. . . sy S
51 5y 4
Here stands quietly, Ellen Bell
Saying her lessons very well.
WITH SIXTEEN COLOURED PLATES,
AND NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS BY EMINENT ARTISTS.
WARD, LOCK, AND TYLER, WARWICK HOUSE,
A VISIT TO THE NEW FOREST.
I. A PLEASANT INVITATION 1
II. THE FIRST EVENING 9
III. THE FIRST MORNING 15
IV. OLD TIMES AND NEW 32
V. HAYMAKING 41
VI. THE BOOK OF SPORTS 53
VII. THE GAME OF ROBIN HOOD 61
VIII. ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD AND ALLAN-A-DALE. 70
Ix. THE PURSUIT 92
X. SEQUEL TO THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD AND
XI. THE PICNIC 136
XII. FAREWELL TO THE FOREST 147
ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST.
I. JEM AND HIS GRANNY 151
II. JEM GOES TO WORK 161
III. THE BIRDS IN THE SNOW 169
Iv. PROMOTION 181
v. A DOWNFALL 196
VI. THE FRM AGAIN 210
vii. BEES AND FLOWERS 221
vIII. UPs AND DOWNS 231
IX. HOW GRANNY WALKED IN THE PARK 249
I. THE WAYFARERS 263
II. THE INTERVIEW .269
III. GOSSIP IN THE FIELDS 278
Iv. SCOTLAND 283
v. ENGLAND 290
vI. HARVEST-HOME 296
vII. THE FARM SUPPER 301
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Kitty and George Feed the Swans .
Harry's Babbits enjoying their Breakfast
Unkind Boys throwing Sticks at the Squirrels
Pleasures of Haymaking
Last Day of Haymaking
The Weather-wise Shepherd
The Trysting Tree .
The Mystery Explained .
Gambols by Moonlight
Listening to the Nightingale
Mrs. Gibbs milks Spot
The White Lion"
Jack rides a Bace .
The Sheep-washing .
Laying the Table
Kitty and Alice feeding the Poultry
The young Squire out Shooting
The Robin revived .
Skating at Sunset .
Jem works for Mr. Swan
The New Rabbit Hutch .
Shooting Wild Ducks .
The Lambs at Play .
Hiving the Bees .
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Jem in Danger
The Young Ladies and
Lizzie and Matty
Best at the Stile
The Last Load
The Doctor's Speech
The Village School
The Fete at Ringwood Cottage
The Water Nymph"
Children and Foals
The King's Fat Deer
The Unsuccessful Search.
The Wrong Side of the River
In the Orchard
Sheep feeding on Turnips
Play after School
Feeding the Kine
Cutting down the Trees
Joe Stubbs Rat-catching
The Dinner Hour .
Lizzie a Gleaner
. ,, 194
S ,, 282
A VISIT TO THE NEW FOREST.
HEN we read, that in those olden
times in which the Romans in-
vaded Britain, the country was
nearly covered with forests and morasses,
it is difficult to picture to ourselves what'
it looked like, and how the people lived
and went on-so different is it now.
Perhaps the adventures of the young
party, whose visit to the New Forest
is related in the following tale, may help
to suggest how some of these things
were. It must often have been much
more difficult then to travel three or
four miles than as many hundreds now.
A narrow marsh frequently prevented a
weary traveller from reaching some place
of rest, which he could plainly see; and
as to a river of any breadth or depth,
it must have been a more effectual/
barrier than we find in the great Atlantid
THE CHILD'S OWN BOOK
A VISIT TO THE NEW FOREST.
A PLEASANT INVITATION.
0 you think mamma will let us
It would be such fun !"
"Fun! It would be delight-
ful! Much more than fun!"
"It would be delightful, and nice, and
merry, and happy, and everything!"
It was a letter that had just arrived by
post that caused all these exclamations.
"Read it again, Mary," cried Edward.
THE CHILD'S OWN BOOK
A VISIT TO THE NEW FOREST.
A PLEASANT INVITATION.
0 you think mamma will let us
It would be such fun !"
"Fun! It would be delight-
ful! Much more than fun!"
"It would be delightful, and nice, and
merry, and happy, and everything!"
It was a letter that had just arrived by
post that caused all these exclamations.
"Read it again, Mary," cried Edward.
2 COUNTRY PLEASURES.
"How is it directed ?" asked little
Kitty. "Are you sure it means that we
are all to go ?"
"Yes; she says 'all' of us. Of course, it
is only directed to me, because I am the
eldest. It is directed 'Miss Murray.' She
could not put Miss Murray, Miss Cathe-
rine Murray, Master Frederick, and
Master Edward Murray, all in a row.
There would have been no room for the
direction. But she says 'all.'"
Give it to me, and let me look," said
"No, no; read it .out loud again," re-
Now listen, then," said Mary; and she
began to read, while the rest collected
round her to hear every word of this
RINGWOOD COTTAGE, HAMPSHIRE.
MY DEAR MARY,-I think you know
that when papa and mamma went to
Scotland last month, they intended that,
A PLEASANT INVITATIOr
when Harry and George came home for
the holidays, we should all three go down
by sea and join them there; but things
have happened which prevent this happy
plan from taking place. I was terribly
disappointed at first; indeed, it was all I
could do to bear it. But mamma knew
that, and to comfort me she has thought
of such a nice thing; and so I write to
tell you about it, and if your mamma will
consent, I think we should be very happy
"That I am sure we should," exclaimed
"Hush! don't interrupt," said Fred.
Mary went on reading:-
Will you ask your mamma if she will
let you all-(" You hear, ALL") come here
next Tuesday week to spend a month with
us three ? Mrs. Allen has promised to let
Margaret and Constance come; and our
cousins, Walter, John, and Janey, will be
able to come every day, because they live
4 COUNTRY PLEASURES.
so near; so we should be twelve, and could
get up some nice games, and have riding,
boating, and different things. Nurse
takes care of everything for mamma while
she is away, and would look after us, and
keep us in order, you know, tell your
mamma. Indeed, sometimes we cannot
help laughing at the way she goes on,
just as if we were still little children,
instead of Harry being twelve and I thir-
teen, as I am. Then Aunt Fanny is
always at home, and has promised to
come every day, and see how we go on,
and help us to arrange our excursions,
and everything. She is not strong enough
to go with us often, but she is so kind,
she will give us good advice how to
manage well. So do try to come, and do
write as soon as you can, and tell me if
your mamma consents, for I am quite
impatient to know; and you must not
Your affectionate friend,
A PLEASANT INVITATION.
Having read the letter through, and
consulted a little how it would be best to
begin, so as to persuade their mamma to
consent, Mary, Kitty, Fred, and Edward
went in a body to the drawing-room, and,
with beating hearts and anxious faces,
watched her countenance as she read.
She shook her head at first, at which a
pang shot through them all, and Kitty
took hold of her hand, and was going to
say something, only Mary whispered to
her, She has not got to what Alice says
about nurse yet." A smile soon began to
appear, and after she had not only got to
what Alice said about nurse, but about
Aunt Fanny too, she looked at the anxious
faces round her, and, to the joy of all, gave
her consent, only reminding them that
she trusted to their behaving well and
sensibly, and each trying to promote the
happiness of all.
But cannot you come too, mamma?"
asked little Kitty; and the wish was
echoed by every one as they threw their
arms round her, and thanked her, and
looked into her loving eyes.
She said it was impossible this year, as
Mrs. Hope knew; but that it had already
been fixed that next year they should all
go together. "And you must describe it to
me, you know," she added, "when you come
back, so that I may know what to expect."
A note was sent that very day from
Mary to Alice joyfully accepting. The
preparations for the visit commenced.
Lessons were finished up, farewell calls to
friends and neighbours paid, and at last
the wished-for morning came, and after an
early dinner the happy party were seated
in the train that was to take them out of
noisy, smoky London to the green fields
and shady trees of the country.
