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year, though he was up early and down" There's no fears of slatterns in your
woman: she would have cut off her hand Mrs. Wynyate was a very conscientious and cast it into the fire for what she believed to be right; but then she would have done it also by any of her children, which is not FISHING IN THE HERON'S POOL. exactly the same thing-inflicting martyrTHERE was a good deal of wood cut the it, as some people seem to think. dom is not quite so meritorious as enduring next spring, and the sound of the axes re- at work from morning till night, never sparsounded through the fields and woods. ing herself in any toil or trouble; it was She was Amyas went daily round among the wood- wonderful how one pair of hands got cutters, secretly lamenting over each tree through so much. as it fell, with a feeling as if it had been a virtuous woman in Proverbs, and refused She laboured like the living thing. Lettie accompanied him when-herself every indulgence and every pasever she could get away, insisting consci-time; but she had been brought up in the entiously on climbing each fallen trunk, most rigid Methodist creed: she had an unand being jumped down at the highest end. fortunate temper, and it was aggravated inHer uncle submitted with unwearied pa- stead of mended by her conviction that it tience; indeed if he had not been so patient was her duty to be stern. Discipline was it would have been better for the farm. much more thought of fifty years ago, Every labourer on the estate knew that it "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a was impossible to put the "Master" out; child, but the rod of correction shall drive if a man was so old and infirm that no one it out for him," as she put it, and the rod else would employ him, that was a reason why Amyas kept him on; if a boy was too was therefore in constant requisition. young to be of much use to the neighbour ing farmers, and wanted work, Amyas found a place for him. It would have taken a large fortune to pursue farming on such principles.
The two went on their devious way: Amyas with his hands clasped behind him and his meditative look; Lettie springing about like a parched pea, scrambling up a hedge for a flower, poking into the bushes after a nest, and coming up to explain her prizes in words which tumbled over each other from their eager interest. He saw more than she did, in spite of those bright little eyes of hers.
"That's a night-jar a-making that noise. Look at those ants marching like a regiment of soldiers!"
Her grandmother generally, however, insisted on some abominable bit of hemming, some grievous button-holes, just at the critical moment. She did not approve of the saturnalia of enjoyment consequent on going out with uncle Amyas.
Why, that hankercher's grimed with dirt, Lettice, it's been so long about! I suppose you'll have finished that bit o' knitting by the time you're forty. Little girls should take to their needle, Amyas; I won't have ye muddle away the child's time with such nonsense. What's night-jars to her? and she gets in such a mess. her no end o' untidy ways." You'll learn "Why, ye keep her always as neat as a new pin, mother," said Amyas, smiling.
of grief and wailing and gnashing of teeth The Sabbath-day had always been a day to her children under her grim creed; but her sons had now pretty nearly grown beyond her power; she had almost come, inture from whom no result could be expectdeed, to regard man as a stiff-necked creaed, but Lettice was a little girl whom it was her duty to mould, and it would be her fault if this small vessel of wrath was not rescued from reprobation. Sad was the sobbing, the putting in closets, the whipping over the stiff Methodist catechism, each point of doctrine proved by a string of texts, the chapter and verse given to each, and all to be at her hymns, and who liked her chapter learnt accurately; for Lettice, quick enough and her psalm, never could accomplish her seized by a child-it is very open to the "answers." Any concrete image may be beauty of melody and rhythm, but an abstract metaphysical proposition is to it a mere string of unintelligible words which might as well be in Greek, and terrible dren (fifty years ago). were these engines of oppression for chil
likes it," said her grandmother, in answer "She can learn fast enough when she to Amyas's doubtful remonstrances. heerd her singing no end o' silly nonsense "I Ned had teached her only the t'other day," which was true enough, i. e., she could recollect when there was anything for her yond Mrs. Wynyate's comprehension, who memory to take hold of; but this was behonestly considered the child very naughty,
"Dear heart, but 'tis a dreadful sudden take off; I trust he had assurance of his soul. I know he was ever one of the elect from his youth up," replied Mrs. Wynyate. Fifteen miles in those days was such a gulf that they rarely had any intercourse with Amos King, who, besides, had given his nephew to understand that he considered him as little better than a castaway, one who had put his hand to the plough and taken it away again. In spite of this es
and punished her accordingly. One Sunday | send word to bid me to the funeral, mothevening, her task still undone, the tearful er," said Amyas a day or two after. Lettie took refuge with her book by her uncle, who was sitting meditatively in the orchard; but she was not attending, as she ought to have been doing, to "The other benefits that we receive with justification are adoption and regeneration," the milk for babes of seven years and upwards," which she had to learn. As she sat on her three-legged cricket" by Amyas's side her quick little eyes caught sight at one moment of a duck, followed by her brood, going down to the pond; at another the coo-trangement, however, it was a sad expediing of the pigeons in the high trees above their heads made her look up.
