Part 3 out of 10
any lamb to be gotten? She said that Sir Arthur was remarkably fond of
lamb, and that she wished she could get a quarter for him. Immediately
he sallied into his kitchen, as soon as the idea struck him, and asked a
shepherd, who was waiting there, whether he knew of a nice fat lamb to be
had anywhere in the neighbourhood.
"I know of one," cried Barbara. "Susan Price has a pet lamb that's as
fat as fat could be." The attorney easily caught at these words, and
speedily devised a scheme for obtaining Susan's lamb for nothing.
It would be something strange if an attorney of his talents and standing
was not an over-match for Simple Susan. He prowled forth in search of
his prey. He found Susan packing up her father's little wardrobe; and
when she looked up as she knelt, he saw that she had been in tears.
"How is your mother to-day, Susan?" inquired the attorney.
"Worse, sir. My father goes to-morrow."
"That's a pity."
"It can't be helped," said Susan, with a sigh.
"It can't be helped--how do you know that?" said Case.
"Sir, DEAR sir!" cried she, looking up at him, and a sudden ray of hope
beamed in her ingenuous countenance.
"And if YOU could help it, Susan?" said he. Susan clasped her hands in
silence, more expressive than words. "You CAN help it, Susan." She
started up in an ecstasy. "What would you give now to have your father
at home for a whole week longer?"
"Anything!--but I have nothing."
"Yes, but you have, a lamb," said the hard-hearted attorney.
"My poor little lamb!" said Susan; "but what can that do?"
"What good can any lamb do? Is not lamb good to eat? Why do you look so
pale, girl? Are not sheep killed every day, and don't you eat mutton?
Is your lamb better than anybody else's, think you?"
"I don't know," said Susan, "but I love it better."
"More fool you," said he.
"It feeds out of hand, it follows me about; I have always taken care of
it; my mother gave it to me."
"Well, say no more about it, then," he cynically observed; "if you love
your lamb better than both your father and your mother, keep it, and good
morning to you."
"Stay, oh stay!" cried Susan, catching the skirt of his coat with an
eager, trembling hand;--"a whole week, did you say? My mother may get
better in that time. No, I do not love my lamb half so well." The
struggle of her mind ceased, and with a placid countenance and calm
voice, "take the lamb," said she.
"Where is it?" said the attorney.
"Grazing in the meadow, by the river side."
"It must be brought up before night-fall for the butcher, remember."
"I shall not forget it," said Susan, steadily.
As soon, however, as her persecutor turned his back and quitted the
house, Susan sat down, and hid her face in her hands. She was soon
aroused by the sound of her mother's feeble voice, who was calling Susan
from the inner room where she lay. Susan went in; but did not undraw the
curtain as she stood beside the bed.
"Are you there, love? Undraw the curtain, that I may see you, and tell
me;--I thought I heard some strange voice just now talking to my child.
Something's amiss, Susan," said her mother, raising herself as well as
she was able in the bed, to examine her daughter's countenance.
"Would you think it amiss, then, my dear mother," said Susan, stooping to
kiss her--"would you think it amiss, if my father was to stay with us a
"Susan! you don't say so?"
"He is, indeed, a whole week;--but how burning hot your hand is still."
"Are you sure he will stay?" inquired her mother. "How do you know? Who
told you so? Tell me all quick."
"Attorney Case told me so; he can get him a week's longer leave of
absence, and he has promised he will."
"God bless him for it, for ever and ever!" said the poor woman, joining
her hands. "May the blessing of heaven be with him!"
Susan closed the curtains, and was silent. She COULD NOT SAY AMEN. She
was called out of the room at this moment, for a messenger was come from
the Abbey for the bread-bills. It was she who always made out the bills,
for though she had not a great number of lessons from the writing-master,
she had taken so much pains to learn that she could write a very neat,
legible hand, and she found this very useful. She was not, to be sure,
particularly inclined to draw out a long bill at this instant, but
business must be done. She set to work, ruled her lines for the pounds,
shillings and pence, made out the bill for the Abbey, and despatched the
impatient messenger. She then resolved to make out all the bills for the
neighbours, who had many of them taken a few loaves and rolls of her
baking. "I had better get all my business finished," said she to
herself, "before I go down to the meadow to take leave of my poor lamb."
This was sooner said than done, for she found that she had a great number
of bills to write, and the slate on which she had entered the account was
not immediately to be found; and when it was found the figures were
almost rubbed out. Barbara had sat down upon it. Susan pored over the
number of loaves, and the names of the persons who took them; and she
wrote and cast up sums, and corrected and re-corrected them, till her
head grew quite puzzled.
The table was covered with little square bits of paper, on which she had
been writing bills over and over again, when her father came in with a
bill in his hand. "How's this, Susan?" said he. "How can ye be so
careless, child? What is your head running upon? Here, look at the bill
you were sending up to the Abbey? I met the messenger, and luckily asked
to see how much it was. Look at it."
Susan looked and blushed; it was written, "Sir Arthur Somers, to John
Price, debtor, six dozen LAMBS, so much." She altered it, and returned
it to her father; but he had taken up some of the papers which lay upon
the table. "What are all these, child?"
"Some of them are wrong, and I've written them out again," said Susan.
"Some of them! All of them, I think, seem to be wrong, if I can read,"
said her father, rather angrily, and he pointed out to her sundry strange
mistakes. Her head, indeed, had been running upon her poor lamb. She
corrected all the mistakes with so much patience, and bore to be blamed
with so much good humour, that her father at last said, that it was
impossible ever to scold Susan, without being in the wrong at the last.
As soon as all was set right, Price took the bills, and said he would go
round to the neighbours, and collect the money himself; for that he
should be very proud to have it to say to them, that it was all earned by
his own little daughter.
Susan resolved to keep the pleasure of telling him of his week's reprieve
till he should come home to sup, as he had promised to do, in her
mother's room. She was not sorry to hear him sigh as he passed the
knapsack, which she had been packing up for his journey. "How delighted
he will be when he hears the good news!" said she, to herself; "but I
know he will be a little sorry too for my poor lamb."
As Susan had now settled all her business, she thought she could have
time to go down to the meadow by the river side to see her favourite; but
just as she had tied on her straw hat the village clock struck four, and
this was the hour at which she always went to fetch her little brothers
home from a dame-school near the village. She knew that they would be
disappointed, if she was later than usual, and she did not like to keep
them waiting, because they were very patient, good boys; so she put off
the visit to her lamb, and went immediately for her brothers.
Ev'n in the spring and playtime of the year,
That calls th' unwonted villager abroad,
With all her little ones, a sportive train,
To gather king-cups in the yellow mead,
And prink their heads with daisies.
The dame-school, which was about a mile from the hamlet, was not a showy
edifice; but it was reverenced as much by the young race of village
scholars as if it had been the most stately mansion in the land; it was a
low roofed, long, thatched tenement, sheltered by a few reverend oaks,
under which many generations of hopeful children had gambolled in their
The close shaven green, which sloped down from the hatch-door of the
schoolroom, was paled round with a rude paling, which, though decayed in
some parts by time, was not in any place broken by violence.
The place bespoke order and peace. The dame who governed was well
obeyed, because she was just and well beloved, and because she was ever
glad to give well earned praise and pleasure to her little subjects.
Susan had once been under her gentle dominion, and had been deservedly
her favourite scholar. The dame often cited her as the best example to
the succeeding tribe of emulous youngsters. She had scarcely opened the
wicket which separated the green before the schoolroom door from the
lane, when she heard the merry voices of the children, and saw the little
troup issuing from the hatchway, and spreading over the green.
"Oh, there's Susan!" cried her two little brothers, running, leaping, and
bounding up to her; and many of the other rosy girls and boys crowded
round her, to talk of their plays; for Susan was easily interested in all
that made others happy; but she could not make them comprehend, that, if
they all spoke at once it was not possible that she could hear what was
The voices were still raised one above another, all eager to establish
some important observation about ninepins, or marbles, or tops, or bows
and arrows, when suddenly music was heard and the crowd was silenced.
The music seemed to be near the spot where the children were standing,
and they looked round to see whence it could come. Susan pointed to the
great oak-tree, and they beheld, seated under its shade, an old man
playing upon his harp. The children all approached--at first timidly,
for the sounds were solemn; but as the harper heard their little
footsteps coming towards him, he changed his hand and played one of his
most lively tunes. The circle closed, and pressed nearer and nearer to
him; some who were in the foremost row whispered to each other, "He is
blind!" "What a pity!" and "He looks very poor,--what a ragged coat he
wears!" said others. "He must be very old, for all his hair is white;
and he must have travelled a great way, for his shoes are quite worn
out," observed another.
All these remarks were made whilst he was tuning his harp, for when he
once more began to play, not a word was uttered. He seemed pleased by
their simple exclamations of wonder and delight, and, eager to amuse his
young audience, he played now a gay and now a pathetic air, to suit their
Susan's voice, which was soft and sweet, expressive of gentleness and
good nature, caught his ear the moment she spoke. He turned his face
eagerly to the place where she stood; and it was observed, that whenever
she said that she liked any tune particularly he played it over again.
"I am blind," said the old man, "and cannot see your faces; but I know
you all asunder by your voices, and I can guess pretty well at all your
humours and characters by your voices."
"Can you so, indeed?" cried Susan's little brother William, who had
stationed himself between the old man's knees. "Then you heard MY sister
Susan speak just now. Can you tell us what sort of person she is?"
"That I can, I think, without being a conjurer," said the old man,
lifting the boy up on his knee; "YOUR sister Susan is good-natured." The
boy clapped his hands. "And good-tempered." "RIGHT," said little
William, with a louder clap of applause. "And very fond of the little
boy who sits upon my knee." "O right! right! quite right!" exclaimed the
child, and "quite right" echoed on all sides.
"But how came you to know so much, when you are blind?" said William,
examining the old man attentively.
"Hush," said John, who was a year older than his brother, and very sage,
"you should not put him in mind of his being blind."
"Though I am blind," said the harper, "I can hear, you know, and I heard
from your sister herself all that I told you of her, that she was good-
tempered and good-natured and fond of you."
"Oh, that's wrong--you did not hear all that from herself, I'm sure,"
said John, "for nobody ever hears her praising herself."
"Did not I hear her tell you," said the harper, "when you first came
round me, that she was in a great hurry to go home, but that she would
stay a little while, since you wished it so much? Was not that good-
natured? And when you said you did not like the tune she liked best, she
was not angry with you, but said, 'Then play William's first, if you
please,'--was not that good-tempered?"
"Oh," interrupted William, "it's all true; but how did you find out that
she was fond of me?"
"That is such a difficult question," said the harper, "that I must take
time to consider." The harper tuned his instrument, as he pondered, or
seemed to ponder: and at this instant, two boys who had been searching
for birds' nests in the hedges, and who had heard the sound of the harp,
came blustering up, and pushing their way through the circle, one of them
exclaimed, "What's going on here? Who are you, my old fellow? A blind
harper! Well, play us a tune, if you can play ever a good one--play me--
let's see, what shall he play, Bob?" added he turning to his companion.
"Bumper Squire Jones."