After a journey of about four hours
they stopped at the station nearest to
Mr. Hope's cottage, and found a pony-
carriage waiting for Mary, Kitty, and the
luggage, and a pony each for Fred and
Whatever may happen, whatever befall,
Be sure you are ready to catch the ball.
A PLEASANT INVITATION.
It was a lovely, bright evening. As
they drove along, Fred and Edward
cantering by their side, the two sisters
sat enjoying the delicious freshness of the
air, the sight of the wild flowers, the
songs of the birds, the green grass in the
fields, the animals feeding in them, the
clean, cheerful cottages. No one who
lives in the country knows what it is to
go there after long living in a large town.
Our party had never seen Ringwood
Cottage, so they began to speculate about
which it was, as they passed one pretty
place after another, and to ask the old
coachman who drove them "if that was
it ?" or "if it was as large.as that ?" or
"as beautiful as the other ?"
You will know when you come near,
young ladies, I am thinking," said he at
last; "for it's my belief we shall hear
them a-shouting and a-laughing over their
cricket in the field."
At the sound of cricket the two boys
put their ponies up to their speed, the
' 8 COUNTRY PLEASURES. '
carriage Iwent, faster. to. keep :up with
them; .and. in five minutes, they went in
.at a gate, that stood wide open to show
it .was expecting them, trotted along be-
tween two walls of evergreens, turning
a corner, found themselves in the midst
of a joyous assemblage, and alighting, saw
Alice, who came eagerly forward to receive
and welcome them.
THE FIRST EVENING.
HE cottage stood on a soft green
sward, shaded by lofty trees. It
was very pretty, being irregular
in form, with white walls and
thatched roof. Beautiful roses, honey-
suckles, and other climbing plants grew
on it, and there were flower-beds near the
windows, which opened to the ground.
A large party, chiefly of boys, was collected
under the trees. It was the first day of
the holidays at the school to which Harry
and George belonged, and they had asked
all their schoolfellows who did not go
home to a distance to come and play
cricket, and have tea and a strawberry
feast in the evening.
10 COUNTRY PLEASURES.
Harry and George left their game as
soon -as they saw that their guests had
arrived; and there was a great shaking
of hands, and rejoicing that they had
met again. Alice took them in, as soon
as the first welcome was over, to take off
their travelling dresses, and have tea.
There they found Mrs. Hastings, the
mother of Walter, Jack, and Janey, who
was the "Aunt Fanny" of Alice's letter.
Oh! how pretty and sweet the cottage
seemed to the London children, and how
kind Aunt Fanny was to them! The
drawing-room was full of sweet scents
from the flowers outside the windows, as
well as from some lovely plants in baskets,
and several bouquets in glasses and jars
placed about the tables.
"If we only had papa and mamma
and your mamma with us," said Alice,
"we should be quite happy; but we can-
not have everything we wish for."
She took them to their rooms up-
stairs next, and helped them to take off
THE FIRST EVENING. 11
their dusty hats and cloaks. Again, how
fresh it seemed as they went up the oak
staircase, and still more in their rooms
with the white curtains, and everything
so bright and clean.
They could hardly spare time to take
as much refreshment as Aunt Fanny
wished, for they were so impatient to be
out on the lawn. Fred and Edward were
soon among the cricket-players, and found
their old friends, Walter and John, or
Jack, as he was called. Their sister Janey
was well known to Mary and Kitty, and
Margaret and Constance Allen were intro-
duced to them as new acquaintances.
The girls had quite enough to do help-
ing Alice to entertain her brothers' party,
and did not play any games themselves;
but there was plenty of pleasure for them.
There was a tent, where a table was
spread with cakes and strawberries, and
merry parties were constantly collecting
there. Then there was the garden, with
its beautiful flowers, to look at, and the
12 COUNTRY PLEASURES.
shady paths in the wood, and the sum-
mer-house, and the swing; but, above all,
they admired the walks by the river.
Here little George and Kitty, who soon
made friends, were found seated at the
root of a tree, feeding the swans and wild
ducks, and other water-birds. The grace-
ful white swans came arching their necks,
and ruffling their feathers, quite near
Kitty, for they were very tame, from
Alice having made a habit of feeding
them; then, as she threw the food on the
water, they sailed away and ate it with
their great black beaks. Kitty was obliged
to drive them away sometimes, or the
poor little ducks would have got nothing.
She was so happy that she could scarcely
bear to come away; but the sun had set,
and the party were dispersing; so she
was obliged to make up her mind to go in.
It had been a very pleasant day. Mary
put her little sister to bed as soon as
all were gone, feeling that, as Alice had
said, if only the dear friends who were
THE FIRST EVENING. 13
KITTY AND GEORGE FEED THE SWANS.
:14 COUNTRY PLEASURES.
absent were there, she should be quite
happy; and before she also lay down to
rest, she took out her desk, and wrote
to her mamma to tell her so.
THE FIRST MORNING.
ITTLE Kitty awoke early, and
when she looked round and re-
membered where she was, she
started up to look out at the
"Oh, Mary, awake, and come!" she
cried. "There is a field all over butter-
cups; and I can see the river behind the
trees; and I can .see a swan; and there
are white butterflies skimming about over
the field. I shall dress with all my might,
and get out as fast as I can."
Kitty was soon dressed and out, and
Mary was not long after her. It was a
lovely morning, fresh and clear; the dew
16 "; COUNTRY PLEASURES:
lay on the grass, the birds were singing,
and scents from trees and flowers filled
Mary found Alice already in the garden,
gathering fresh flowers for the drawing-
room, and was delighted to help her. The
roses were in full beauty; mignonette,
geraniums of many varieties and colours,
sweet-peas, and many pretty annuals,
made splendid bouquets. While they were
cutting the flowers, Kitty, George, and
Edward came out of the kitchen-garden
loaded with cabbage-leaves for Harry's
rabbits. They said Walter and Jack
had come over to breakfast, and were
with Fred and Harry looking at the rab-
bits, and had sent them for leaves.
Kitty said the rabbits were such pretty
creatures that Mary must really come and
look at them; but Mary was too busy
with the flowers at this minute, so Kitty
stopped to describe them. There was,"
she said, a lovely white one, with black
eyes and ears. Harry told her white
THE FIRST MORNING. 17
HARRY'S RABBITS ENJOYING THEIR BlREAKEAST.
rabbits generally had pink eyes, but he
did not think pink eyes nearly so pretty
as black. What do you think, Mary?"
Mary thought black eyes must be much
Then the other old rabbit was brown
and white. Kitty thought she did not
like it quite so much as the white one.
But there were four young ones! One
was white, with black eyes and ears like
its mother. Oh, it was so pretty! Just
like a little soft white ball; and another
was dark brown; and the other two
brown and white.
"You will come and see them by-
and-by, Mary ? What lovely flowers! Do
let me smell them. They are delicious!
Yes, George, I'm coming. I must go,
because Harry said we were to be quick;
And Kitty bustled away with her
basket full of leaves, while Alice and
Mary went in with their flowers, which
THE FIRST MORNING. 19
took a long while to arrange in their
glasses, and vases, and baskets, in the
drawing-room, and dining-room, and
breakfast-room, and lobby; for there were
flowers everywhere. Constance and Mar-
garet, however, had come down by this
time, and helped them. Alice was very
skilful from long practice, and the others
worked under her, and submitted every-
thing to her finishing touch.. Scarcely
was all done when the breakfast-bell
sounded, and nurse appeared to see that
no one had wet feet, and to beg that the
young gentlemen would scrape their shoes
before they came in, and hang their hats
in their proper places; and, whatever
Alice might think, nurse was very right
in her precautions. Jack especially, being
a careless fellow, was rushing in without
attending to any such preliminaries, when
she caught him and stopped him.