"Isn't it very wicked of the birds, uncle Amyas, doing same as they does upon week days, like that?" said she at last, feeling that her case was hard, and that if they were allowed to play she ought, at least, to have the comforts of self-righteousness, and pride of looking down on their evil ways.
tion to Amyas's affectionate nature: he felt as if he ought not to have left the old man so long without a sign, and it was with a sore heart that he prepared to ride over one evening, to return the next day after the ceremony.
Mrs. Wynyate was doubly busy in his absence, and Lettie had a sort of holiday. At the bottom of the orchard was a wild al-tangle of hawthorn and holly, a secluded place where the child used to take refuge when she was afraid of being seen in the farmyard. Ned, too, when he was at home from school, had his own operations there: he was a born sportsman, and every hedge
Amyas was so modest a man that he ways doubted his own judgment when opposed to others, and he had a beautiful respect for his mother, whom he really loved in spite of her sternness: moreover, he was too uncertain in his doubts as to the truth of her doctrines to formularise his opposi-row at the Woodhouse being a miniature tion even to himself, and he was puzzled.
copse, there was a good deal of game about, none of which came amiss to him: rabbits, weasels, pike and eel fishing, rat-hunts in the big barn, nestes of wild-fowl, on which Lettie reported progress with the utmost zeal.
It was the last day of his holidays, and a beautiful afternoon, when he came out to look for her, his mouth full of lines, both hands occupied with bait, and a landing-net over his shoulder. She was a pleasant little companion, and though he felt it to be a condescension on his part, he liked to have her with him.
There were some tall white lilies in the neglected bit of garden at the upper end of the orchard; they grew among the thorns and thistles and great dock-leaves, and looked almost more striking in their desolate beauty than set in trim borders. Lettie was sitting before them with her doll in her arms, talking and answering herself eagerly, quite unconscious that any one was near. A whole story seemed to be enacting:
Luckily, Lettie was not logical, or she might have asked, like a celebrated prelate of late, whether something of the same kind might not be said in behalf of the children. Some of the most cruel things in the world have been done by the most excellent people; mistakes, want of imagination, ignorance, inflict almost as much suffering as wickedness. The early inquisitors were most conscientious, benevolent men, only anxious for the souls of their victims; Luther directed that a child possessed by the devil should be drowned; Sir Matthew Hale burnt a witch, all upon the highest principles and Mrs. Wynyate made Lettie's life miserable from the sincerest desire to do right by the little girl's soul. Still, when we undertake the part of Providence to a child, it is perhaps well to make quite sure we have done our best to enlighten ourselves as to what is and what is not de- "What are you doing, Lettie?" said the sirable. boy, coming up, laughing, behind her. "Uncle Amos is dead sudden, and they "Who are you talking to? who are the
"And the white ladies they say to me and baby, Little girl, take her up tight in your arms, and we'll go and dance with the king and the queen, and we fly up in the air so high over the tops of the trees'
white ladies? Why, it sounds as if there | half-dead willow-trunk which stuck far out were a dozen of ye!"