The old man, though he did not seem quite pleased with the peremptory
manner of the request, played, as he was desired, "Bumper Squire Jones";
and several other tunes were afterwards bespoke by the same rough and
The little children shrunk back in timid silence, and eyed the brutal boy
with dislike. This boy was the son of Attorney Case; and as his father
had neglected to correct his temper when he was a child, as he grew up it
became insufferable. All who were younger and weaker than himself,
dreaded his approach, and detested him as a tyrant.
When the old harper was so tired that he could play no more, a lad, who
usually carried his harp for him, and who was within call, came up, and
held his master's hat to the company, saying, "Will you be pleased to
remember us?" The children readily produced their halfpence, and thought
their wealth well bestowed upon this poor, good-natured man, who had
taken so much pains to entertain them, better even than upon the
gingerbread woman, whose stall they loved to frequent. The hat was held
some time to the attorney's son before he chose to see it. At last he
put his hand surlily into his waistcoat pocket and pulled out a shilling.
There were sixpennyworth of halfpence in the hat. "I'll take these
halfpence," said he, "and here's a shilling for you."
"God bless you, sir," said the lad; but as he took the shilling which the
young gentleman had slily put INTO THE BLIND MAN'S HAND, he saw that it
was not worth one farthing. "I am afraid it is not good, sir," said the
lad, whose business it was to examine the money for his master.
"I am afraid, then, you'll get no other," said young Case, with an
"It never will do, sir," persisted the lad; "look at it yourself; the
edges are all yellow! you can see the copper through it quite plain.
Sir, nobody will take it from us."
"That's your affair," said the brutal boy, pushing away his hand. "You
may pass it, you know, as well as I do, if you look sharp. You have
taken it from me, and I shan't take it back again, I promise you."
A whisper of "that's very unjust," was heard. The little assembly,
though under evident constraint, could no longer suppress their
"Who says it's unjust?" cried the tyrant, sternly, looking down upon his
Susan's little brothers had held her gown fast, to prevent her from
moving at the beginning of this contest, and she was now so much
interested to see the end of it, that she stood still, without making any
"Is anyone here amongst yourselves a judge of silver?" said the old man.
"Yes, here's the butcher's boy," said the attorney's son; "show it to
him." He was a sickly-looking boy, and of a remarkably peaceful
disposition. Young Case fancied that he would be afraid to give judgment
against him. However, after some moments' hesitation, and after turning
the shilling round several times, he pronounced, "that, as far as his
judgment went, but he did not pretend to be a downright CERTAIN SURE of
it, the shilling was not over and above good." Then to Susan, to screen
himself from manifest danger, for the attorney's son looked upon him with
a vengeful mien, "But here's Susan here, who understands silver a great
deal better than I do; she takes a power of it for bread, you know."
"I'll leave it to her," said the old harper; "if she says the shilling is
good, keep it, Jack." The shilling was handed to Susan, who, though she
had with becoming modesty forborne all interference, did not hesitate,
when she was called upon, to speak the truth: "I think that this
shilling is a bad one," said she; and the gentle but firm tone in which
she pronounced the words, for a moment awed and silenced the angry and
brutal boy. "There's another, then," cried he; "I have sixpences and
shillings too in plenty, thank my stars."
Susan now walked away with her two little brothers, and all the other
children separated to go to their several homes. The old harper called
to Susan, and begged, that, if she was going towards the village, she
would be so kind as to show him the way. His lad took up his harp, and
little William took the old man by the hand. "I'll lead him, I can lead
him," said he; and John ran on before them, to gather king-cups in the
There was a small rivulet, which they had to cross, and as a plank which
served for a bridge over it was rather narrow, Susan was afraid to trust
the old blind man to his little conductor; she therefore went on the
tottering plank first herself, and then led the old harper carefully
over. They were now come to a gate, which opened upon the high road to
the village. "There is the high road straight before you," said Susan to
the lad, who was carrying his master's harp; "you can't miss it. Now I
must bid you a good evening; for I'm in a great hurry to get home, and
must go the short way across the fields here, which would not be so
pleasant for you, because of the stiles. Good-bye." The old harper
thanked her, and went along the high road, whilst she and her brothers
tripped on as fast as they could by the short way across the fields.
"Miss Somers, I am afraid, will be waiting for us," said Susan. "You
know she said she would call at six; and by the length of our shadows I'm
sure it is late."
When they came to their own cottage-door, they heard many voices, and
they saw, when they entered, several ladies standing in the kitchen.
"Come in, Susan; we thought you had quite forsaken us," said Miss Somers
to Susan, who advanced timidly. "I fancy you forgot that we promised to
pay you a visit this evening, but you need not blush so much about the
matter; there is no great harm done; we have only been here about five
minutes; and we have been well employed in admiring your neat garden, and
your orderly shelves. Is it you, Susan, who keeps these things in such
nice order?" continued Miss Somers, looking round the kitchen.
Before Susan could reply, little William pushed forward, and answered,
"Yes, ma'am, it is MY sister Susan that keeps everything neat; and she
always comes to school for us, too, which was what caused her to be so
"Because as how," continued John, "she was loth to refuse us the hearing
a blind man play on the harp. It was we kept her, and we hopes, ma'am,
as you ARE--as you SEEM so good, you won't take it amiss."
Miss Somers and her sister smiled at the affectionate simplicity with
which Susan's little brothers undertook her defence, and they were, from
this slight circumstance, disposed to think yet more favourably of a
family which seemed so well united. They took Susan along with them
through the village. Many neighbours came to their doors, and far from
envying, they all secretly wished Susan well as she passed.
"I fancy we shall find what we want here," said Miss Somers, stopping
before a shop, where unfolded sheets of pins and glass buttons glistened
in the window, and where rolls of many coloured ribbons appeared ranged
in tempting order. She went in, and was rejoiced to see the shelves at
the back of the counter well-furnished with glossy tiers of stuffs, and
gay, neat printed linens and calicoes.
"Now, Susan, choose yourself a gown," said Miss Somers; "you set an
example of industry and good conduct, of which we wish to take public
notice, for the benefit of others."
The shopkeeper, who was father to Susan's friend Rose, looked much
satisfied by this speech, and as if a compliment had been paid to
himself, bowed low to Miss Somers, and then with alertness, which a
London linen-draper might have admired, produced piece after piece of his
best goods to his young customer--unrolled, unfolded, held the bright
stuffs and calendered calicoes in various lights. Now stretched his arm
to the highest shelves, and brought down in a trice what seemed to be
beyond the reach of any but a giant's arm; now dived into some hidden
recess beneath the counter, and brought to light fresh beauties and fresh
Susan looked on with more indifference than most of the spectators. She
was thinking much of her lamb, and more of her father.
Miss Somers had put a bright guinea into her hand, and had bid her pay
for her own gown; but Susan, as she looked at the guinea, thought it was
a great deal of money to lay out upon herself, and she wished, but did
know like to ask, that she might keep it for a better purpose.
Some people are wholly inattentive to the lesser feelings, and incapable
of reading the countenances of those on whom they bestow their bounty.
Miss Somers and her sister were not of this roughly charitable class.
"She does not like any of these things," whispered Miss Somers to her
sister. Her sister observed, that Susan looked as if her thoughts were
far distant from gowns.
"If you don't fancy any of these," said the civil shopkeeper to Susan,
"we shall have a new assortment of calicoes for the spring season, soon
"Oh," interrupted Susan, with a smile and a blush; "these are all pretty,
and too good for me, but--"
"BUT what, Susan?" said Miss Somers. "Tell us what is passing in your
little mind." Susan hesitated. "Well then, we will not press you, you
are scarcely acquainted with us yet; when you are, you will not be
afraid, I hope, to speak your mind. Put this shining yellow counter,"
continued she, pointing to the guinea, "in your pocket, and make what use
of it you please. From what we know, and from what we have heard of you,
we are persuaded that you will make a good use of it."
"I think, madam," said the master of the shop, with a shrewd, good
natured look, "I could give a pretty good guess myself what will become
of that guinea; but I say nothing."
"No, that is right," said Miss Somers; "we leave Susan entirely at
liberty; and now we will not detain her any longer. Good night, Susan,
we shall soon come again to your neat cottage." Susan curtsied, with an
expressive look of gratitude, and with a modest frankness in her
countenance, which seemed to say, "I would tell you, and welcome, what I
want to do with the guinea; but I am not used to speak before so many
people. When you come to our cottage again you shall know all."
When Susan had departed, Miss Somers turned to the obliging shopkeeper,
who was folding up all the things he had opened. "You have had a great
deal of trouble with us, sir," said she; "and since Susan will not choose
a gown for herself, I must." She selected the prettiest; and whilst the
man was rolling it in paper, she asked him several questions about Susan
and her family, which he was delighted to answer, because he had now all
opportunity of saying as much as he wished in her praise.
"No later back, ma'am, than last May morning," said he, "as my daughter
Rose was telling us, Susan did a turn, in her quiet way, by her mother,
that would not displease you if you were to hear it. She was to have
been Queen of the May, which in our little village, amongst the younger
tribe, is a thing that is thought of a good deal; but Susan's mother was
ill, and Susan, after sitting up with her all night, would not leave her
in the morning, even when they brought the crown to her. She put the
crown upon my daughter Rose's head with her own hands; and, to be sure,
Rose loves her as well as if she was her own sister. But I don't speak
from partiality; for I am no relation whatever to the Prices--only a
well-wisher, as everyone, I believe, who knows them is. I'll send the
parcel up to the Abbey, shall I, ma'am?"
"If you please," said Miss Somers, "and, as soon as you receive your new
things from town, let us know. You will, I hope, find us good customers
and well-wishers," added she, with a smile; "for those who wish well to
their neighbours surely deserve to have well-wishers themselves."
A few words may encourage the benevolent passions, and may dispose people
to live in peace and happiness; a few words may set them at variance, and
may lead to misery and lawsuits. Attorney Case and Miss Somers were both
equally convinced of this, and their practice was uniformly consistent
with their principles.
But now to return to Susan. She put the bright guinea carefully into the
glove with the twelve shillings, which she had received from her
companions on May day. Besides this treasure, she calculated that the
amount of the bills for bread could not be less than eight or nine and
thirty shillings; and as her father was now sure of a week's reprieve,
she had great hopes that, by some means or other, it would be possible to
make up the whole sum necessary to pay for a substitute. "If that could
but be done," said she to herself, "how happy would my mother be. She
would be quite stout again, for she certainly is a great deal better,
since I told her that father would stay a week longer. Ah! but she would
not have blessed Attorney Case, though, if she had known about my poor
Susan took the path that led to the meadow by the waterside, resolved to
go by herself, and take leave of her innocent favourite. But she did not
pass by unperceived. Her little brothers were watching for her return,
and, as soon as they saw her, they ran after her, and overtook her as she
reached the meadow.
"What did that good lady want with you?" cried William; but, looking up
in his sister's face, he saw tears in her eyes, and he was silent, and
walked on quietly. Susan saw her lamb by the water-side. "Who are those
two men?" said William. "What are they going to do with DAISY?" The two
men were Attorney Case and the butcher. The butcher was feeling whether
the lamb was fat.
