !-we had enough to eat, to drink
(thanks to the bright water that dances from
the earth), to wear, and a little to give-that
ain't poverty ?"
Then what am I to call it ?" inquired the
"Joost what thee likes," replied the farmer,
who had puzzled himself.
"I only mean to say," continued Dame Cicely,
that in our prosperity, when I've felt offended
that the 'squire's lady carried her head too high
towards me, or I wanted too gay a silk-gown, or
was inclined to look down on any struggling
THE WHISPERER. 89
body that came in my way, and turn my nose a
little too high because of their poverty "-
You're never inclined to do that, Cicely !"
said her husband kindly.
Nay, but I am. I often feel pride working
within me," she replied-" too often; and then
I come and turn over the tools; and every one
is like an open book, and reads me a lesson
against pride : for why may not those who use
the same as that dibble or reaping-hook now be
as we are this day; and better, because they will
have education ?"
"Well," said Cousin Jacob, "we may read
things with a difference. I think, if I had
grown rich after your fashion, those tools would
make me proud."
"We have nothing to be proud of, so to say,
in this world," said Cicely as she replaced the
tools, and wrapped the old trowel up in a piece
of flannel, as if, as Edward said, "it was a
baby;" "but a great deal to thank God for."
You do right, madam," observed Cousin
Jacob; "you do very right to preserve those
memorials of industry and exertion. They are
pleasant to look upon, as evidences of God's
goodness: pleasant, as proofs of what can be
accomplished without education or money by
sheer, honest, English labour: pleasant, for they
tell (and here Cousin Jacob's voice faltered) of
the number of years God has spared you to-
gether: pleasant, as keeping down PRIDE, when
90 THE WHISPERER.
it rises too highly in your heart: pleasant and
right, in teaching you to RESPECT YOURSELVES ;
for these are evidences of what you were, and all
around bear evidence of what you ARE !"
"I call that as good as a sarmin," said the
farmer; and that bill-hook, too, is pleasant, sir,
for it reminds me of a great breach I had once
with the Whisperer. Ay, young master, it's
as true as my head is a fixture, and I'll tell it
At this moment a half dog-cart half taxed-
cart was driven up to the door by a rough-and-
ready-looking lad, whose odd mixture of finery
and indications of labour were strangely mingled
together-a black beaver Sunday hat" ill ac-
cording with a smock-frock. The horse quickly at-
tracted Edward's attention. It was a bright bay,
with black legs and tail: its legs were straight
and firm; its shoulder large; its head and ears
small; its nostrils full, but rather too movable; and
its eyes-they were full of fire and expression-
quite a treat to look at! Edward was delighted.
The farmer, with many apologies, hoped the
gentlemen would not be offended; but he thought
Mr Jacob would do him the honour" to go in
his shay," just as a kindness to him; and as
it was coming on to rain," he thought he
wouldn't mind it. The horse was like the
wind, and gentle too ;" and the end was, that
Cousin Jacob and Edward allowed themselves
to be driven homeward by the farmer's boy.
THE WHISPERER. 91
Edward praised the horse-who could help it?
-but he hinted to Cousin Jacob that the turn-
out" was not quite the thing. Cousin Jacob gave
a sort of grunt in reply.
"It's a noble animal !" repeated Edward;
"but the turn-out is so queer !"
"I am sorry you are uncomfortable," said
I never was more comfortable, cousin."
"Then perhaps you are afraid of the horse ?"
suggested the old gentleman.
Me-afraid of a horse !" exclaimed Edward,
growing very red; and then, to show he was
not afraid, he attempted to snatch the reins
out of the driver's hand. The youth would not
"Just give me the ribbons for five minutes,"
pleaded young master.
I never got no ribbons since last election,"
replied the boy, "when we all mounted true
blue. My! but that was a gay time! You
should ha' seen our shay then! and knots as big
as your head over the horse's winkers. My!
master never spared the ribbons But I ha'
none now; my little sister Anne got the last
for her babiess"
"Let me drive."
Na, na-that's contrary to rules. Whoever
drives out drives whom, and no swolps; and,
Lord love you, young sir, you could no more
hold this beast nor-nothing He'd know the
92 THE WHISPERER.
difference in a minute between your driving and
mine. I see by the way you flicks the flys-so
playful-that Black Jock would sneeze at you,
or run you on a bank in no time."
"Run me on a bank !" repeated Edward
indignantly; "I should like to see the horse
that could do that !"
"I'd rather not," observed Cousin Jacob.