The little girl blushed deeply. Children have a curious horror of being laughed at. "Who are the white ladies?" he repeated.
She pointed to the lilies; she did not like even so far to destroy the illusion as to name them.
And what were they telling ye about the dance with the king and the queen?" Uncle Ned," "You shouldn't laugh so, said she, indignantly, driven to bay; tell yourself tales at school; there's that one about the gentleman as went away in a ship and found the great bird and the diamonds, and the old man that sat upon his shoulders. What are diamonds, Uncle Ned?"
"No, we tell ourselves no tales except sometimes at dinner-time, and then we don't waste our time with rubbish stories about white ladies," said her uncle, in a "Now come down grand and moral mood. to the Heron's Pool: we'll set some nightlines," he added, making peace with this to him the most delightful occupation in the world.
It was a charming spot; the branches of the great oaks still left swept down close to the little gravelly shore; a heron stood contemplating life and the chance of a gudgeon on one leg at the upper end on a small spit of sand, and a dabchick was diving on the
May I go and paddle, Uncle Ted?" said Lettie, who was under strict orders never to go near the water by her little self, and for whom it therefore had a special attraction.
into the water, and was just stretching out
"Lettice, what are you doing there?
The child turned in terror, lost her hold on the slippery green moss, and tumbled into the deep water with a cry. Edward, who was close at hand, sprang up at the sound, and had plunged in and brought her to land almost before she sank. As he carried her home, dripping like himself from head to foot, Mrs. Wynyate, excessively angry with them both, followed behind, reproaching him with such effect, that whereas at first he had been both pained and penitent for what had happened, by the time they reached the house he was in as furious a state as his mother.
Danger! not a bit of it: the water wasn't up to my waist," he repeated. He was in an amphibious state of discipline between home and school, which made her cling the more to her waning authority. As for Lettie, she had torn and dirtied her frock and narrowly escaped drowning, two Even Amyas almost equally unpardonable offences, in her grandmother's eyes. could not have saved her this time had he reached home; she was whipped and put to bed, after which operation Mrs. Wynyate followed Ned, who had gone up to his own garret to change his wet clothes, and stood fiercely scolding over him all the time. He answered in her own tone, and she suddenly locked the door and left him supperless for the evening.
A little time afterwards, Amyas, coming in sadly from his uncle's funeral, found Lettie sobbing in an agony of fright and repent ance upstairs, while Ned, who had climbed out of the window of his garret prison, and let himself down by the old pear-tree against the wall, at the risk of his neck, was marching up and down the room with her, fuming at the injustice and absurdity of his mother's punishments.
He was much too busy to reply, but he nodded his head; and Lettie, to her infinite delight, unreproved, pulled off her shoes and stockings and walked slowly into the tiny stream which ran out at one end of the pool, and as she grew bolder into the lake itself. Presently, although she thought she was very careful, the tail of her frock dipped into the water behind, and she wrung it dry with much trouble: then the little white feet slipped upon a stone and the front fell into the mud, and the more she rubbed the worse the stains appeared; her grandmother's coming wrath "As if I couldn't get out of that room grew terrible in her mind the "you bad child" which was perpetually heard; but as easy enough! and as for Lettie, she'd never she knew all sins were alike in the eyes of a have fallen in a bit if it hadn't been for certain Draconian impartial justice, she mother calling of her in a voice as would now became reckless in her crimes, for the have frightened the dead! She blared at where was frock was past all hope of concealment. the little mayd like a polecat. I was close At last she spied a coot's nest, and creep-by-there wasn't no danger ing under the boughs she crawled along a the harm? She were with me fishing;
where could she be better, I'd like to know? him, and repeated the half-charm, halfAnd who's a right to fish (you letting of me) sooner nor me, I wonder?" cried Ned, passionately.
"And now my little Lettie's going to sleep, God bless her, and all will be right to-morrow!" And under the shadow of his wing she lay down to rest.