Susan sat down upon the bank in silent sorrow; her little brothers ran up
to the butcher, and demanded whether he was going to DO ANY HARM to the
lamb. The butcher did not answer, but the attorney replied, "It is not
your sister's lamb any longer; it's mine--mine to all intents and
"Yours!" cried the children, with terror; "and will you kill it?"
"That's the butcher's business."
The little boys now burst into piercing lamentations. They pushed away
the butcher's hand; they threw their arms round the neck of the lamb;
they kissed its forehead--it bleated. "It will not bleat to-morrow!"
said William, and he wept bitterly. The butcher looked aside, and
hastily rubbed his eyes with the corner of his blue apron.
The attorney stood unmoved; he pulled up the head of the lamb, which had
just stooped to crop a mouthful of clover. "I have no time to waste,"
said he; "butcher, you'll account with me. If it's fat--the sooner the
better. I've no more to say." And he walked off, deaf to the prayers of
the poor children.
As soon as the attorney was out of sight, Susan rose from the bank where
she was seated, came up to her lamb, and stooped to gather some of the
fresh dewy trefoil, to let it eat out of her hand for the last time.
Poor Daisy licked her well known hand.
"Now, let us go," said Susan.
"I'll wait as long as you please," said the butcher. Susan thanked him,
but walked away quickly, without looking again at her lamb. Her little
brothers begged the man to stay a few minutes, for they had gathered a
handful of blue speedwell and yellow crowsfoot, and they were decking the
poor animal. As it followed the boys through the village, the children
collected as they passed, and the butcher's own son was amongst the
number. Susan's steadiness about the bad shilling was full in this boy's
memory; it had saved him a beating. He went directly to his father to
beg the life of Susan's lamb.
"I was thinking about it, boy, myself," said the butcher; "it's a sin to
kill a PET LAMB, I'm thinking--any way, it's what I'm not used to, and
don't fancy doing, and I'll go and say as much to Attorney Case; but he's
a hard man; there's but one way to deal with him, and that's the way I
must take, though so be I shall be the loser thereby; but we'll say
nothing to the boys, for fear it might be the thing would not take; and
then it would be worse again to poor Susan, who is a good girl, and
always was, as well as she may, being of a good breed, and well reared
from the first."
"Come, lads, don't keep a crowd and a scandal about my door," continued
he, aloud, to the children; "turn the lamb in here, John, in the paddock,
for to-night, and go your ways home."
The crowd dispersed, but murmured, and the butcher went to the attorney.
"Seeing that all you want is a good, fat, tender lamb, for a present for
Sir Arthur, as you told me," said the butcher, "I could let you have
what's as good or better for your purpose."
"Better--if it's better, I'm ready to hear reason."
The butcher had choice, tender lamb, he said, fit to eat the next day;
and as Mr. Case was impatient to make his offering to Sir Arthur, he
accepted the butcher's proposal, though with such seeming reluctance,
that he actually squeezed out of him, before he would complete the
bargain, a bribe of a fine sweetbread.
In the meantime Susan's brothers ran home to tell her that her lamb was
put into the paddock for the night; this was all they knew, and even this
was some comfort to her. Rose, her good friend, was with her, and she
had before her the pleasure of telling her father of his week's reprieve.
Her mother was better, and even said she was determined to sit up to
supper in her wicker armchair.
Susan was getting this ready for supper, when little William, who was
standing at the house door, watching in the dusk for his father's return,
suddenly exclaimed, "Susan! if here is not our old man!"
"Yes," said the old harper, "I have found my way to you. The neighbours
were kind enough to show me whereabouts you lived; for, though I didn't
know your name, they guessed who I meant by what I said of you all."
Susan came to the door, and the old man was delighted to hear her speak
again. "If it would not be too bold," said he, "I'm a stranger in this
part of the country, and come from afar off. My boy has got a bed for
himself here in the village; but I have no place. Could you be so
charitable as to give an old blind man a night's lodging?" Susan said
she would step in and ask her mother; and she soon returned with an
answer, that he was heartily welcome, if he could sleep upon the
children's bed, which was but small.
The old man thankfully entered the hospitable cottage. He struck his
head against the low roof, as he stepped over the doorsill. "Many roofs
that are twice as high are not half so good," said he. Of this he had
just had experience at the house of the Attorney Case, while he had
asked, but had been roughly refused all assistance by Miss Barbara, who
was, according to her usual custom, standing staring at the hall door.
The old man's harp was set down in Farmer Price's kitchen, and he
promised to play a tune for the boys before they went to bed; their
mother giving them leave to sit up to supper with their father. He came
home with a sorrowful countenance; but how soon did it brighten, when
Susan, with a smile, said to him, "Father, we've good news for you! good
news for us all!--You have a whole week longer to stay with us; and
perhaps," continued she, putting her little purse into his hands,--
"perhaps with what's here, and the bread bills, and what may somehow be
got together before a week's at an end, we may make up the nine guineas
for the substitute, as they call him. Who knows, dearest mother, but we
may keep him with us for ever!" As she spoke, she threw her arms round
her father, who pressed her to his bosom without speaking, for his heart
was full. He was some little time before he could perfectly believe that
what he heard was true; but the revived smiles of his wife, the noisy joy
of his little boys, and the satisfaction that shone in Susan's
countenance, convinced him that he was not in a dream.
As they sat down to supper, the old harper was made welcome to his share
of the cheerful though frugal meal.
Susan's father, as soon as supper was finished, even before he would let
the harper play a tune for his boys, opened the little purse, which Susan
had given him. He was surprised at the sight of the twelve shillings,
and still more, when he came to the bottom of the purse, to see the
bright golden guinea.
"How did you come by all this money, Susan?" said he.
"Honestly and handsomely, that I'm sure of beforehand," said her proud
mother; "but how I can't make out, except by the baking. Hey, Susan is
this your first baking?"
"Oh, no, no," said her father, "I have her first baking snug here,
besides, in my pocket. I kept it for a surprise, to do your mother's
heart good, Susan. Here's twenty-nine shillings, and the Abbey bill,
which is not paid yet, comes to ten more. What think you of this, wife?
Have we not a right to be proud of our Susan? Why," continued he,
turning to the harper, "I ask your pardon for speaking out so free before
strangers in praise of my own, which I know is not mannerly; but the
truth is the fittest thing to be spoken, as I think, at all times;
therefore, here's your good health, Susan; why, by-and-by she'll be worth
her weight in gold--in silver at least. But tell us, child, how came you
by all this riches? and how comes it that I don't go to-morrow? All this
happy news makes me so gay in myself, I'm afraid I shall hardly
understand it rightly. But speak on, child--first bringing us a bottle
of the good mead you made last year from your own honey."
Susan did not much like to tell the history of her guinea-hen--of the
gown and of her poor lamb. Part of this would seem as if she was
vaunting of her own generosity, and part of it she did not like to
recollect. But her mother pressed to know the whole, and she related it
as simply as she could. When she came to the story of her lamb, her
voice faltered, and everybody present was touched. The old harper sighed
once, and cleared his throat several times. He then asked for his harp,
and, after tuning it for a considerable time, he recollected--for he had
often fits of absence--that he sent for it to play the tune he had
promised to the boys.
This harper came from a great distance, from the mountains of Wales, to
contend with several other competitors for a prize, which had been
advertised by a musical society about a year before this time. There was
to be a splendid ball given upon the occasion at Shrewsbury, which was
about five miles from our village. The prize was ten guineas for the
best performer on the harp, and the prize was now to be decided in a few
All this intelligence Barbara had long since gained from her maid, who
often paid visits to the town of Shrewsbury, and she had long had her
imagination inflamed with the idea of this splendid music-meeting and
ball. Often had she sighed to be there, and often had she revolved in
her mind schemes for introducing herself to some GENTEEL neighbours, who
might take her to the ball IN THEIR CARRIAGE. How rejoiced, how
triumphant was she, when this very evening, just about the time when the
butcher was bargaining with her father about Susan's lamb, a servant from
the Abbey rapped at the door, and left a card for Mr. and Miss Barbara
"There," cried Bab, "_I_ and PAPA are to dine and drink tea at The Abbey
tomorrow. Who knows? I daresay, when they see that I'm not a vulgar
person, and all that; and if I go cunningly to work with Miss Somers, as
I shall, to be sure, I daresay, she'll take me to the ball with her."
"To be sure," said the maid; "it's the least one may expect from a lady
who DEMEANS herself to visit Susan Price, and goes about a-shopping for
her. The least she can do for you is to take you in her carriage, WHICH
costs nothing, but is just a common civility, to a ball."
"Then pray, Betty," continued Miss Barbara, "don't forget to-morrow, the
first thing you do, to send off to Shrewsbury for my new bonnet. I must
have it to DINE IN, at the Abbey, or the ladies will think nothing of me;
and Betty, remember the mantua-maker too. I must see and coax papa to
buy me a new gown against the ball. I can see, you know, something of
the fashions to-morrow at the Abbey. I shall LOOK THE LADIES WELL OVER,
I promise you. And, Betty, I have thought of the most charming present
for Miss Somers, as papa says it's good never to go empty-handed to a
great house, I'll make Miss Somers, who is fond, as her maid told you, of
such things--I'll make Miss Somers a present of that guinea-hen of
Susan's; it's of no use to me, so do you carry it up early in the morning
to the Abbey, with my compliments. That's the thing."
In full confidence that her present and her bonnet would operate
effectually in her favour, Miss Barbara paid her first visit at the
Abbey. She expected to see wonders. She was dressed in all the finery
which she had heard from her maid, who had heard from the 'prentice of a
Shrewsbury milliner, was THE THING in London; and she was much surprised
and disappointed, when she was shown into the room where the Miss
Somerses and the ladies of the Abbey were sitting, to see that they did
not, in any one part of their dress, agree with the picture her
imagination had formed of fashionable ladies. She was embarrassed when
she saw books and work and drawings upon the table, and she began to
think that some affront was meant to her, because the COMPANY did not sit
with their hands before them.
When Miss Somers endeavoured to find out conversation that would interest
her, and spoke of walks and flowers and gardening, of which she was
herself fond, Miss Barbara still thought herself undervalued, and soon
contrived to expose her ignorance most completely, by talking of things
which she did not understand.
Those who never attempt to appear what they are not--those who do not in
their manners pretend to anything unsuited to their habits and situation
in life, never are in danger of being laughed at by sensible, well bred
people of any rank; but affectation is the constant and just object of
Miss Barbara Case, with her mistaken airs of gentility, aiming to be
thought a woman, and a fine lady, whilst she was, in reality, a child and
a vulgar attorney's daughter, rendered herself so thoroughly ridiculous,
that the good natured, yet discerning spectators were painfully divided
between their sense of comic absurdity and a feeling of shame for one who
could feel nothing for herself.
One by one the ladies dropped off. Miss Somers went out of the room for
a few minutes to alter her dress, as it was the custom of the family,
before dinner. She left a portfolio of pretty drawings and good prints,
for Miss Barbara's amusement; but Miss Barbara's thoughts were so intent
upon the harpers' ball, that she could not be entertained with such
TRIFLES. How unhappy are those who spend their time in expectation!