All breakfast time they discussed and
deliberated over plans for the day. One
recommended an excursion to Stony
20 COUNTRY PLEASURES.
Cross, to visit the spot where William
Rufus was killed by the arrow from the
bow of Sir .Walter Tyrrel, more than
seven hundred and fifty years ago;
another thought boating would be the
best; another wanted to stay near home
and play games. Before anything could
be fixed, however, Alice said she must
know when Aunt Fanny would be able
to come. Walter replied that his mother
told them to say she could be with them
to an early dinner. It was finally settled
that until she arrived they should remain
near home; because to Mary and Kitty,
Fred and Edward, everything was new,
and it was best they should see all there
was to be seen near home first; and that
some of them should go and meet Aunt
Fanny and escort her to dinner, and after-
wards take her advice as to how to spend
the afternoon and evening.
This being happily arranged, they
spread themselves about to enjoy the
pleasures of home, and the garden and
THE FIRST MORNING. 21
woods that surrounded it, according to
the taste of each. Kitty could scarcely
wait till Mary had finished breakfast be-
fore paying another visit to the rabbits,
and showing them to her.
Did I say they were too pretty ? Are
they not little darlings?" she asked.
Mary said they were very pretty. Kitty
had not said at all too much in praise of
Would Mary wait there while she ran
to the garden for a few more leaves that
she might show her how funnily they
would nibble the edges ?
Mary promised to wait, and sat down
outside while Kitty ran for the leaves.
Harry, meanwhile, arrived, and said he
was going to exercise the young ones.
This he did by throwing a small piece of
cabbage-stalk among them. One seized
it instantly; on which the other three
tried to take it away, chasing the fortu-
nate possessor of this treasure round and
round, jumping over it, and trying in
22 COUNTRY PLEASURES.
every way to get at it. Mary laughed;
but Kitty, when she came back, could
not bear to see them teased, and almost
began to cry about it; so Harry let her
throw in her leaves, and the cabbage-
stalk was soon forgotten, and the rabbits,
young and old, began to enjoy their abun-
dance in harmony and good fellowship.
Mary was next taken to see the swans
again; and it was so beautiful by the river
side that all the girls soon congregated
there. Constance ran in for their little
baskets and bags; they sat on trees, roots,
and stumps, and worked while one read.
The weather was warm; and the birds
singing among the branches, the hum of
the insects, and the gentle rippling of the
water, made delightful music.
But the music was interrupted by a
voice of woe.
Oh, Mary, look here! Isn't it a pity ?
Come and see if you cannot bring it to
Mary jumped up to .see what was
THE FIRST MORNING. 23
the matter, and Edward came running
through the trees carrying between his
hands a dead squirrel. He and George
had been climbing trees, he said; and he
saw a squirrel jumping from one branch
to another, so he ran after it through the
woods. He never saw anything so pretty
as the way it went on. By-and-by he
heard some voices, and he thought it was
George or some of the others; but when
he came up it was two strange boys throw-
ing sticks up at two other squirrels. So
while he was looking, they hit one, and it
fell down on the grass, but the other got
away, and so did that one he was looking
at first. It ran off over the ground some-
where. The boys only laughed at him
for looking so rueful about it, and told
him he might have it to stuff. "But
don't you think you could bring it to
life, Mary?" he asked again.
Mary took it in her hand, and felt it;
but its poor little head drooped down,
and its pretty paws were stretched out
24 COUNTRY PLEASURES.
stiffly. She shook her head, and said it
was quite dead, and would never jump
from branch to branch any more.
Kitty was very much grieved about
it. The tears did really flow down now,
and fell upon the poor little brown crea-
ture which she laid on her frock.
"Look at its large black eyes and its
lovely tail," she said. Why did the boys
kill it ? What harm was-it doing to them ?"
Alice said it was only mischief, and a
love of hunting creatures, that most boys
seem to have; and to drive away the
sadness that had come over Kitty and
Edward, she asked them if they did not
think they had better bury this poor
little thing in some shady place. So
they found a mossy bank under a beech-
tree, and dug a hole with sticks, and laid
the squirrel in it, covered him over with
the earth, and piled a thick bed of moss
Then Alice took Kitty on her lap, and
said how glad she was that the other two
'THE FIRST MORNING. -25
a~&. 1 ? i
UNKIND BOYS THROWING STICKS AT THE SQUIRRELS.
26 COUNTRY PLEASURES.
squirrels had escaped; and that they
were most likely high up in some tree
now enjoying themselves very much.
" You see, Kitty," said she, "this is just
the time for them to play and enjoy
themselves, eating twigs and fir-cones,
and whatever they can find. In autumn
they have to work, to store up a provision
in some hollow tree against the cold
%'What do they store up ?" asked Kitty,
wiping her eyes, and beginning to look
bright and interested.
Nuts, and beech-mast, and such
things; and in very cold and bad weather
they do not come out much, but stay at
home quietly and eat their store. Then
in spring they build a nest for their
young ones in the forked branches of
some tree, and find plenty of food about
for them and themselves.. But, oh, Kitty !
I must tell you such a funny thing Harry
and I saw one morning."
"Oh, yes, do tell me !" said Kitty, set-
THE FIRST MORNING. 27
fling herself comfortably on Alice's lap,
while Edward came close to her side.
It was in winter, and it was snowing
fast. The trees were loaded with snow,
and especially the fir-trees, which held it
among their stiff-pointed dark-green
leaves. Well, high up on one of the fir-
trees, opposite the breakfast-room window,
we saw two squirrels seated, eating fir-
cones. They sit upright on a branch, and
pick off a cone with their front paws; then
they pick out the scales, just as we pick
the leaves out of an artichoke, and nibble
out the seed at the bottom, and then
throw the rest on the ground. They look
so pretty. You can see their bright round
eyes, and their pointed ears, both on the
alert, in case any danger should be near,
while they pick scale after scale off and
"How I should like to see them!" said
"Very likely you may while you are
here. Well, but these two squirrels, you
know, were out in the snow. But as they
did not like to get wet, they had provided
themselves with umbrellas."
"Alice!" exclaimed Edward, rather
"They had folded their bushy tails
over their backs and heads. So there they
sat eating away, their tails piled thickly-
several inches thick-with the white snow,
and their bodies and heads dry and com-
fortable. So, you see, as soon as they had
eaten enough, all they would have to do
would be to whisk their tails down, shake
off the snow, and pop down into some hole
in the tree."
Did you see them whisk their tails ?"
No; Alice could not wait to see them,
but she felt sure they did.
"I wish I had seen them," said Kitty.
Look how the swans and ducks come
swimming round us, as if they wanted
some food. Have you any more for them,
THE FIRST MORNING. 29
Kitty had given them every scrap she
had; so Alice told her she might go and
ask the cook for any bits of broken bread
she had, and a little corn. Kitty felt rather
shy about going to the cook, much as she
wished to get this food; so Constance
good-naturedly jumped up, and taking
her hand, ran off with her along the path
through the trees, and then little Kitty
felt quite at her ease.
It seemed long before they returned.
The swans and ducks grew tired of wait-
ing, and swam off, and once or twice
Edward had made excursions homeward
to look for them, then loitered near the
river, throwing in stones to pass the time.
"Here they come! I see them!" he
cried at last, "Oh! I should like to get
in with them!"
As he spoke, a boat came gliding along,
rowed by Fred and Jack-Constance,
Kitty, and George seated in the stern.
"Here we are! Look at us, Mary!"
cried Kitty, as they drew near. "You are
all to come in, and have a row; and we
can throw the food out on the water as
we go along."
The whole party was soon seated in the
boat, Kitty informing Edward that it was
called the "Water Nymph," and making
him observe how prettily it was painted
in green and white. Fred was a practised
oarsman, having rowed on the Thames,
and Jack was also expert; so they made
the boat skim along. They passed beauti-
ful spots, sometimes passing under the
branches that overhung the water, some-
times seeing distant views along the
glades of the forest; once they caught a
glimpse of a large herd of deer, to the great
delight and admiration of the Londoners.