Injustice has generally a different effect on boys and girls: a little girl's conscience is much more active; the sense of justice is Uncle Amyas, are you there?" she much stronger in a boy. Lettie was over-started up once or twice to say; but he was whelmed with grief at her own wickedness in still standing at the window, waiting pabeing nearly drowned, Ned was furious at tiently till she was asleep, and looking out at the idea of punishing a misfortune, brought the deepening twilight. He had had a tryon, as he believed, by the judge herself. ing day, and would have been glad of a "It's mother as ought to be beat! I'll quiet evening; and here on his return he tell ye what, Amyas, I won't stand it any found that in the course of her one day's longer; I've been thinking of it this age. driving, his mother had contrived to upset I'll go out somewhere, into a trade or summat. the coach: a painful proof, which he could I'll not stay any more, and be sat upon by have dispensed with, that he was master in my mother rampaging about like anything: his own household. And then his thoughts I'm a man now, I'm a'most sixteen! went back to the scene at his uncle's funeral: when the will was opened after their return from the churchyard, it was found, to his astonishment, that the old man, who had quarrelled with his daughter and her husband, had left Amyas all his property. He had immediately taken steps to transfer the whole to his unlucky cousin, who scarcely thanked him, but observed coldly that "so far as she could see he had only done his duty like as everybody ought to do." And Amyas was quite of the same mind, and thought also that such a self-evident thing as one's duty was the only one possible and required no thanks..
Lettie's tears fell faster at these terrible threats. Amyas was silent.
"We'll talk of it all to-morrow, Ned," he said at last, quietly. "If you're a man you should behave as one, and not speak as you did to mother but now. You'd best perhaps go to bed now; I'll fetch the key and your supper up here. Quiet the little one a bit," he whispered kindly, as he went out; see, she's like to go into a fit she's so flustered, and be thankful, my boy: we should have been bad off if aught had befallen her." Ned's under lip had begun to quiver, and it was evident that if it had not been for his manhood the hardened sinner It was not the property that now was in would, by this time, have burst out crying. his mind: he was thinking regretfully that Amyas found his mother sternly prepar- he should never see the old man again. ing supper, with a pretence to herself that" And I could have asked him help find a all was right upstairs, and that her conduct place for Ned," said he to himself. He was had been most judicious. not so alarmed about the wickedness of the "And now ye tell me about yer uncle," world as his mother, but the boy was full said she as he took the basin of bread-and-young yet to be sent out to fare for himself, milk which she offered him and turned to and he began to inquire whether he were carry it up stairs. "I warn yer, Amyas, not himself to blame in the management of it's just flying in the face of Providence" the lad: it somehow never seemed to occur (whatever that curious process may be), to him to find fault with anybody but himfor you to give them children their own self. A very tender conscience becomes way i' that fashion." occasionally an unconscionable tyrant.
Dear mother," he answered quietly, as he went out, "they're not having their own way: Ned is going to bed with a sore heart, and the little 'un's frightened half out o' her wits; they'll not do it again anyhow."
The two culprits fed together in silence, Lettice hardly touching the food, and the boy went off to bed.
And now, my little 'un, what's that pretty hymn-carol you says: It was not down to housen gay, that Christ a child came for to stay,' ," said Amyas, looking at the small flushed, tear-stained face.
The child knelt up, looking like an infant Samuel, laid her head tenderly against
"And you haven't telled me anything yet about Amos!" said his mother, when he came down stairs. "And how did he die? and how were it with his soul, taken off so sudden? And about his will, what have he a done with all that nice little bit o' property as he owned?" she went on, somewhat glad to escape out of the "ignorant present" of the concerns about her.
And Amyas told her everything excepting the important part of his day's work, and the change he had made in the will. What was the use of discussing the matter?
"I did think as he'd a left you or me summat out o' all that money," said Mrs.
Wynyate, somewhat discontentedly, "and his daughter marrying to disoblige her family."