They can never enjoy the present moment. Whilst Barbara was contriving
means of interesting Miss Somers in her favour, she recollected, with
surprise, that not one word had yet been said of her present of the
guinea-hen. Mrs. Betty, in the hurry of her dressing her young lady in
the morning, had forgotten it; but it came just whilst Miss Somers was
dressing; and the housekeeper came into her mistress' room to announce
"Ma'am," said she, "here's a beautiful guinea-hen just come, with Miss
Barbara Case's compliments to you."
Miss Somers knew, by the tone which the housekeeper delivered this
message, that there was something in the business which did not perfectly
please her. She made no answer, in expectation that the housekeeper, who
was a woman of a very open temper, would explain her cause of
dissatisfaction. In this she was not mistaken. The housekeeper came
close up to the dressing table, and continued, "I never like to speak
till I'm sure, ma'am, and I'm not quite sure, to say certain, in this
case, ma'am, but still I think it right to tell you, which can't wrong
anybody, what came across my mind about this same guinea-hen, ma'am; and
you can inquire into it, and do as you please afterwards, ma'am. Some
time ago we had fine guinea-fowls of our own, and I made bold, not
thinking, to be sure, that all our own would die away from us, as they
have done, to give a fine couple last Christmas to Susan Price, and very
fond and pleased she was at the time, and I'm sure would never have
parted with the hen with her good-will; but if my eyes don't strangely
mistake, this hen, that comes from Miss Barbara, is the selfsame
identical guinea-hen that I gave to Susan. And how Miss Bab came by it
is the thing that puzzles me. If my boy Philip was at home, maybe, as
he's often at Mrs. Price's (which I don't disapprove), he might know the
history of the guinea-hen. I expect him home this night, and if you have
no objection, I will sift the affair."
"The shortest way, I think," said Henrietta, "would be to ask Miss Case
herself about it, which I will do this evening."
"If you please, ma'am," said the housekeeper, coldly; for she knew that
Miss Barbara was not famous in the village for speaking truth.
Dinner was now served. Attorney Case expected to smell mint sauce, and,
as the covers were taken from off the dishes, looked around for lamb; but
no lamb appeared. He had a dexterous knack of twisting the conversation
to his point. Sir Arthur was speaking, when they sat down to dinner, of
a new carving knife, which he lately had had made for his sister. The
attorney immediately went from carving-knives to poultry; thence to
butcher's meat. Some joints, he observed, were much more difficult to
carve than others. He never saw a man carve better than the gentleman
opposite him, who was the curate of the parish. "But, sir," said the
vulgar attorney, "I must make bold to differ with you in one point, and
I'll appeal to Sir Arthur. Sir Arthur, pray may I ask, when you carve a
forequarter of lamb, do you, when you raise the shoulder, throw in salt,
or not?" This well prepared question was not lost upon Sir Arthur. The
attorney was thanked for his intended present; but mortified and
surprised to hear Sir Arthur say that it was a constant rule of his never
to accept of any presents from his neighbours. "If we were to accept a
lamb from a rich neighbour on my estate," said he, "I am afraid we should
mortify many of our poor tenants, who can have little to offer, though,
perhaps, they may bear us thorough good-will notwithstanding."
After the ladies left the dining-room, as they were walking up and down
the large hall, Miss Barbara had a fair opportunity of imitating her keen
father's method of conversing. One of the ladies observed, that this
hall would be a charming place for music. Bab brought in harps and
harpers, and the harpers' ball, in a breath. "I know so much about it,--
about the ball I mean," said she, "because a lady in Shrewsbury, a friend
of papa's, offered to take me with her; but papa did not like to give her
the trouble of sending so far for me, though she has a coach of her own."
Barbara fixed her eyes upon Miss Somers as she spoke; but she could not
read her countenance as distinctly as she wished, because Miss Somers was
at this moment letting down the veil of her hat.
"Shall we walk out before tea?" said Miss Somers to her companions; "I
have a pretty guinea-hen to show you." Barbara, secretly drawing
propitious omens from the guinea-hen, followed with a confidential step.
The pheasantry was well filled with pheasants, peacocks, etc., and
Susan's pretty little guinea-hen appeared well, even in this high
company. It was much admired. Barbara was in glory; but her glory was
of short duration.
Just as Miss Somers was going to inquire into the guinea-hen's history,
Philip came up, to ask permission to have a bit of sycamore, to turn a
nutmeg box for his mother. He was an ingenious lad, and a good turner
for his age. Sir Arthur had put by a bit of sycamore, on purpose for
him; and Miss Somers told him where it was to be found. He thanked her:
but in the midst of his bow of thanks his eye was struck by the sight of
the guinea-hen, and he involuntarily exclaimed, "Susan's guinea-hen, I
declare!" "No, it's not Susan's guinea-hen," said Miss Barbara,
colouring furiously; "it is mine, and I have made a present of it to Miss
At the sound of Bab's voice, Philip turned--saw her--and indignation,
unrestrained by the presence of all the amazed spectators, flashed in his
"What is the matter, Philip?" said Miss Somers, in a pacifying tone; but
Philip was not inclined to be pacified. "Why, ma'am," said he, "may I
speak out?" and, without waiting for permission, he spoke out, and gave a
full, true, and warm account of Rose's embassy, and of Miss Barbara's
cruel and avaricious proceedings.
Barbara denied, prevaricated, stammered, and at last was overcome with
confusion; for which even the most indulgent spectators could scarcely
Miss Somers, however, mindful of what was due to her guest, was anxious
to dispatch Philip for his piece of sycamore. Bab recovered herself as
soon as he was out of sight; but she further exposed herself by
exclaiming, "I'm sure I wish this pitiful guinea-hen had never come into
my possession. I wish Susan had kept it at home, as she should have
"Perhaps she will be more careful now that she has received so strong a
lesson," said Miss Somers. "Shall we try her?" continued she. "Philip
will, I daresay, take the guinea-hen back to Susan, if we desire it."
"If you please, ma'am," said Barbara, sullenly; "I have nothing more to
do with it."
So the guinea-hen was delivered to Philip, who set off joyfully with his
prize, and was soon in sight of Farmer Price's cottage. He stopped when
he came to the door. He recollected Rose and her generous friendship for
Susan. He was determined that she should have the pleasure of restoring
the guinea-hen. He ran into the village. All the children who had given
up their little purse on May day were assembled on the play-green. They
were delighted to see the guinea-hen once more. Philip took his pipe and
tabor, and they marched in innocent triumph towards the whitewashed
"Let me come with you--let me come with you," said the butcher's boy to
Philip. "Stop one minute! my father has something to say to you." He
darted into his father's house. The little procession stopped, and in a
few minutes the bleating of a lamb was heard. Through a back passage,
which led into the paddock behind the house, they saw the butcher leading
"It is Daisy!" exclaimed Rose--"It's Daisy!" repeated all her companions.
"Susan's lamb! Susan's lamb!" and there was a universal shout of joy.
"Well, for my part," said the good butcher, as soon as he could be
heard,--"for my part, I would not be so cruel as Attorney Case for the
whole world. These poor brute beasts don't know aforehand what's going
to happen to them; and as for dying, it's what we must all do some time
or another; but to keep wringing the hearts of the living, that have as
much sense as one's self, is what I call cruel; and is not this what
Attorney Case has been doing by poor Susan and her whole family, ever
since he took a spite against them? But, at anyrate, here's Susan's lamb
safe and sound. I'd have taken it back sooner, but I was off before day
to the fair, and am but just come back. Daisy, however, has been as well
off in my paddock as he would have been in the field by the waterside."
The obliging shopkeeper, who showed the pretty calicoes to Susan, was now
at his door, and when he saw the lamb, and heard that it was Susan's, and
learned its history, he said that he would add his mite; and he gave the
children some ends of narrow riband, with which Rose decorated her
The pipe and tabor now once more began to play, and the procession moved
on in joyful order, after giving the humane butcher three cheers; three
cheers which were better deserved than "loud huzzas" usually are.
Susan was working in her arbour, with her little deal table before her.
When she heard the sound of the music, she put down her work and
listened. She saw the crowd of children coming nearer and nearer. They
had closed round Daisy, so that she did not see it; but as they came up
to the garden gate she saw that Rose beckoned to her. Philip played as
loud as he could, that she might not hear, till the proper moment, the
bleating of the lamb. Susan opened the garden-wicket, and at this signal
the crowd divided, and the first thing that Susan saw, in the midst of
her taller friends, was little smiling Mary, with the guinea-hen in her
"Come on! Come on!" cried Mary, as Susan started with joyful surprise;
"you have more to see."
At this instant the music paused, Susan heard the bleating of a lamb, and
scarcely daring to believe her senses, she pressed eagerly forward, and
beheld poor Daisy!--she burst into tears. "I did not shed one tear when
I parted with you, my dear little Daisy!" said she. "It was for my
father and mother. I would not have parted with you for anything else in
the whole world. Thank you, thank you all," added she, to her
companions, who sympathized in her joy, even more than they had
sympathized in her sorrow. "Now, if my father was not to go away from us
next week, and if my mother was quite stout, I should be the happiest
person in the world!"
As Susan pronounced these words, a voice behind the little listening
crowd cried, in a brutal tone, "Let us pass, if you please; you have no
right to stop up the public road!" This was the voice of Attorney Case,
who was returning with his daughter Barbara from his visit to the Abbey.
He saw the lamb, and tried to whistle as he went on. Barbara also saw
the guinea-hen, and turned her head another way, that she might avoid the
contemptuous, reproachful looks of those whom she only affected to
despise. Even her new bonnet, in which she had expected to be so much
admired, was now only serviceable to hide her face and conceal her
"I am glad she saw the guinea-hen," cried Rose, who now held it in her
"Yes," said Philip, "she'll not forget May day in a hurry."
"Nor I neither, I hope," said Susan, looking round upon her companions
with a most affectionate smile: "I hope, whilst I live, I shall never
forget your goodness to me last May day. Now I've my pretty guinea-hen
safe once more, I should think of returning your money."
"No! no! no!" was the general cry. "We don't want the money--keep it,
keep it--you want it for your father."
"Well," said Susan, "I am not too proud to be obliged. I WILL keep your
money for my father. Perhaps some time or other I may be able to earn--"
"Oh," interrupted Philip, "don't let us talk of earning; don't let us
talk to her of money now; she has not had time hardly to look at poor
Daisy and her guinea-hen. Come, we must go about our business, and let
her have them all to herself."
The crowd moved away in consequence of Philip's considerate advice: but
it was observed that he was the very last to stir from the garden-wicket
himself. He stayed, first, to inform Susan that it was Rose who tied the
ribands on Daisy's head. Then he stayed a little longer to let her into
the history of the guinea-hen, and to tell her who it was that brought
the hen home from the Abbey.
Rose held the sieve, and Susan was feeding her long lost favourite,
whilst Philip leaned over the wicket, prolonging his narration. "Now, my
pretty guinea-hen," said Susan--"my naughty guinea-hen, that flew away
from me, you shall never serve me so again. I must cut your nice wings;
but I won't hurt you."
"Take care," cried Philip; "you'd better, indeed you'd better let me hold
her whilst you cut her wings."