Meanwhile, they threw some of the food
Kitty had brought to the swans and ducks
whenever they came near. There seemed
no end to the pleasure, and it was hardly
possible to believe that so much time had
passed, when Alice said it was nearly one,
and they must go home to get ready for
A long pull, a strong pull, and a pull altogether,
Shall carry us on bravely in all sorts of weather.
THE FIRST MORNING. 31
dinner. So the "Water Nymph" was
safely moored in the boat-house, and as
they walked towards the cottage, they
saw the pony-carriage bringing Aunt
Fanny. Harry and Walter had driven
to her house to bring her, that she might
have no fatigue, and might be able to
accompany them all on a little excursion
in the forest after dinner.
OLD TIMES AND NEW.
HE slanting rays of the sun were
beaming through the leaves of
the ancient trees, when our party,
after a delightful walk, collected
on the slope above Stony Cross, and found
the pony-carriage, with Aunt Fanny and
Fred, who had driven her there, wait-
ing for them. They put up the pony-
carriage at the inn near, and all went
together to the spot so well known in
history. A triangular stone stands there
with an inscription on each of its sides:-
1. Here stood the oak on which an arrow, shot by Sir Walter
Tyrrell at a stag, glanced and struck King William the Second,
surnamed Rufus, in the breast, of which he instantly died, on the
second of August, A.D. 1100."
OLD TIMES AND NEW.
2. "King William the Second, surnamed Rufus, being slain,
as is before related, was laid in a cart belonging to one Purkess,
and drawn from hence to Winchester, and was buried in the
cathedral church of that city."
3. "A.D. 1745. That the place where an event so memorable
had happened might not be hereafter unknown, this stone was set
up by John, Lord Delawar, who has seen the tree growing in this
Reading the inscriptions set them talk-
ing about old times. Aunt Fanny told
them that the village of Minstead, a mile
off, is said to have received its name from
the exclamation of Rufus when he fell
from his horse, "0 myne stede !"
Kitty said it was a long time ago that
all that happened, and she could not think
why it was called the "New Forest."
Fred laughed, and told her he did not
wonder she thought so, but it was "new"
in the time of William Rufus, because
William the Conqueror made it.
Aunt Fanny then went on to tell them
that when William the Conqueror made
this forest, he already had sixty-nine
forests, thirteen chases, and seven hun-
dred and fifty parks, in different parts of
England, all stocked with game, in which
the king only and such of his nobles and
followers as he chose had a right to hunt;
and yet he was not satisfied, but laid waste
all the country hereabouts, thirty miles in
length, destroying towns,villages, churches,
mansion-houses, and cottages, and stock-
ing it with deer and other game. These
were dreadful cruelties to commit, all for
the love of hunting.
Everybody agreed to this, and Mary
said she was glad we did not live in those
"Whatever else has changed," observed
Fred, "the love of hunting lasts still."
Aunt Fanny replied, that was true;
"but," she added, though it is true that
in our days gentlemen hunt foxes and
deer, yet the fierce spirit is gone out of
the sport. The forest laws were dreadfully
severe; death, cruel maiming, and im-
prisonments, and fines, were inflicted for
killing the deer or smaller game, or even
trespassing, and taking the vert, as the
OLD TIMES AND NEW. 35
wood was called. The game-laws which
have succeeded are growing milder con-
tinually, and only three or four of the
forests remain of all there once were; and
these are open to everybody, and have
become delightful and beautiful places to
Robin Hood was the fellow!" said
Jack. He killed the deer in spite of the
king and all his laws."
"What would you say to our reading
the beginning of Sir Walter Scott's
'Ivanhoe' as we sit here in this forest,
under the trees ? I brought the book,
thinking you might like it."
An unanimous vote of approval pro-
ceeded from all present.
"We cannot anywhere find in so small
a space so perfect an idea of England as
it then was. He is describing Sherwood
Forest, you know-not the New Forest;
but that matters little. You have nearly
all read it, I dare say."
All had read it but little George and
Kitty; but all would like to hear it
So Aunt Fanny opened the book, and
while the little party gathered round her,
some seated on tree-stumps, others on the
mossy turf, she began to read that beauti-
ful description of an ancient forest, so
well known; and as they looked round it
seemed as if they were transported back
to that old time, so exact was the picture.
The sun was setting upon one of the
rich grassy glades of that forest which
we have mentioned at the beginning of
the chapter. Hundreds of broad short-
stemmed oaks, which had witnessed, per-
haps, the stately march of the Roman
soldiery, flung their broad, gnarled arms
over a thick carpet of the most delicious
greensward; in some places they were
intermingled with beeches, hollies, and
copse-wood of various descriptions, so
closely as totally to intercept the level
beams of the sinking sun; in others, they
receded from each other, forming those
OLD TIMES AND NEW.
long, sweeping vistas, in the intricacy of
which the eye delights to lose itself, while
imagination 'considers them as the paths
to yet wilder scenes of sylvan solitude.
Here the red rays of the sun shot a broken
and discoloured light that partially hung
upon the shattered boughs and mossy
trunks of the trees, and there they illumi-
nated in brilliant patches the portions of
turf to which they made their way."
Mrs. Hastings continued to read, going
on to the description of Gurth the swine-
herd, as he stood in the glade, clothed in
a jerkin, which descended to his knees,
made of some animal's skin, with a hole
cut in it for his head; and no other clothing
summer and winter; his feet in wooden
sandals; his legs bound with leather
thongs; and a metal collar round his
throat, on which was engraved his name,
"Gurth, the born thrall (or serf) of Cedric
of Rotherwood." Then to the description
of Wamba the jester, also with his collar,
declaring him to be a "born thrall." She
read of poor Gurth's difficulty in collecting
his swine, because the keepers had cut off
the claws of his dog to prevent his attack-
ing the deer. Then followed the meeting
with the cavalcade, consisting of the Prior
of St. Aylmer's, gay, richly dressed, and
sleek, on his ambling mule, with his at-
tendant monks, and the Knight Templar
on his war-horse, come home from the
Holy Land, with his fierce-looking fol-
lowers, heavily armed. Then the rude
hospitality at the house of the Saxon
thane, and the dread prevalent of the
cruelty and oppression of the Norman
nobles, entrenched in their feudal castles,
full of their lawless retainers. Then,
passing over the intermediate parts, she
read about Robin Hood and his merry
men, who fled to the forests to resist them.
"That was the England of seven
hundred years ago," said Aunt Fanny.
" Now we may see, in a few solitary places
like this, a party of gipsies under the
trees, but we have no outlaws. Instead
CHILDREN AND FOALS.
OLD TIMES AND NEW.
of 'born thralls,' we have free labourers,
with their cottages and gardens. Feudal
castles have changed into the beautiful
mansions and parks of our aristocracy;
distinctions between Norman and Saxon
are forgotten in the one name of English-
man. Knights, monks, priors, have
vanished. Only three or four of the old
forests remain, and this is the only one of
these few that keeps something of its
original character. Where these wild
regions once stretched out, inhabited only
by game, and used for nothing but the
pleasure of the king and his nobles, we
have cultivated fields, gardens, houses,
villages, and large towns and cities. We
have thriving manufactures and arts of
which they never dreamed; our ships
cover the seas, and trade to countries of
which they were totally ignorant. We are
clothed, and lodged, and fed better than
they ever imagined of."
We have no Knights Templars," said
Harry, "but we have wars still"
40 COUNTRY PLEASURES.
That is too true," she replied, "and so
it is true that though we have not 'born
thralls,' we have paupers, and beggars,
and over-tasked labourers; but yet, on
the whole, there is a grand improvement
since those days, and a spirit of peace and
progress is spreading among us faster.