Surely, mother, it's his own child a man should leave his fortune to, if he's got one," replied Amyas, quietly, as he went off to bed. "And Susan have a sent you the old cuckoo-clock as were your father's, you know, as a keepsake."
"Well, and I shall be glad for to see its old face again, and hear the chime. I mind that cuckoo singing that way ever sin I were a child — eh, what a many years ago! said Mrs. Wynyate, with unwonted feeling. And Amyas did not mention that when he had asked for this little waif out of the property which he had given up, as a recollection for his mother, Mrs. Susan had demurred at parting with it, and had only finally yielded because, as she said, "after all, we've got a better one at home, and it loses so as I don't know as we've any use for it in the kitchen here." Amyas was a perfect non-conductor for all cross words or unkind actions: they all died a natural death and were buried when they reached him.
The next morning Ned was firm in his fancy to leave home, and Amyas could not but agree, though it went to his heart to part with the boy. He could not afford to keep him longer at school, and there was no room for him in the Wynyate household, where the feud between him and his mother was always smouldering. She expected the submission of a child from the great lad, where her efforts of strong-willed, impotent authority were always made without the hope that the master of the house would stand by her in her unreasonable claims. She had attempted the same with her husband about the public-house, and with her daughter about her acquaintance and her marriage, never considering the use of laying down positive commands which she had no power to enforce. As with many other people, there was a confusion in her thoughts between her own will and the will of heaven she had an unfortunate temper, and she often could not distinguish between its decrees and those of Providence; her own opinion and abstract right were honestly the same in her eyes, and there is evidently positive impiety in viewing a thing or acting differently from abstract right.
So young Ned's a-goin' to leave us! I thowt as it weren't for nowt as I heerd the old ash-tree a-groanin' by our door last night," said the old blind man next day, when the great event was announced to him. "I bean't sure as it isn't quite right; he's the littlest on 'um, but he's ever been
the most rumbustical: and when childer takes to their ranties, seems as if we'd no call for to kip 'um at home any more. So dunnot ye cry, my little mayd, he'll do well enough. If they can't be comf'able in their nestes at home, my old woman used allays for to zay zays she, Why, let 'um goo; they must jist fight along like as we did afore 'um.' 'Tis like the birds: when they're big enough they just flies away from the old 'uns, and it's a chance they never sees 'um again, or else how ever could there be folk enough out in the wide world for to make all things goo?"
"But what shall I do without him, Dannel?" said the tender-hearted Lettie, not at all consoled by this philosophic view of the demands of humanity upon man. She looked very pale and shaken with the performances of the day before.
He'll come back fast enough, child: an he's ailing or sorrowful, the old place will look fair in his eyes when he's a long way off, and 'twill have long strings to his heart for to pull it back. Don't ye be afraid, poor dear heart, he'll rub along."
LETTIE'S SCHOOLMASTERS. AMYAS had so few ties with the outer world that it was with great difficulty a small place as clerk, without any salary, was at length found for Edward at a little seaport town some twenty miles away.
The boy's courage rather failed when he found himself committed to leaving home, but his dignity held him up, and when the time at last arrived, he went off apparently undismayed, and of good courage. Amyas was, indeed, the most distressed of the two, which gave the lad a reason for heroism and a feeling of dignity as the strong man of the family.
"Don't cry!" said he, majestically, to Lettice, who hung round him, drowned in tears, as if he had been going to the antipodes. "I dare say you'll all do pretty well in a short time, little 'un, without me. You'll get over it, Lettie, in a little while," he repeated; "and mind yer don't forget the terrier pups: they're to be ready afore I come home again for rabbiting, you'll recollect?" And as he drove off in the taxed-cart to join the coach, he called out once more to his sorrowing relatives, "You'll not forget the pups!
The boy, indeed, would have been shocked to see how well everything went on at the Woodhouse after his important departure. Lettie's tender little heart never quite forgot him, and in her solitary plays " Uncle