When this operation was successfully performed, which it certainly could
never have been if Philip had not held the hen for Susan, he recollected
that his mother had sent him with a message to Mrs. Price. This message
led to another quarter of an hour's delay; for he had the whole history
of the guinea-hen to tell over again to Mrs. Price, and the farmer
himself luckily came in whilst it was going on, so it was but civil to
begin it afresh; and then the farmer was so rejoiced to see his Susan so
happy again with her two little favourites that he declared he must see
Daisy fed himself; and Philip found that he was wanted to hold the jug
full of milk, out of which Farmer Price filled the pan for Daisy? Happy
Daisy! who lapped at his ease, whilst Susan caressed him, and thanked her
fond father and her pleased mother.
"But, Philip," said Mrs. Price, "I'll hold the jug--you'll be late with
your message to your mother; we'll not detain you any longer."
Philip departed, and as he went out of the garden-wicket, he looked up,
and saw Bab and her maid Betty staring out of the window, as usual. On
this, he immediately turned back to try whether he had shut the gate
fast, lest the guinea-hen might stray out, and fall again into the hands
of the enemy.
Miss Barbara, in the course of this day, felt considerable mortification,
but no contrition. She was vexed that her meanness was discovered, but
she felt no desire to cure herself of any of her faults. The ball was
still uppermost in her vain, selfish soul. "Well," said she to her
confidante, Betty, "you hear how things have turned out; but if Miss
Somers won't think of asking me to go out with her, I've a notion I know
who will. As papa says, it's a good thing to have two strings to one's
Now, some officers, who were quartered at Shrewsbury, had become
acquainted with Mr. Case. They had gotten into some quarrel with a
tradesman of the town, and Attorney Case had promised to bring them
through the affair, as the man threatened to take the law of them. Upon
the faith of this promise, and with the vain hope that, by civility, they
might dispose him to bring in a REASONABLE bill of costs, these officers
sometimes invited Mr. Case to the mess; and one of them, who had lately
been married, prevailed upon his bride SOMETIMES to take a little notice
of Miss Barbara. It was with this lady that Miss Barbara now hoped to go
to the harpers' ball.
"The officers and Mrs. Strathspey, or, more properly, Mrs. Strathspey and
the officers, are to breakfast here, tomorrow, do you know," said Bab to
Betty. "One of them dined at the Abbey, to-day, and told papa that
they'd all come. They are going out on a party, somewhere into the
country, and breakfast here on their way. Pray, Betty, don't forget that
Mrs. Strathspey can't breakfast without honey. I heard her say so
"Then, indeed," said Betty, "I'm afraid Mrs. Strathspey will be likely to
go without her breakfast here; for not a spoonful of honey have we, let
her long for it ever so much."
"But, surely," said Bab, "we can contrive to get some honey in the
"There's none to be bought, as I know of," said Betty.
"But is there none to be begged or borrowed?" said Bab, laughing. "Do
you forget Susan's beehive? Step over to her in the morning with MY
COMPLIMENTS, and see what you can do. Tell her it's for Mrs.
In the morning Betty went with Miss Barbara's compliments to Susan, to
beg some honey for Mrs. Strathspey, who could not breakfast without it.
Susan did not like to part with her honey, because her mother loved it,
and she therefore gave Betty but a small quantity. When Barbara saw how
little Susan sent, she called her A MISER, and she said she MUST have
some more for Mrs. Strathspey. "I'll go myself and speak to her. Come
with me, Betty," said the young lady, who found it at present convenient
to forget her having declared, the day that she sucked up the broth, that
she never would honour Susan with another visit. "Susan," said she,
accosting the poor girl, whom she had done everything in her power to
injure, "I must beg a little more honey from you for Mrs. Strathspey's
breakfast. You know, on a particular occasion such as this, neighbours
must help one another."
"To be sure they should," added Betty.
Susan, though she was generous, was not weak; she was willing to give to
those she loved, but not disposed to let anything be taken from her, or
coaxed out of her, by those she had reason to despise. She civilly
answered, that she was sorry she had no more honey to spare.
Barbara grew angry, and lost all command of herself, when she saw that
Susan, without regarding her reproaches, went on looking through the
glass pane in the beehive. "I'll tell you what, Susan Price," said she,
in a high tone, "the honey I WILL have, so you may as well give it to me
by fair means. Yes or no! Speak! Will you give it me or not? Will you
give me that piece of the honey-comb that lies there?"
"That bit of honey-comb is for my mother's breakfast," said Susan; "I
cannot give it you."
"Can't you?" said Bab, "then see if I don't take it!" She stretched
across Susan for the honey-comb, which was lying by some rosemary leaves
that Susan had freshly gathered for her mother's tea. Bab grasped, but
at her first effort she only reached the rosemary. She made a second
dart at the honey-comb, and, in her struggle to obtain it, she overset
the beehive. The bees swarmed about her. Her maid Betty screamed and
ran away. Susan, who was sheltered by a laburnum tree, called to
Barbara, upon whom the black clusters of bees were now settling, and
begged her to stand still, and not to beat them away. "If you stand
quietly you won't be stung, perhaps." But instead of standing quietly,
Bab buffeted and stamped and roared, and the bees stung her terribly.
Her arms and her face swelled in a frightful manner. She was helped home
by poor Susan and treacherous Mrs. Betty, who, now the mischief was done,
thought only of exculpating herself to her master.
"Indeed, Miss Barbara," said she, "this was quite wrong of you to go and
get yourself into such a scrape. I shall be turned away for it, you'll
"I don't care whether you are turned away or not," said Barbara; "I never
felt such pain in my life. Can't you do something for me? I don't mind
the pain either so much as being such a fright. Pray, how am I to be fit
to be seen at breakfast by Mrs. Strathspey; and I suppose I can't go to
the ball either to-morrow, after all!"
"No, that you can't expect to do, indeed," said Betty, the comforter.
"You need not think of balls; for those lumps and swellings won't go off
your face this week. That's not what pains me; but I'm thinking of what
your papa will say to me when he sees you, miss."
Whilst this amiable mistress and maid were in their adversity reviling
one another, Susan, when she saw that she could be of no further use, was
preparing to depart, but at the house-door, she was met by Mr. Case. Mr.
Case had revolved things in his mind; for his second visit at the Abbey
pleased him as little as his first, owing to a few words which Sir Arthur
and Miss Somers dropped in speaking of Susan and Farmer Price. Mr. Case
began to fear that he had mistaken his game in quarrelling with this
family. The refusal of his present dwelt upon the attorney's mind; and
he was aware that, if the history of Susan's lamb ever reached the Abbey,
he was undone. He now thought that the most prudent course he could
possibly follow would be to HUSH UP matters with the Prices with all
convenient speed. Consequently, when he met Susan at his door, he forced
a gracious smile. "How is your mother, Susan?" said he. "Is there
anything in our house can be of service to her?" On hearing his daughter
he cried out, "Barbara, Barbara--Bab! come downstairs, child, and speak
to Susan Price." But as no Barbara answered, her father stalked upstairs
directly, opened the door, and stood amazed at the spectacle of her
Betty instantly began to tell the story of Barbara's mishap her own way.
Bab contradicted her as fast as she spoke. The attorney turned the maid
away on the spot; and partly with real anger, and partly with feigned
affectation of anger, he demanded from his daughter how she dared to
treat Susan Price so ill, "when," as he said, "she was so neighbourly and
obliging as to give you some of her honey? Couldn't you be content,
without seizing upon the honey-comb by force? This is scandalous
behaviour, and what, I assure you, I can't countenance."
Susan now interceded for Barbara; and the attorney, softening his voice,
said that "Susan was a great deal too good to her; as you are, indeed,"
added he, "to everybody. I forgive her for your sake." Susan curtsied,
in great surprise; but her lamb could not be forgotten, and she left the
attorney's house as soon as she could, to make her mother's rosemary tea
Mr. Case saw that Susan was not so simple as to be taken in by a few fair
words. His next attempt was to conciliate Farmer Price. The farmer was
a blunt, honest man, and his countenance remained inflexibly
contemptuous, when the attorney addressed him in his softest tone.
So stood matters the day of the long expected harpers' ball. Miss
Barbara Case, stung by Susan's bees, could not, after all her manoeuvres,
go with Mrs. Strathspey to the ball. The ballroom was filled early in
the evening. There was a numerous assembly. The harpers, who contended
for the prize, were placed under the music-gallery at the lower end of
the room. Amongst them was our old blind friend, who, as he was not so
well clad as his competitors, seemed to be disdained by many of the
spectators. Six ladies and six gentlemen were now appointed to be judges
of the performance. They were seated in a semicircle, opposite to the
harpers. The Miss Somerses, who were fond of music, were amongst the
ladies in the semicircle; and the prize was lodged in the hands of Sir
Arthur. There was now silence. The first harp sounded, and as each
musician tried his skill, the audience seemed to think that each deserved
the prize. The old blind man was the last. He tuned his instrument; and
such a simple, pathetic strain was heard as touched every heart. All
were fixed in delighted attention; and when the music ceased, the silence
for some moments continued.
The silence was followed by a universal buzz of applause. The judges
were unanimous in their opinions, and it was declared that the old blind
harper, who played the last, deserved the prize.
The simple, pathetic air which won the suffrages of the whole assembly,
was his own composition. He was pressed to give the words belonging to
the music; and at last he modestly offered to repeat them, as he could
not see to write. Miss Somers' ready pencil was instantly produced; and
the old harper dictated the words of his ballad, which he called--
"Susan's Lamentation for her Lamb."
Miss Somers looked at her brother from time to time, as she wrote; and
Sir Arthur, as soon as the old man had finished, took him aside, and
asked him some questions, which brought the whole history of Susan's lamb
and of Attorney Case's cruelty to light.
The attorney himself was present when the harper began to dictate his
ballad. His colour, as Sir Arthur steadily looked at him, varied
continually; till at length, when he heard the words "Susan's Lamentation
for her Lamb," he suddenly shrunk back, skulked through the crowd, and
disappeared. We shall not follow him; we had rather follow our old
friend, the victorious harper.
No sooner had he received the ten guineas, his well merited prize, than
he retired to a small room belonging to the people of the house, asked
for pen, ink and paper, and dictated, in a low voice, to his boy, who was
a tolerably good scribe, a letter, which he ordered him to put directly
into the Shrewsbury post-office. The boy ran with the letter to the
post-office. He was but just in time, for the postman's horn was
The next morning, when Farmer Price, his wife, and Susan, were sitting
together, reflecting that his week's leave of absence was nearly at an
end, and that the money was not yet made up for John Simpson, the
substitute, a knock was heard at the door, and the person who usually
delivered the letters in the village put a letter into Susan's hand,
saying, "A penny, if you please--here's a letter for your father."
"For me!" said Farmer Price; "here's the penny then, but who can it be
from, I wonder? Who can think of writing to me, in this world?" He tore
open the letter; but the hard name at the bottom of the page puzzled him-
-"your obliged friend, Llewellyn."
"And what's this?" said he, opening a paper that was inclosed in the
letter. "It's a song, seemingly; it must be somebody that has a mind to
make an April fool of me."
"But it is not April, it is May, father," said Susan.