May you all, each as you have power
and opportunity, help it onward, dear
HE field, "all over, buttercups,"
which had delighted Kitty's eyes
when first she looked out of
her bedroom window, was now
ready to cut, and the delights of hay-
making began. On a warm, sunny
morning, the sound of the mowers whet-
ting their scythes was heard, and by
six o'clock the greater number of the
inhabitants of Ringwood Cottage were
astir. Two men had been at work since
three, so that by the time all were dressed
and out, there were a great many swathes
of grass lying on the ground. Still it was
too soon to begin turning it. The mowers
said it must lie as it was till about twelve
o'clock; but then, if the sun continued to
shine as it did now, the sooner it was
turned the better. So now they could
only run about and enjoy the delicious
scent of the cut grass, and have fun as
usual-which they never found very diffi-
cult-and go in again to breakfast.
By twelve o'clock Alice and Harry had
provided hayforks and rakes enough for
every one, and led the. way into the field,
and set everybody to work. There was
plenty to do, turning over every swathe
and raking up what was scattered; and
plenty to do in scattering it again, by
playing all sorts of tricks and gambols
among the grass.
As it was extremely warm, and the sun
beamed down both on grass and hay-
makers, the grass dried fast, and the hay-
makers often had to take refuge under
the trees; but they could not bear to go
in; and, to indulge them, nurse spread a
table for them in a shady corner of the
field, and there they had a cold dinner,
PLEASURES OF HAYMAKING.
44 COUNTRY PLEASURES.
sending good platefuls to the two mowers,
who were also resting for their dinner-
hour; and to the gardener and his boy,
who were assisting in haymaking, and
seated by the mowers. Happy as every
day had been, they thought this the hap-
piest of all, and they worked so well
after dinner that the whole field had
been turned by tea-time; the mowers
having finished their part by about four
This pleasant work lasted several days;
indeed, nearly a week; for there was rain
sometimes, and then everything that had
been done had to be undone and put up
new. If the grass was in small cocks,
they must be taken to pieces, spread over
the field, raked into ridges, and then
before night put up-in cocks again. Many
anxious looks were cast at the clouds, and
many a time was the barometer consulted,
for they had a pride in getting up the hay
quickly and in good condition, that when
Mr. and Mrs. Hope came home they might
admire the haystack. Of course it could
not be a large haystack, like the farmers',
or like Mr. Grey's two splendid ones last
year, Alice said, but she wanted it to be
very good hay.
At last Collins the gardener, who took
the management of all outdoor concerns
at Ringwood Cottage, and was therefore
looked up to as chief authority about the
hay, was satisfied that it was ready to
stack. It was put up in large haycocks
overnight; next morning everybody was
to be in the field directly after breakfast,
to begin the pleasant work of carting and
stacking. In the evening there was to
be a supper party in the field, consisting
of Collins, his wife, and children; Thomas
the coachman, with his wife and son;
the two mowers and their families, and
the maids. Nurse was to sit at the top
of the table, and the cook at the bottom.
When supper was over, they were to have
a dance on the lawn, and a fiddler was
engaged to come by seven o'clock. As to
46 COUNTRY PLEASURES.
anything that had to be done in the
cottage, such as getting tea, or waiting
on Aunt Fanny, Alice, Mary, and all the
rest with one accord declared they would
undertake that; and they seemed to con-
sider it would be capital fun. The cook
was busy preparing cold pies, and all
manner of substantial fare; large cakes
were made, and everything promised well.
So did the weather. The sky was clear,
and a splendid full moon lighted up the
hay-field, when Harry called everybody
out, before they went up to bed, to give
an opinion as to "what luck for to-
morrow?" There could be no doubt about
it. It would certainly be fine.
Mary and Kitty were awoke at six
o'clock by Alice, who opened their door,
exclaiming, "Jump up! it is a lovely
morning!" and in five minutes from that
time, if there had been any passers-by
looking up at the cottage windows, they
would have seen a face at every one on
the bed-room floor; but there were none,
unless some swallow or sparrow chanced
to glance at them.
The waggon, hired for the occasion from
the neighboring farm, was in the field
by nine o'clock, and was hailed by a shout
of welcome from the boys. Then began
the work of loading it, every one working
hard, some with forks, some with rakes.
Collins had already prepared the place
where the haystack was to be erected, by
placing a good thick layer of dry boughs
on the ground; and now he was in the
waggon, receiving the hay as it was
thrown up by the numerous hands em-
ployed, and packing it properly in the
waggon. Harry and Fred took it by
turns to lead the horse, and stop him at
the proper place, each, when off duty with
the horse, forking up, assisted by Walter
and Jack, and by Alice, Mary, Constance,
and Janey, when they were not too tired;
but they often felt their arms ache. The
little ones had full employment in raking.
The first waggon-load was driven off
48 COUNTRY PLEASURES.
to the place in the corner of the field that
Collins had prepared, with three cheers;
and now Harry and Fred mounted on
the top, and forked down the hay,
while Collins carefully laid it flat on the
boughs, assisted by the whole party, whom
he advised and instructed continually;
the rakers also had plenty to do, collect-
ing what was scattered or blown about by
the wind. The hay was pronounced to be
the finest ever made, and the stack was
expected to be much larger than last year.
The stack rose grandly, and as load
after load was deposited on it, the forkers
had to throw up the hay, instead of
throwing it down, and Harry and Fred
were enlisted by Collins as his assistants
in building it up; so Walter and Jack
forked it up out of. the waggon. By this
time the maids had been called out to
help, and came very willingly to enjoy the
work; and even nurse and the cook were
forced to rake now and then. It must
be owned that the juvenile part of the
~~----------~-~--~--~--- ~ ~~-~-
:"" '-' -c~6; i 1-
I kt~4 "~'
LaST DAY OF HAyMx.KING.
community did not go on so steadily all day
as they had begun, but permitted them-
selves on various occasions the relaxation
of burying each other under the hay,
flinging it at faces, and suddenly upsetting
a neighbour into the midst of the nearest
haycock. Jack was particularly apt to
indulge in these amusements.
Everybody was very ready to go to
dinner when summoned by Aunt Fanny,
but quite as ready to start off to the field
again when Collins sent in to say that it
was two o'clock. By four the last load
was on its way to the stack, Collins
leading the horse, all the boys on the top
of the load, and all the girls walking by
the side, carrying green boughs, and
marching very merrily to the sound of
the boys' continual cheers. Near the
stack they found Aunt Fanny, seated on
a chair, which Alice had brought there
for her, and nurse, the cook, and the
maids were summoned to leave the sup-
per-table, about which they were busy,
for they must come and see the last load
forked up. So many helped that this
important ceremony was concluded in a
wonderfully short time, and the stack
was pronounced to be splendid. There
were three cheers, waving of hats, and
caps, and green boughs, and, finally, a
dance round the haystack, all holding
hands; then the waggon was led home;
Collins went to dress for supper, and the
haymaking was over.
The supper table was declared to look
very well, except that it wanted flowers,
which the girls soon supplied in abun-
dance, and then went in, got ready for
tea, and kept their word about waiting,
and doing everything that was wanted,
so that the supper-party in the field went
on quite successfully, and sounds of laugh-
ter and of songs often came in at the open
windows; indeed, so happy were the
guests that they had not risen from table
when the fiddle was heard at the door.
Very little delay, however, took place;
52 COUNTRY PLEASURES.
for all the boys, led on by Jack, started
off to the field, and, joining with the
maids in clearing away, completed it in
less than five minutes. Away went Fred
with a pile of plates; next came Harry
with the empty dishes (for all were empty,
plentiful as the supper had been); then
Jack with a tray of jingling glasses-in
short, everything was ready; and the
dance began at a quarter-past seven.
And the dance was as pleasant and
merry as all the rest had been. At nine
o'clock cake and elder wine were carried
round, and, with a kind good-night to
all, the party separated, and a good sound
sleep ended a very happy day.