"Why, the Windsor coachman often gives me
his ribbons-I mean reins," persisted Edward
in a triumphant tone.
When the horses are changing, I suppose ?"
replied the old gentleman. "Even that is not
very prudent. I knew a lady who upset a
pony phaeton when the ponies were standing
This sarcasm had not the desired effect. Ed-
ward grasped the reins from the astonished boy,
and exclaiming, Run me on a bank !" shook
The farmer's servant stuck bravely to his
duty. He tried to get the reins again into his
keeping, but the horse had broken into a
gallop. The two youths endeavoured to restrain
him, but in vain. The farm-boy became very
red, Edward very pale, while Cousin Jacob held
fast with both hands. Guide him !" shouted
the old gentleman. "All you can do now is to
The horse had what is called a good
mouth "-that is to say, he felt every touch,
THE WHISPERER. 93
every movement of the finger, and consequently
was the more disposed to resent the furious tugs
which the really terrified Edward gave the reins.
The affair was now becoming serious. Cousin
Jacob and Edward were so greatly interested in
the farmer and the farm, that they had not
heeded the gathering storm, which the farmer
had endeavoured to provide against by sending
them, as he intended, swiftly home: this good
intention, like many other good intentions in
the world, was frustrated by the self-conceit and
impetuosity of a self-willed boy. There was one
very dangerous pass in the road-a shelving
bank on one side, and a rugged declivity on the
other terminating in a chalk-pit. If the horse
swerved to either side, the upsetting of the
trio seemed inevitable. A railing, placed for the
protection of travellers, had been shattered the
previous day by a huge cart-wheel; and though
a carpenter had been employed to mend it, the
work was only half-done, and about thirty feet
of the perilous path remained without any pro-
tection. The clouds gathered in dark masses,
huge drops of rain struck upon their hats at
lessening intervals, and more than one flash of
lightning had zig-zagged through the air. The
heavy-looking farmer's boy stood up and in-
treated Edward to give the reins to him; but ter-
ror or obstinacy-perhaps both-had effectually
bewildered the young gentleman, and he tore
away at the unfortunate horse's head, causing
94 THE WHISPERER.
him to swerve like a pendulum, now one way,
then another, while he rushed wildly forward.
If Cousin Jacob had been younger or stronger
he would have acted-he would have done some-
thing to avert destruction; but his body had
been over-fatigued by exercise, and his mind
unnerved by seeing the farmer, who recalled so
vividly those whom he had loved and lost since
their last, long-ago meeting ; moreover, he was
sitting behind the two boys, and thus the great
peril of the pass was concealed from his obser-
vation: the rain, too, which during the previous
minute poured furiously down-as a little child
I know and love once said, "to wash away
the lightning "-was blown in Cousin Jacob's
face the moment he attempted to look on one
side or the other. When Edward saw the fear-
ful gulf, made still more terrible by the rush of
the storm, which appeared to make it a sort of
sporting-ground, to dash its torrents and its
lightning into, instead of giving the horse its
head, and guiding it with a light firm hand, he
endeavoured to rein it up, which threw it on its
haunches, and then it plunged desperately for-
ward. The heavy, loutish-looking boy, whom,
to say the truth, Edward did not like to sit be-
side, now proved that he was worthy of the trust
his master reposed in him.
Seizing the reins firmly with one hand, with
the other he dealt Edward so decided a blow,
that he fell at his feet, stunned only for a mi-
THE WHISPERER. 95
nute; but that minute enabled him to seize the
reins he had intreated for in vain, and steer the
horse safely beyond danger. Cousin Jacob saw
the blow and its object, and exerted himself,
while Edward was recovering from its effects, to
keep him down. It was quite wonderful to see
how soon the noble horse felt that he was under
safe guidance, and a control to which it was no
disgrace to yield, and submitted to it without
another wilful movement. All along the lad had
spoken to him in the tone of friendly sympathy
which those generous animals so well under-
stand; but the hand and the voice had not
acted together, and the horse was consequently
bewildered: now all was right again, and he
flew through the storm as if he was the Storm
King, and defied the power of his rebellious
When his freight arrived at their homes, the
farmer's boy touched his dripping hat respect-
fully, and said, I ask yer pardon, young meas-
ter, but the old gentleman saw I couldn't help
it. The horse is worth a good seventy pound
to master, and the cart and harness quite
He thought more of the cart and horse than
of our lives!" grumbled Edward.
And yet he saved them," said Cousin Jacob
in a severe tone.
'Twas only a tap, young gentleman, and I