"Well, let us read the letter, and we shall come to the truth all in good
Farmer Price sat down in his own chair, for he could not read entirely to
his satisfaction in any other, and read as follows:--
"MY WORTHY FRIEND,--I am sure you will be glad to hear that I have had
good success this night. I have won the ten guinea prize, and for that I
am in a great measure indebted to your sweet daughter Susan; as you will
see by a little ballad I inclose for her. Your hospitality to me has
afforded to me an opportunity of learning some of your family history.
You do not, I hope, forget that I was present when you were counting the
treasure in Susan's little purse, and that I heard for what purpose it
was all destined. You have not, I know, yet made up the full sum for
your substitute, John Simpson; therefore do me the favour to use the five
guinea bank note which you will find within the ballad. You shall not
find me as hard a creditor as Attorney Case. Pay me the money at your
own convenience. If it is never convenient to you to pay it, I shall
never ask it. I shall go my rounds again through this country, I
believe, about this time next year, and will call to see how you do, and
to play the new tune for Susan and the dear little boys.
"I should just add, to set your heart at rest about the money, that it
does not distress me at all to lend it to you. I am not quite so poor as
I appear to be. But it is my humour to go about as I do. I see more of
the world under my tattered garb than, perhaps, I should ever see in a
better dress. There are many of my profession who are of the same mind
as myself in this respect; and we are glad, when it lies in our way, to
do any kindness to such a worthy family as yours.--So, fare ye well.
"Your obliged Friend,
Susan now, by her father's desire, opened the ballad. He picked up the
five guinea bank note, whilst she read, with surprise, "Susan's
Lamentation for her Lamb." Her mother leaned over her shoulder to read
the words; but they were interrupted, before they had finished the first
stanza, by another knock at the door. It was not the postman with
another letter. It was Sir Arthur and his sisters.
They came with an intention, which they were much disappointed to find
that the old harper had rendered vain--they came to lend the farmer and
his good family the money to pay for his substitute.
"But, since we are here," said Sir Arthur, "let me do my own business,
which I had like to have forgotten. Mr. Price, will you come out with
me, and let me show you a piece of your land, through which I want to
make a road. Look there," said Sir Arthur, pointing to the spot, "I am
laying out a ride round my estate, and that bit of land of yours stops
"Why, sir," said Price, "the land's mine, to be sure, for that matter;
but I hope you don't look upon me to be that sort of person that would be
stiff about a trifle or so."
"The fact is," said Sir Arthur, "I had heard you were a litigious, pig-
headed fellow; but you do not seem to deserve this character."
"Hope not, sir," said the farmer; "but about the matter of the land, I
don't want to take any advantage of your wishing for it. You are welcome
to it; and I leave it to you to find me out another bit of land
convenient to me that will be worth neither more nor less; or else to
make up the value to me some way or other. I need say no more about it."
"I hear something," continued Sir Arthur, after a short silence--"I hear
something, Mr. Price, of a FLAW in your lease. I would not speak to you
about it whilst we were bargaining about your land, lest I should over-
awe you; but, tell me, what is this flaw?"
"In truth, and the truth is the fittest thing to be spoken at all times,"
said the farmer, "I didn't know myself what a flaw, as they call it,
meant, till I heard of the word from Attorney Case; and, I take it, a
flaw is neither more nor less than a mistake, as one should say. Now, by
reason a man does not make a mistake on purpose, it seems to me to be the
fair thing, that if a man finds out his mistake, he might set it right;
but Attorney Case says this is not law; and I've no more to say. The man
who drew up my lease made a mistake; and if I must suffer for it, I
must," said the farmer. "However, I can show you, Sir Arthur, just for
my own satisfaction and yours, a few lines of a memorandum on a slip of
paper, which was given me by your relation, the gentleman who lived here
before, and let me my farm. You'll see, by that bit of paper, what was
meant; but the attorney says, the paper's not worth a button in a court
of justice, and I don't understand these things. All I understand is the
common honesty of the matter. I've no more to say."
"This attorney, whom you speak of so often," said Sir Arthur, "you seem
to have some quarrel with. Now, would you tell me frankly what is the
"The matter between us, then," said Price, "is a little bit of ground,
not worth much, that is there open to the lane at the end of Mr. Case's
garden, sir, and he wanted to take it in. Now I told him my mind, that
it belonged to the parish, and that I never would willingly give my
consent to his cribbing it in that way. Sir, I was the more loath to see
it shut into his garden, which, moreover, is large enough of all
conscience without it, because you must know, Sir Arthur, the children in
our village are fond of making a little play-green of it; and they have a
custom of meeting on May day at a hawthorn that stands in the middle of
it, and altogether I was very loath to see 'em turned out of it by those
who have no right."
"Let us go and see this nook," said Sir Arthur. "It is not far off, is
"Oh, no, sir, just hard by here."
When they got to the ground, Mr. Case, who saw them walking together, was
in a hurry to join them, that he might put a stop to any explanations.
Explanations were things of which he had a great dread; but, fortunately,
he was upon this occasion a little too late.
"Is this the nook in dispute?" said Sir Arthur.
"Yes; this is the whole thing," said Price.
"Why, Sir Arthur," interposed the politic attorney, with an assumed air
of generosity, "don't let us talk any more about it. Let it belong to
whom it will, I give it up to you."
"So great a lawyer, Mr. Case, as you are," replied Sir Arthur, "must
know, that a man cannot give up that to which he has no legal title; and
in this case it is impossible that, with the best intentions to oblige me
in the world, you can give up this bit of land to me, because it is mine
already, as I can convince you effectually by a map of the adjoining
land, which I have fortunately safe amongst my papers. This piece of
ground belonged to the farm on the opposite side of the road, and it was
cut off when the lane was made."
"Very possibly. I daresay you are quite correct; you must know best,"
said the attorney, trembling for the agency.
"Then," said Sir Arthur, "Mr. Price, you will observe that I now promise
this little green to the children for a play-ground; and I hope they may
gather hawthorn many a May day at this their favourite bush." Mr. Price
bowed low, which he seldom did, even when he received a favour himself.
"And now, Mr. Case," said Sir Arthur, turning to the attorney, who did
not know which way to look, "you sent me a lease to look over."
"Ye-ye-yes," stammered Mr Case. "I thought it my duty to do so; not out
of any malice or ill-will to this good man."
"You have done him no injury," said Sir Arthur, coolly. "I am ready to
make him a new lease, whenever he pleases, of his farm, and I shall be
guided by a memorandum of the original bargain, which he has in his
possession. I hope I never shall take an unfair advantage of anyone."
"Heaven forbid, sir," said the attorney, sanctifying his face, "that I
should suggest the taking an UNFAIR advantage of any man, rich or poor;
but to break a bad lease is not taking an unfair advantage."
"You really think so?" said Sir Arthur.
"Certainly I do, and I hope I have not hazarded your good opinion by
speaking my mind concerning the flaw so plainly. I always understood
that there could be nothing ungentlemanlike, in the way of business, in
taking advantage of a flaw in a lease."
"Now," said Sir Arthur, "you have pronounced judgment undesignedly in
your own case. You intended to send me this poor man's lease; but your
son, by some mistake, brought me your own, and I have discovered a fatal
error in it."
"A fatal error!" said the alarmed attorney.
"Yes, sir," said Sir Arthur, pulling the lease out of his pocket. "Here
it is. You will observe that it is neither signed nor sealed by the
"But, you won't take advantage of me, surely, Sir Arthur?" said Mr. Case,
forgetting his own principles.
"I shall not take advantage of you, as you would have taken of this
honest man. In both cases I shall be guided by memoranda which I have in
my possession. I shall not, Mr. Case, defraud you of one shilling of
your property. I am ready, at a fair valuation, to pay the exact value
of your house and land; but upon this condition--that you quit the parish
within one month!"
Attorney Case was thus compelled to submit to the hard necessity of the
case, for he knew that he could not legally resist. Indeed he was glad
to be let off so easily; and he bowed and sneaked away, secretly
comforting himself with the hope, that when they came to the valuation of
the house and land he should be the gainer, perhaps of a few guineas.
His reputation he justly held very cheap.
"You are a scholar; you write a good hand; you can keep accounts, cannot
you?" said Sir Arthur to Mr. Price, as they walked home towards the
cottage. "I think I saw a bill of your little daughter's drawing out the
other day, which was very neatly written. Did you teach her to write?"
"No, sir," said Price, "I can't say I did THAT; for she mostly taught it
herself, but I taught her a little arithmetic, as far as I knew, on our
winter nights, when I had nothing better to do."
"Your daughter shows that she has been well taught," said Sir Arthur;
"and her good conduct and good character speak strongly in favour of her
"You are very good, very good indeed, sir, to speak in this sort of way,"
said the delighted father.
"But I mean to do more than PAY YOU WITH WORDS," said Sir Arthur. "You
are attached to your own family, perhaps you may become attached to me,
when you come to know me, and we shall have frequent opportunities of
judging of one another. I want no agent to squeeze my tenants, or do my
dirty work. I only want a steady, intelligent, honest man, like you, to
collect my rents, and I hope, Mr. Price, you will have no objection to
"I hope, sir," said Price, with joy and gratitude glowing in his honest
countenance, "that you'll never have cause to repent your goodness."
"And what are my sisters about here?" said Sir Arthur, entering the
cottage, and going behind his sisters, who were busily engaged in
measuring an extremely pretty coloured calico.
"It is for Susan, my dear brother," said they. "I know she did not keep
that guinea for herself," said Miss Somers. "I have just prevailed upon
her mother to tell me what became of it. Susan gave it to her father;
but she must not refuse a gown of our choosing this time; and I am sure
she will not, because her mother, I see, likes it. And, Susan, I hear
that instead of becoming Queen of the May this year, you were sitting in
your sick mother's room. Your mother has a little colour in her cheeks
"Oh, ma'am," interrupted Mrs. Price, "I'm quite well. Joy, I think, has
made me quite well."
"Then," said Miss Somers, "I hope you will be able to come out on your
daughter's birthday, which, I hear, is the 25th of this month. Make
haste and get quite well before that day; for my brother intends that all
the lads and lassies of the village shall have a dance on Susan's
"Yes," said Sir Arthur, "and I hope on that day, Susan, you will be very
happy with your little friends upon their play-green. I shall tell them
that it is your good conduct which has obtained it for them; and if you
have anything to ask, any little favour for any of your companions, which
we can grant, now ask, Susan. These ladies look as if they would not
refuse you anything that is reasonable; and, I think, you look as if you
would not ask anything unreasonable."
"Sir," said Susan, after consulting her mother's eyes, "there is, to be
sure, a favour I should like to ask; it is for Rose."
"Well, I don't know who Rose is," said Sir Arthur, smiling; "but, go on."
"Ma'am, you have seen her, I believe; she is a very good girl, indeed,"
said Mrs. Price. "And works very neatly, indeed," continued Susan,
eagerly, to Miss Somers; "and she and her mother heard you were looking
out for someone to wait upon you."
"Say no more," said Miss Somers; "your wish is granted. Tell Rose to
come to the Abbey, to-morrow morning, or, rather, come with her yourself;
for our housekeeper, I know, wants to talk to you about a certain cake.