THE BOOK OF SPORTS.
HREE happy weeks had passed;
every day had brought its plea-
sures; the weather had generally
been fine, and the few rainy days
that had occurred had been very nearly
as happy as the finer ones; for there was
a' large empty room in the cottage in
which all manner of games could go on;
in the morning and in the evening they
had got up a dance now and then; or
sometimes, if they were tired and glad to
rest, had set one of the party to read
aloud while the rest listened-for there
were plenty of books.
One morning came, however, of that
doubtful kind which is worst of all, for it
seems neither one thing nor another. It
had been decided the night before that
they should make an excursion far into
the forest, and should carry provisions
with them, and picnic in some beautiful
spot; so it was doubly vexatious that the
clouds would spread over the sky and
hide the sun, which every now and then
shone brilliantly. Once it looked so
bright that they decided they would go.
Nurse began to get out baskets for the
cold fowls and sandwiches, the fruit and
cakes, and the other things she meant to
pack for them; the ponies and carriages
were ordered; and everybody was rushing
up-stairs to get ready, when the sky
darkened again, and a few large drops of
"It will not do," said Alice, sorrow-
fully, as she stopped on the stairs and
looked out. We must give it up."
Aunt Fanny at the same moment ap-
peared at the drawing-room door, and,
with a grave face, said that she hoped
THE BOOK OF SPORTS.
THE WEATHER-WISE SHEPHERD.
56 COUNTRY PLEASURES.
they did not mean to venture out; the
weather looked too threatening.
The whole party came slowly down,
and assembled round her.
"You must find out some amusement
in-doors," said she, "to occupy the morn-
ing. If I have any skill in the clouds,
we shall have a fine evening; and I con-
sulted Farmer Trueman's shepherd, whom
I met in the lane as I came here, driving
his sheep to pasture, and he said the
same; so did Sally the milkmaid. If we
are all right, you can go into the woods
and play games in the evening, without
going to any great distance."
I'll tell you what," said Mary, "sup-
pose we think over all the games we have
invented since we came, and fix on one
for the evening."
So we will," said Harry. We always
waste such a time in debating, and
choosing, and deciding what we shall do."
"I like owl game best," cried little
THE BOOK OF SPORTS. 57
"Frog was a thousand times more fun,"
"Oh, but," cried Fred, "we invented
much better games than those. Don't
you recollect bogies and fairies, and
spreading enchantment, and giant game
with the hoops ?"
"No, no! the hoops were in turnpike
game," cried two or three at once.
"Now listen to me; do pray be quiet,
George," said Harry. "Let Alice get
paper, pen, and ink, and write down all
the games we have invented. She can
remember, I dare say; or, at any rate,
Mary and I, Constance and Fred, will
help, and all you little ones can listen,
and correct, and remind."
"It's an excellent plan," said Fred.
Alice was accordingly seated at a table
without loss of time; and after some
hours of noisy debate, in which there
were all sorts of different opinions given
and taken, the following games were
written down, and headed:-
58 COUNTRY PLEASURES.
BOOK OF SPORTS AND OUT-OF-DOOR GAMES.*
Each child finds a home, and in the middle is a stick or some
mark which they have to run and touch. Whoever touches it
first is giant. Whilst giant hides his eyes, they go and pick up a
ball, which is his property. They take it to their home, and then
run away again; he runs to fetch it, and they try to catch him
before he returns to the mark. Whoever catches him is giant.
If he returns to the mark without the ball, he pays a forfeit.
One child is frog; he jumps (frogs) after the others, until he
catches them all. He then sets them puzzling tasks. Each as he
performs his task is set free, and the last one becomes frog.
There are two rows of large stones, arranged at equal distances
round the playground; these are called turnpikes, and each has
a keeper. The other children take hoops (horses), and try to roll
them between the two stones, without touching either. If the
rider succeeds, the keeper pays him a stone; if not, the rider
pays the keeper one. That child wins who goes through all the
turnpikes without touching.
There are three witches, who decide on an animal. The other
children come up and guess what animal it is. If the right one
is guessed, the witches, without saying who guessed it, start off
running, which sets all the rest scampering, for they do not know
who was the right one. If the one who guessed is caught before
they get home, he takes the witches' place.
Some of these games are very much alike, but I leave the book exactly as the
children wrote it.
THE BOOK OF SPORTS. 59
One person is fisherman, who is placed on a high place, with a
long rod or stick; the rest call themselves after fishes; he must not
know their names. He then tries to touch one, and guesses the
name. If he succeeds, the fish is fisherman; if not, the fish is free.
One child represents a bad fairy. The rest choose partners and
a general home. Then the fairy runs after them, and when half
the company are caught, the fairy gives all the prisoners flower
names. The rest come forward, and each in turn asks for one of
the flowers. If he guesses his partner, they are free, till all are
free. If two partners are caught, they pay a forfeit, and are free.
One child is a King of the Bogies, another a Queen of the
Fairies. Then divide the rest into two parties; one is under the
king, the other under the queen, and each party finds a home.
The fairies then spread enchantment-that is, whoever touches a
certain place is caught. The fairies hide their prisoners, and the
bogies try to find them. When a bogy is freed, he is allowed to
pass safe back.
One half of the company are owls, the other half are children.
The children form themselves into a ring, and one owl, called
chief owl, tries to get into it. When he has done so, he carries
off one child as his prisoner. When half the children are
prisoners, the owls form a ring, and the remaining children try to
get into it; when they have done so, they take one of their
prisoners back. So they go on till they have got them all back.
A bank is chosen by the whole community, of which there
is a keeper. This keeper is a stupid man. One child is a miser,
who puts his money (stones) into the bank. The children give
themselves fictitious names, and ask the keeper for the miser's
money. He is stupid enough to give it them. When the miser
comes, he runs after both keeper and children. Whoever is
caught is miser.
Game for a large Party.
One child personates Robin Hood. Some more children arrange
themselves under him as archers, with bows and arrows (if possible).
Then a game is carried on; they capture travellers (other children),
and do other things.
Game which can be played by a large or small Party.
One child acts guide; the rest take hoops, which they call
horses. The guide has his horse. He then guides them over the
mountain, as they call the field or playground. Many adventures
happen, and the guide tells them mountain stories.
Take a field or wood for your playground; fix your house
under a bush or tree. Divide your party into men, women, and
children. One is Queen of the Gipsies. They go out to pick up
sticks; some light fires, some get provisions, some go about telling
fortunes, some pretend to cook, &c., &c.
THE GAME OF ROBIN HOOD.
Y the time Alice had written as
far as this, nurse came to say
they must get ready for dinner.
There was no more time for
writing, though there seemed no end to
the games they might have remembered
had they gone on; and, to their surprise,
they found that it was a bright, fine day;
the clouds were sailing away in large
white masses over a deep blue sky, and
they had been so busy they had forgotten
to look at the weather. It was evident
that Aunt Fanny was right, and that
they might go out and enjoy the woods
in the evening.
All dinner the discussion went on as to
what game they should choose, and at
last it was decided by show of hands that
Robin Hood was the favourite.
We have bows and arrows," said Fred,
" and can act it in style."
"And let us put on everything green
that we can muster," said Jack.
We must pretend we are in green," said
Alice. "You have a green jacket, you
know, Jack; but I don't think any of the
others have, and none of us have green
frocks-at least, none that we could play
in. But we will get out the bows and
arrows, and set up the target, and Robin
Hood can begin by making his men
practise at the mark."
Fred shall be Robin Hood first," said
"And Alice shall be Maid Marian,"
"Yes, and all the rest must be men.
Janey shall be Friar Tuck because she's
fattest," said Jack.
THE GAME OF ROBIN HOOD. 63
"And Constance Allan-a-Dale, because
she sings best," said George.
No; I want to be Allan-a-Dale," said
Jack. "I know what I can put on to
"Very well; then it is fixed that we
shall play at Robin Hood," said Alice-
" that Fred is to be Robin Hood first, and
I Maid Marian, and Janey Friar Tuck,-
I think you are very impertinent, Master
Jack, though-and that you are Allan-a-
Dale. If you do not keep your word, and
come properly dressed, you shall pay a
Jack looked very important, and nodded
his head, as much as to say he had no
doubt about his appearance.
They now dispersed to prepare, ap-
pointing to meet at the trysting-tree,
which was to be a certain old oak in a
grassy alley at the foot of a little hill, at
Punctually to her time, Maid Marian
appeared on the ground, and she had
64 COUNTRY PLEASURES.
been better than her word. By Aunt
Fanny's kind help, she had been dressed
out very prettily. She had a green train.
Bows of green ribbon fastened up her
dress, and her hat was ornamented with
flowers. The few of the "merry men"
who had already collected greeted her
with a shout of welcome and approbation,
and as one after another appeared, the
applause was continued.
Jack presently marched gracefully up,
with bow in hand, and placing himself in
an attitude, shot at the target. He wore
his green suit, with a scarf tastefully
tied over one shoulder. He had mounted
a quiver, to which he had tied a rounded
stick, so as to represent a harp, and this
was slung behind him. Altogether his
costume was highly picturesque, and cries
of Allan-a-Dale for ever!" Bravo,
comrade !" filled the air. Unfortunately,
his arrow did not strike the target, but
glanced aside in rather an awkward man-
ner; but he stepped back with such an
THE GAME OF ROBIN HOOD.
I: ~'" g ~:
66 COUNTRY PLEASURES.
air that he had all the appearance of
success, and no one took any notice of
Robin Hood was distinguished by a
green sash and a green velvet cap, which
Aunt Fanny had hastily constructed out
of an old bonnet, and looked very well.
He threw himself down at the foot of the
oak-tree to judge of the marksmen, and
had soon mustered his band. Most of
them had contrived to dress up a little-
some in ribbons, others with green boughs;
one or two of the boys had turned their
jackets inside out.
After each had tried his skill at the
target, and Robin Hood had surpassed
them all by shooting his arrow into the
bull's-eye, and receiving three rounds of
applause, he harangued his men as
Silence, my friends I have important
information to give you. I have received
intelligence, by means not now necessary
to detail, that a party of hired ruffians
THE GAME OF ROBIN HOOD. 67
belonging to the Baron of Beaulieu, car-
rying the spoils of a whole village"-
(cries of "Shame !")-" are about to pass
the eastern outskirts of the forest. The
Miller and Little John, with a strong
party, must intercept them, recover the
booty, and bring it here. It shall be the
task of Maid Marian to restore the pro-
perty to the despairing villagers." (Shouts
of Bravo! Our gallant leader for ever!")
Silence, once more !" continued Robin
Hood. On the western frontier of our
domains, a number of lazy monks are
even now ambling along on their mules.
Let Friar Tuck, with another party-it
need only be a small one-sally forth to
deal with his brethren, and to escort
them hither. They shall deposit a good
round ransom, and then proceed on
their way with all convenient speed."
(Laughter, and cries of "The Friar for
Our next care," continued the gallant
leader, must be to provide the feast for
the night's repast. Allan-a-Dale, for you
I have reserved the pleasing duty of fol-
lowing me to the chase. See that your
bowstring is in order, and that your hand
and eye are more steady and skilful than
on the occasion which I blushed to wit-
ness recently, and we will not return
without a fat buck. Prepare, therefore,
beauteous Maid Marian, to cook our
venison, and I invite one and all to our
hospitable board this night. Can there
be one more worthy our state and dig-
nity? The fresh turf for our tablecloth,
the green boughs overhead for our canopy,
and the starry arch of heaven for our
Rapturous shouts greeted the conclu-
sion of this oration, and every one re-
paired to his post. Harry and Walter,
as the Miller and Little John, accom-
panied by little Kitty, who was to be
the strong party," set off in one direc-
tion; while Constance and George, as
the hired ruffians," ran behind the trees
We have no need to fear,
A frightened herd of deer.
THE GAME OF ROBIN HOOD. 69
to be ready to be attacked, and to make
a desperate resistance. Janey as the
Friar, with Margaret as the small party,"
sallied forth in the opposite direction, and
Mary undertook to be the lazy monks."
Alice remained on the spot, and began
collecting brushwood to make the fire,
holding herself in readiness to receive
each party as one after the other should
All this arranged, Robin Hood and
Allan-a-Dale seized their bows, filled their
quivers, and prepared to start; and it so
happened that at that very instant a
group of the king's fat deer, which had
been observed hovering near for some
time, bounded off at full speed. Without
a moment's delay, the two outlaws rushed
after them, and were soon out of sight
among the thick underwood and massive
branches of the trees.
ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD AND ALLAN-A-DALE.
WILD chase over stock and stone
after the deer which bounded be-
fore them soon carried the two
boys far from the trysting-tree.
The deer, too familiarised to the sight of
man to be very shy, stopped every here
and there, made circuits, and dashed back
again, and even began to browse con-
tentedly now and then, so that they lured
on their pursuers simply because they
were not in the least afraid of them; but
after about a quarter of an hour's good hard
run, Fred and Jack stopped, having en-
tirely lost sight of their game, and threw
ROBIN HOOD AND ALLAN-A-DALE. 71
themselves panting on the grass. As
soon as they had recovered breath enough
to speak, they mutually agreed that they
had gone far enough, and would go back
again. "Stop a minute, though," said
Jack, who had begun roaming about and
poking into nooks and crevices, and then
seating himself on the ground, took out
his knife and began cutting a fallen
I cannot think what you are about !"
You would not have us go disgrace-
fully back without the venison," replied
Jack, continuing to cut and shape the
bough. If this capital fat buck will not
satisfy them, I don't know what will!"
As he spoke he threw the bough he had
prepared over his shoulder. It was well
shaped, and being thickly clothed with
the grayish-brown leaves of last autumn,
really looked a little like a dead deer.
"It is capital!" cried Fred, "but let
me carry it; you have quite enough to do
72 COUNTRY PLEASURES.
with your harp, clambering through the
brambles and branches."
This transfer being made, they set
themselves in motion.
"Which is the way ?" asked Fred.
"Let me see," said Jack. "That must
be the-path, I think."
They looked about them, and then
looked at one another. Awaking as
from a dream, they saw far round them
one deep shadow, one thick and con-
tinuous roof of boughs, and thousands of
hoary tree trunks. There was nothing to
mark which way to go, nor which way
they had come.
"We cannot be very far from home at
all events," said Fred, "so let us take the
most likely path, and get on as fast as
After a little debate about which was
the most likely path, they chose one and
walked sturdily on, Fred shouldering the
fat buck. Every here and there they
passed long glades or ravines, and looked
ROBIN HOOD AND ALLAN-A-DALE. 73
down them, expecting to see at the end
Maid Marian preparing for their venison;
but all was silence and solitude. Then
they came to trees larger and finer than
any they had seen. Jack thought he
remembered climbing up one old beech-
tree, remarkable from having a hollow
opening in the middle, once when he was
a little fellow, but he was not sure; there
might be another like it. At last they,
emerged on a wide open space, where the
ground was covered with heath.
"This cannot be the way," said Fred.
" Stop, I think I hear some people passing
through there. Let us take this path to
As he spoke a herd of wild forest ponies
came scampering out of the woods, crossed
the heath, and disappeared down a
"We must turn back," said Jack. "I
am certain we shall not find the way
across this heath. Now let us see; that
path to the left looks very likely."