She wishes, Susan, that you should be the maker of the cake for the
dance; and she has good things ready looked out for it already, I know.
It must be large enough for everybody to have a slice, and the
housekeeper will ice it for you. I only hope your cake will be as good
as your bread. Fare ye well."
How happy are those who bid farewell to a whole family, silent with
gratitude, who will bless them aloud when they are far out of hearing!
"How do I wish, now," said Farmer Price, "and it's almost a sin for one
that has had such a power of favours done him, to wish for anything more;
but how I DO wish, wife, that our good friend, the harper was only here
at this time. It would do his old, warm heart good. Well, the best of
it is, we shall be able next year, when he comes his rounds, to pay him
his money with thanks, being all the time, and for ever, as much obliged
to him as if we kept it. I long, so I do, to see him in this house
again, drinking, as he did, just in this spot, a glass of Susan's mead,
to her very good health."
"Yes," said Susan, "and the next time he comes, I can give him one of my
guinea-hen's eggs, and I shall show my lamb, Daisy."
"True, love," said her mother, "and he will play that tune and sing that
pretty ballad. Where is it? for I have not finished it."
"Rose ran away with it, mother, but I'll step after her, and bring it
back to you this minute," said Susan.
Susan found her friend Rose at the hawthorn, in the midst of a crowded
circle of her companions, to whom she was reading "Susan's Lamentation
for her Lamb."
"The words are something, but the tune--the tune--I must have the tune,"
cried Philip. "I'll ask my mother to ask Sir Arthur to try and find out
which way that good old man went after the ball; and if he's above
ground, we'll have him back by Susan's birthday, and he shall sit here--
just exactly here by this, our bush, and he shall play--I mean, if he
pleases--that same tune for us, and I shall learn it--I mean, if I can--
in a minute."
The good news that Farmer Price was to be employed to collect the rents,
and that Attorney Case was to leave the parish in a month, soon spread
over the village. Many came out of their houses to have the pleasure of
hearing the joyful tidings confirmed by Susan herself. The crowd on the
play-green increased every minute.
"Yes," cried the triumphant Philip, "I tell you it's all true, every word
of it. Susan's too modest to say it herself; but I tell ye all, Sir
Arthur gave us this play-green for ever, on account of her being so
You see, at last Attorney Case, with all his cunning has not proved a
match for "Simple Susan."
THE WHITE PIGEON.
The little town of Somerville, in Ireland, has, within these few years,
assumed the neat and cheerful appearance of an English village. Mr.
Somerville, to whom this town belongs, wished to inspire his tenantry
with a taste for order and domestic happiness, and took every means in
his power to encourage industrious, well behaved people to settle in his
neighbourhood. When he had finished building a row of good slated houses
in his town, he declared that he would let them to the best tenants he
could find, and proposals were publicly sent to him from all parts of the
By the best tenants, Mr. Somerville did not, however, mean the best
bidders; and many, who had offered an extravagant price for the houses,
were surprised to find their proposals rejected. Amongst these was Mr.
Cox, an alehouse keeper, who did not bear a very good character.
"Please your honour, sir," said he to Mr. Somerville, "I expected, since
I bid as fair and fairer for it than any other, that you would have let
me the house next the apothecary's. Was not it fifteen guineas I
mentioned in my proposal? and did not your honour give it against me for
"My honour did just so," replied Mr. Somerville, calmly.
"And please your honour, but I don't know what it is I or mine have done
to offend you. I'm sure there is not a gentleman in all Ireland I'd go
further to sarve. Would not I go to Cork to-morrow for the least word
from your honour?"
"I am much obliged to you, Mr. Cox, but I have no business at Cork at
present," answered Mr. Somerville, drily.
"It is all I wish," exclaimed Mr. Cox, "that I could find out and light
upon the man that has belied me to your honour."
"No man has belied you, Mr. Cox, but your nose belies you much, if you do
not love drinking a little, and your black eye and cut chin belie you
much if you do not love quarrelling a little."
"Quarrel! I quarrel, please your honour! I defy any man, or set of men,
ten mile round, to prove such a thing, and I am ready to fight him that
dares to say the like of me. I'd fight him here in your honour's
presence, if he'd only come out this minute, and meet me like a man."
Here Mr. Cox put himself into a boxing attitude, but observing that Mr.
Somerville looked at his threatening gesture with a smile, and that
several people, who had gathered round him as he stood in the street,
laughed at the proof he gave of his peaceable disposition, he changed his
attitude, and went on to vindicate himself against the charge of
"And as to drink, please your honour, there's no truth in it. Not a drop
of whisky, good or bad, have I touched these six months, except what I
took with Jemmy M'Doole the night I had the misfortune to meet your
honour coming home from the fair of Ballynagrish."
To this speech Mr. Somerville made no answer, but turned away to look at
the bow window of a handsome new inn, which the glazier was at this
instant glazing. "Please your honour, that new inn is not let, I hear,
as yet," resumed Mr. Cox; "if your honour recollects, you promised to
make me a compliment of it last Seraphtide was twelvemonth."
"Impossible!" cried Mr. Somerville, "for I had no thoughts of building an
inn at that time."
"Oh, I beg your honour's pardon but if you'd be just pleased to
recollect, it was coming through the gap in the bog meadows, FORENENT
Thady O'Connor, you made me the promise--I'll leave it to him, so I
"But I will not leave it to him, I assure you," cried Mr. Somerville; "I
never made any such promise. I never thought of letting this inn to
"Then your honour won't let me have it?"
"No, you have told me a dozen falsehoods. I do not wish to have you for
"Well, God bless your honour; I've no more to say, but God bless your
honour," said Mr. Cox; and he walked away, muttering to himself, as he
slouched his hat over his face, "I hope I'll live to be revenged on him!"
Mr. Somerville the next morning went with his family to look at the new
inn, which he expected to see perfectly finished; but he was met by the
carpenter, who, with a rueful face, informed him that six panes of glass
in the large bow-window had been broken during the night.
"Ha! perhaps Mr. Cox has broken my windows, in revenge for my refusing to
let him my house," said Mr. Somerville; and many of the neighbours, who
knew the malicious character of this Mr. Cox, observed that this was like
one of his tricks. A boy of about twelve years old, however, stepped
forward and said, "I don't like Mr. Cox, I'm sure; for once he beat me
when he was drunk; but, for all that, no one should be accused
wrongfully. He could not be the person that broke these windows last
night, for he was six miles off. He slept at his cousin's last night,
and he has not returned home yet. So I think he knows nothing of the
Mr. Somerville was pleased with the honest simplicity of this boy, and
observing that he looked in eagerly at the staircase, when the house door
was opened, he asked him whether he would like to go in and see the new
house. "Yes, sir," said the boy, "I should like to go up those stairs,
and to see what I should come to."
"Up with you, then!" said Mr. Somerville; and the boy ran up the stairs.
He went from room to room with great expressions of admiration and
delight. At length, as he was examining one of the garrets, he was
startled by a fluttering noise over his head; and looking up, he saw a
white pigeon, who, frightened at his appearance, began to fly round and
round the room, till it found its way out of the door, and flew into the
The carpenter was speaking to Mr. Somerville upon the landing-place of
the stairs; but, the moment he spied the white pigeon, he broke off in
the midst of a speech about THE NOSE of the stairs, and exclaimed, "There
he is, please your honour! There's he that has done all the damage to
our bow-window--that's the very same wicked white pigeon that broke the
church windows last Sunday was se'nnight; but he's down for it now; we
have him safe, and I'll chop his head off, as he deserves, this minute."
"Stay! O stay! don't chop his head off: he does not deserve it," cried
the boy, who came running out of the garret with the greatest eagerness--
"_I_ broke your window, sir," said he to Mr. Somerville. "I broke your
window with this ball; but I did not know that I had done it, till this
moment, I assure you, or I should have told you before. Don't chop his
head off," added the boy to the carpenter, who had now the white pigeon
in his hands.
"No," said Mr. Somerville, "the pigeon's head shall not be chopped off,
nor yours either, my good boy, for breaking a window. I am persuaded by
your open, honest countenance, that you are speaking the truth; but pray
explain this matter to us; for you have not made it quite clear. How
happened it that you could break my windows without knowing it? and how
came you to find it out at last?"
"Sir," said the boy, "if you'll come up here, I'll show you all I know,
and how I came to know it."
Mr. Somerville followed the boy into the garret, who pointed to a pane of
glass that was broken in a small window that looked out upon a piece of
waste ground behind the house. Upon this piece of waste ground the
children of the village often used to play. "We were playing there at
ball yesterday evening," continued the boy, addressing himself to Mr.
Somerville, "and one of the lads challenged me to hit a mark in the wall,
which I did; but he said I did not hit it, and bade me give him up my
ball as the forfeit. This I would not do; and when he began to wrestle
with me for it, I threw the ball, as I thought, over the house. He ran
to look for it in the street, but could not find it, which I was very
glad of; but I was very sorry just now to find it myself lying upon this
heap of shavings, sir, under this broken window; for, as soon as I saw it
lying there, I knew I must have been the person that broke the window;
and through this window came the white pigeon. Here's one of his white
feathers sticking in the gap."
"Yes," said the carpenter, "and in the bow-window room below there's
plenty of his feathers to be seen; for I've just been down to look. It
was the pigeon broke THEM windows, sure enough."
"But he could not have got in had I not broke this little window," said
the boy, eagerly; "and I am able to earn sixpence a day, and I'll pay for
all the mischief, and welcome. The white pigeon belongs to a poor
neighbour, a friend of ours, who is very fond of him, and I would not
have him killed for twice as much money."
"Take the pigeon, my honest, generous lad," said Mr. Somerville, "and
carry him back to your neighbour. I forgive him all the mischief he has
done me, tell your friend, for your sake. As to the rest, we can have
the windows mended; and do you keep all the sixpences you earn for
"That's what he never did yet," said the carpenter. "Many's the sixpence
he earns, but not a halfpenny goes into his own pocket: it goes every
farthing to his poor father and mother. Happy for them to have such a
"More happy for him to have such a father and mother," exclaimed the boy.
"Their good days they took all the best care of me that was to be had for
love or money, and would, if I would let them, go on paying for my
schooling now, falling as they be in the world; but I must learn to mind
the shop now. Good morning to you, sir; and thank you kindly," said he
to Mr. Somerville.
"And where does this boy live, and who are his father and mother? They
cannot live in town," said Mr. Somerville, "or I should have heard of
"They are but just come into the town, please your honour," said the
carpenter. "They lived formerly upon Counsellor O'Donnel's estate; but
they were ruined, please your honour, by taking a joint lease with a man,
who fell afterwards into bad company, ran out all he had, so could not
pay the landlord; and these poor people were forced to pay his share and
their own too, which almost ruined them. They were obliged to give up
the land; and now they have furnished a little shop in this town with
what goods they could afford to buy with the money they got by the sale
of their cattle and stock. They have the good-will of all who know them;
and I am sure I hope they will do well. The boy is very ready in the
shop, though he said only that he could earn sixpence a day. He writes a
good hand, and is quick at casting up accounts, for his age. Besides, he
is likely to do well in the world, because he is never in idle company,
and I've known him since he was two foot high, and never heard of his
telling a lie."