Down this path to the left, therefore,
they turned, and soon became entangled
in the thickest underwood. The "fat
buck" had long since been thrown down
to rest in its native woods, and Allan-a-
Dale's harp and scarf were left sticking
on some briar or branch. Still they
A flash of light made Fred pause. It
was a beam from the setting sun that,
suddenly emerging from a bank of clouds,
dazzled his eyes; and he started, as he
tried to look up, to see a hairy face and a
large pair of eyes fixed on him. He felt,
for a moment, as if he was among the
enchantments of the Black Forest, like
the knight in the story of "Undine,"
which they had been reading the evening
before at the cottage; but it was only a
stag with its head above a holly-bush,
and its antlers among the branches of a
great tree above. It dashed away, and
the crash of its progress sounded for a
long time in his ears.
ROBIN HOOD AND ALLAN-A-DALE. 75
The two boys sat down completely
"We are in a bad scrape, Jack," said
Fred. "The sun has set, and we shall
soon be in the dark."
"At all events let us get out of this
underwood if we can. If we could but
find a path once more, we might get home
by it. We must get home, you know."
Of course we must. The only way is
to keep straight in one direction. If we
turn back, or go to one side, we may
wander about till midnight."
Stoutly, therefore, they did walk on;
and at last found to their joy that the
underwood grew thinner, and finally
ceased; and a wide opening in the trees
looked hopeful. To their eyes, used to
the darkness in the thickets, it looked
almost light too. But again the trees
closed over head; the stems stood thickly
round; the light waned faster and faster.
Suddenly Jack stopped, and picked up
something off the ground.
"Here's your bow, Fred," said he.
"We have got back to the great beech-
tree again that we stopped under before,
and where you lost it."
"What shall we do ?" exclaimed Fred.
"Which way to turn I have no notion in
"I wish we had all been at Jericho
before we began that hateful game of
Robin Hood !" sighed poor Jack. I am
tired to death, and starving with hunger;
and I dare say they are all happy and
comfortable at tea, never thinking of us."
That I am sure you don't think. You
are only grumbling because you are
miserable. It is very horrid really. Stop!
listen! I heard some one shouting. They
are looking for us, depend upon it. That
was Harry's voice, I- am certain. Hulloah!
We are here! Hulloah!"
Jack jumped up, and shouted with all
his might too. Then they listened, but
all was silent.
Again there came a sound on the wind,
ROBIN HOOD AND ALLAN-A-DALE.
but it was a strange one, not like a
human voice; still Fred returned it, so
did Jack, but his voice was quavering
Again they listened, almost holding
their breath. The sounds came nearer,
but now they sounded like hoarse cries
and discordant shrieks. Jack trembled,
and threw his arms round Fred, declaring
they should be murdered.
They were standing under the large
tree, and with one accord they began to
climb it. Their fear gave them such
strength that they had mounted to the
top of the huge trunk, and stationed
themselves in the spreading arms, in a
wonderfully short space of time.
Nearer and nearer came the strange
sounds. There was a crashing among
the leaves and branches, and there was a
sound as of many feet. Jack had a hor-
rible fear that witches and bogies were
true after all. They crouched down
among the leaves, and remained quite still.
78 COUNTRY PLEASURES.
I say, Fred, I see a light among the
trees," whispered Jack. "What can it
Fred slowly and cautiously turned his
head. "Why, it's the moon rising!" he
answered. "How late it is getting! What
is that moving under the tree ?"
"Oh! I see what it all means," said
Jack, finding his voice again. It's a
herd of forest pigs all the time. I might
have thought of that, only they did make
such an extraordinary set of noises. Look
at them routing about in the moon-
"What a number of them, and what a
hideous noise they make! I'm so tired,
that I do believe I could go to sleep in
this tree if they would but leave off."
"So could I. I am uncommonly snug
here in this forked branch, only for those
pigs. Get along, you ugly brutes !" said
Jack, throwing a stick down, for which
they cared very little.
Fred broke off a large branch, and
ROBIN HOOD AND ALLAN-A-DALE. 79
THE MYSTERY EXPLAINED
THE MYSTERY EXPLAINED.
80 COUNTRY PLEASURES.
aimed it at one; but the gentleman thus
attacked only looked up, and they saw his
knowing little eye twinkle in the moon-
"I say, Fred, it is very like Harry's
voice, is it not? He will be highly
flattered, I am sure, when he hears that
you were 'quite certain' you heard him
"Yes, if he ever sees us again," said
Fred; but if we stop sitting here in this
tree, I don't think there is much chance
he will for some time. I vote for clam-
bering down and trying our chance in
Very well," answered Jack. Come
They were soon on the ground again,
and clear of the offending pigs; and now
the moon's rays streamed through the
trees, and they could see about them
almost as well as in the daylight.
Now let us collect our senses," said
Fred. We went that way, and it led us
ROBIN HOOD AND ALLAN-A-DALE. 81
wrong. Let us take just the opposite
now, and take care to go straight on."
They set off. Having walked ten
minutes the trees became thinner, and
before long ceased altogether; and they
found themselves on the borders of a wide
grassy space, quite bare and open, which
Jack said he never remembered to have
seen before. The moonlight made every
object visible, and here and there pools of
water glittered among the grass. They
stood looking before them and feeling
Look across the open ground to where
you see a dark line of trees, Jack," said
Fred. "Does it not seem to you that
there is a roof of a cottage or farm-house
just there ? I even fancy I see a light in
I see it quite plain," said Jack. What
a good thing! We must get there as
fast as we can, knock at the door, and
ask for a night's lodging. As to getting
home to-night, I give it up."
82 COUNTRY PLEASURES.
I don't. We must ask them to put
us in the way, and then go on there as
fast as possible. They will be in a fright
about us, and fancy all sorts of things, if
Well," replied Jack, if we can get a
piece of bread and cheese, or something;
but I'm afraid that is not a light in a
window, but only the moon glancing on
the glass; and the people will all be in
"Anyhow let us get on," said Fred.
They began to walk across the grass,
keeping the welcome roof, with its glancing
window beneath it, in view, and steering
their course straight towards it; but they
had not advanced above a hundred yards
when the ground began to feel alarmingly
soft beneath their feet. Still they could
not bear to stop, but hoping this was only
a marshy spot, and that they should soon
find firm footing again, they continued
on their way, till suddenly Fred sank
above his ankles, and Jack-who looked
ROBIN HOOD AND ALLAN-A-DALE. 83
at nothing but the roof opposite to his
eyes-passing him, sank to his knees.
At the same moment a thick cloud ob-
scured the moon, and the whole scene
became shrouded in darkness. Jack's
heart failed him utterly, and he cried out
to Fred to save him, for he was sinking
deeper and deeper.
Keep up your courage, or it's all over
with us," said Fred in a low, but firm,
voice. Stretch out your hand and try
to catch mine. There now! We must
face about and try to get on firm ground
again. We must fight for it, Jack. It
won't do to give up."
Hand in hand the two boys floundered
back towards the spot they had quitted;
pulling their feet out of the holes, into
which they continually sank, with great
difficulty, and often losing their shoes,
which they had to stop and pick up. At
every step, however, the ground became
firmer, and just as Fred said so in an
encouraging voice, they both fell flat on
their faces over the large trunk of a fallen
Fred was up again in a moment, but
poor Jack lay motionless, and any one
might have believed he was dead, only
that he soon began to bemoan himself in
a lamentable voice.
"I wish Robin Hood and all his men
had been at Jericho, as I said before, and
that all the deer in the forest had been
at the bottom of the sea, before we ran
after them. I believe that we shall die
in this miserable place. I'm tired to
death, and I hurt my leg horribly when
we fell, and my shoes are full of mud,
and I'm starving with hunger, and-"
Fred could not help laughing, though
he was in a sufficiently wretched plight
Come, Jack!" he cried, get up. At
all events, we have got out of that bog.
We were really in a bad state there.
Look up, I say. The moon has come out
again, and there are plenty of fallen trees