"This is an excellent character of the boy, indeed," said Mr. Somerville,
"and from his behaviour this morning I am inclined to think that he
deserves all your praises."
Mr. Somerville resolved to inquire more fully concerning this poor
family, and to attend to their conduct himself, fully determined to
assist them if he should find them such as they had been represented.
In the meantime, this boy, whose name was Brian O'Neill, went to return
the white pigeon to its owner. "You have saved its life," said the woman
to whom it belonged, "and I'll make you a present of it." Brian thanked
her; and he from that day began to grow fond of the pigeon. He always
took care to scatter some oats for it in his father's yard; and the
pigeon grew so tame at last that it would hop about the kitchen, and eat
off the same trencher with the dog.
Brian, after the shop was shut up at night, used to amuse himself with
reading some little books which the schoolmaster who formerly taught him
arithmetic was so good as to lend him. Amongst these he one evening met
with a little book full of the history of birds and beasts; he looked
immediately to see whether the pigeon was mentioned amongst the birds,
and, to his great joy, he found a full description and history of his
"So, Brian, I see your schooling has not been thrown away upon you; you
like your book, I see, when you have no master over you to bid you read,"
said his father, when he came in and saw Brian reading his book very
"Thank you for having me taught to read, father," said Brian. "Here I've
made a great discovery: I've found out in this book, little as it looks,
father, a most curious way of making a fortune; and I hope it will make
your fortune, father; and if you'll sit down, I'll tell it to you."
Mr. O'Neill, in hopes of pleasing his son rather than in the expectation
of having his fortune made, immediately sat down to listen; and his son
explained to him, that he had found in his book an account of pigeons who
carried notes and letters: "and, father," continued Brian, "I find my
pigeon is of this sort; and I intend to make my pigeon carry messages.
Why should not he? If other pigeons have done so before him, I think he
is as good, and, I daresay, will be as easy to teach as any pigeon in the
world. I shall begin to teach him to-morrow morning; and then, father,
you know people often pay a great deal for sending messengers; and no boy
can run, no horse can gallop, so fast as a bird can fly; therefore the
bird must be the best messenger, and I should be paid the best price.
"To be sure, to be sure, my boy," said his father, laughing; "I wish you
may make the best messenger in Ireland of your pigeon; but all I beg, my
dear boy, is that you won't neglect our shop for your pigeon; for I've a
notion we have a better chance of making a fortune by the shop than by
the white pigeon."
Brian never neglected the shop; but in his leisure hours he amused
himself with training his pigeon; and after much patience he at last
succeeded so well, that one day he went to his father and offered to send
him word by his pigeon what beef was a pound in the market of
Ballynagrish, where he was going.
"The pigeon will be home long before me, father; and he will come in at
the kitchen window, and light upon the dresser; then you must untie the
little note which I shall have tied under his left wing, and you'll know
the price of beef directly."
The pigeon carried his message well; and Brian was much delighted with
his success. He soon was employed by the neighbours, who were aroused by
Brian's fondness of his swift messenger; and soon the fame of the white
pigeon was spread amongst all who frequented the markets and fairs of
At one of these fairs a set of men of desperate fortunes met to drink,
and to concert plans of robberies. Their place of meeting was at the
ale-house of Mr. Cox, the man who, as our readers may remember, was
offended by Mr. Somerville's hinting that he was fond of drinking and of
quarrelling, and who threatened vengeance for having been refused the new
Whilst these men were talking over their scheme, one of them observed,
that one of their companions was not arrived. Another said, "No." "He's
six miles off," said another; and a third wished that he could make him
hear at that distance. This turned the discourse upon the difficulties
of sending messages secretly and quickly. Cox's son, a lad of about
nineteen, who was one of this gang, mentioned the white carrier-pigeon,
and he was desired to try all means to get it into his possession.
Accordingly, the next day young Cox went to Brian O'Neill, and tried, at
first by persuasion and afterwards by threats, to prevail upon him to
give up the pigeon. Brian was resolute in his refusal, more especially
when the petitioner began to bully him.
"If we can't have it by fair means, we will by foul," said Cox; and a few
days afterwards the pigeon was gone. Brian searched for it in vain--
inquired from all the neighbours if they had seen it, and applied, but to
no purpose, to Cox. He swore that he knew nothing about the matter. But
this was false, for it was he who during the night-time had stolen the
white pigeon. He conveyed it to his employers, and they rejoiced that
they had gotten it into their possession, as they thought it would serve
them for a useful messenger.
Nothing can be more shortsighted than cunning. The very means which
these people took to secure secrecy were the means of bringing their
plots to light. They endeavoured to teach the pigeon, which they had
stolen, to carry messages for them in a part of the country at some
distance from Somerville; and when they fancied that it had forgotten its
former habits, and its old master, they thought that they might venture
to employ him nearer home. The pigeon, however, had a better memory than
they imagined. They loosed him from a bag near the town of Ballynagrish
in hopes that he would stop at the house of Cox's cousin, which was on
its road between Ballynagrish and Somerville. But the pigeon, though he
had been purposely fed at this house for a week before this trial, did
not stop there, but flew on to his old master's house in Somerville, and
pecked at the kitchen window, as he had formerly been taught to do. His
father, fortunately, was within hearing, and poor Brian ran with the
greatest joy to open the window and to let him in.
"O, father, here's my white pigeon come back of his own accord,"
exclaimed Brian; "I must run and show him to my mother." At this instant
the pigeon spread his wings, and Brian discovered under one of its wings
a small and very dirty looking billet. He opened it in his father's
presence. The scrawl was scarcely legible; but these words were at
"Thare are eight of uz sworn; I send yo at botom thare names. We meat at
tin this nite at my faders, and have harms and all in radiness to brak
into the grate 'ouse. Mr. Summervill is to lye out to nite--kip the
pigeon untill to-morrow. For ever yours, MURTAGH COX, JUN."
Scarcely had they finished reading this note, than both father and son
exclaimed, "Let us go and show it to Mr. Somerville." Before they set
out, they had, however, the prudence to secure the pigeon, so that he
should not be seen by anyone but themselves. Mr. Somerville, in
consequence of this fortunate discovery, took proper measures for the
apprehension of the eight men who had sworn to rob his house. When they
were all safely lodged in the county gaol, he sent for Brian O'Neill and
his father; and after thanking them for the service they had done him, he
counted out ten bright guineas upon a table, and pushed them towards
Brian, saying, "I suppose you know that a reward of ten guineas was
offered some weeks ago for the discovery of John Mac Dermod, one of the
eight men whom we have just taken up?"
"No, sir," said Brian; "I did not know it, and I did not bring that note
to you to get ten guineas, but because I thought it was right. I don't
want to be paid for doing it."
"That's my own boy," said his father. "We thank you, sir; but we'll not
take the money; I DON'T LIKE TO TAKE THE PRICE OF BLOOD."
"I know the difference, my good friends," said Mr. Somerville, "between
vile informers and courageous, honest men."
"Why, as to that, please your honour, though we are poor, I hope we are
"And, what is more," said Mr. Somerville, "I have a notion that you would
continue to be honest, even if you were rich. Will you, my good lad,"
continued Mr. Somerville, after a moment's pause--"will you trust me with
your pigeon a few days?"
"O, and welcome, sir," said the boy, with a smile; and he brought the
pigeon to Mr. Somerville when it was dark, and nobody saw him.
A few days afterwards, Mr. Somerville called at O'Neill's house, and bid
him and his son follow him. They followed till he stopped opposite to
the bow-window of the new inn. The carpenter had just put up a sign,
which was covered over with a bit of carpeting.
"Go up the ladder, will you?" said Mr. Somerville to Brian, "and pull
that sign straight, for it hangs quite crooked. There, now it is
straight. Now pull off the carpet, and let us see the new sign."
The boy pulled off the cover, and saw a white pigeon painted upon the
sign, and the name of O'Neill in large letters underneath.
"Take care you do not tumble down and break your neck upon this joyful
occasion," said Mr. Somerville, who saw that Brian's surprise was too
great for his situation. "Come down from the ladder, and wish your
father joy of being master of the new inn called the 'White Pigeon.' And
I wish him joy of having such a son as you are. Those who bring up their
children well, will certainly be rewarded for it, be they poor or rich."
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
"Mamma," said Rosamond, after a long silence, "do you know what I have
been thinking of all this time?"
"No, my dear.--What?"
"Why, mamma, about my cousin Bell's birthday; do you know what day it
"No, I don't remember."
"Dear mother! don't you remember it's the 22nd of December; and her
birthday is the day after to-morrow? Don't you recollect now? But you
never remember about birthdays, mamma. That was just what I was thinking
of, that you never remember my sister Laura's birthday, or-or-or MINE,
"What do you mean my dear? I remember your birthday perfectly well."
"Indeed! but you never KEEP it, though."
"What do you mean by keeping your birthday?"
"Oh, mamma, you know very well--as Bell's birthday is kept. In the first
place, there is a great dinner."
"And can Bell eat more upon her birthday than upon any other day?"
"No; nor I should not mind about the dinner, except the mince-pies. But
Bell has a great many nice things--I don't mean nice eatable things, but
nice new playthings, given to her always on her birthday; and everybody
drinks her health, and she's so happy."
"But stay, Rosamond, how you jumble things together! Is it everybody's
drinking her health that makes her so happy? or the new playthings, or
the nice mince pies? I can easily believe that she is happy whilst she
is eating a mince pie, or whilst she is playing; but how does everybody's
drinking her health at dinner make her happy?"
Rosamond paused, and then said she did not know. "But," added she, "the
NICE NEW playthings, mother!"
"But why the nice new playthings? Do you like them only because they are
"Not ONLY--_I_ do not like playthings ONLY because they are new; but Bell
DOES, I believe--for that puts me in mind--Do you know, mother, she had a
great drawer full of OLD playthings that she never used, and she said
that they were good for nothing, because they were OLD; but I thought
many of them were good for a great deal more than the new ones. Now you
shall be judge, mamma; I'll tell you all that was in the drawer."
"Nay, Rosamond, thank you, not just now; I have not time to listen to
"Well then, mamma, the day after to-morrow I can show you the drawer. I
want you to judge very much, because I am sure I was in the right. And,
mother," added Rosamond, stopping her as she was going out of the room,
"will you--not now, but when you've time--will you tell me why you never
keep my birthday--why you never make any difference between that day and
any other day?"
"And will you, Rosamond--not now, but when you have time to think about
it--tell me why I should make any difference between your birthday and
any other day?"
Rosamond thought, but she could not find out any reason; besides, she
suddenly recollected that she had not time to think any longer; for there
was a certain work-basket to be finished, which she was making for her
cousin Bell, as a present upon her birthday. The work was at a stand for
want of some filigree-paper, and, as her mother was going out, she asked
her to take her with her, that she might buy some. Her sister Laura went
"Sister," said Rosamond, as they were walking along, "what have you done
with your half-guinea?"
"I have it in my pocket."
"Dear! you will keep it for ever in your pocket. You know, my godmother
when she gave it to you, said you would keep it longer than I should keep
mine; and I know what she thought by her look at the time. I heard her
say something to my mother."