Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Parent's Assistant by Maria Edgeworth

Part 9 out of 10

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.1 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Arthur carried off the drawings, and one day, when his master was better
than usual, and when he was at leisure, eating a dessert of Francisco's
grapes, he entered respectfully, with his little portfolio under his arm,
and begged permission to show his master a few drawings done by the
gardener's son, whose grapes he was eating.

Though not quite so partial a judge as the enthusiastic Carlo, this
gentleman was both pleased and surprised at the sight of these drawings,
considering how short a time Francisco had applied himself to this art,
and what slight instructions he had received. Arthur was desired to
summon the young artist. Francisco's honest, open manner, joined to the
proofs he had given of his abilities, and the character Arthur gave him
for strict honesty, and constant kindness to his parents, interested Mr.
Lee, the name of this English gentleman, much in his favour. Mr. Lee was
at this time in treaty with an Italian painter, whom he wished to engage
to copy for him exactly some of the cornices, mouldings, tablets, and
antique ornaments which are to be seen amongst the ruins of the ancient
city of Herculaneum. *

* We must give those of our young English readers who may not be
acquainted with the ancient city of Herculaneum, some idea of it. None
can be ignorant that near Naples is the celebrated volcanic mountain of
Vesuvius;--that, from time to time, there happen violent eruptions from
this mountain; that is to say, flames and immense clouds of smoke issue
from different openings, mouths, or CRATERS, as they are called, but more
especially from the summit of the mountain, which is distinguished by the
name of THE crater. A rumbling, and afterwards a roaring noise is heard
within, and prodigious quantities of stones and minerals burnt into
masses (scoriae), are thrown out of the crater, sometimes to a great
distance. The hot ashes from Mount Vesuvius have often been seen upon
the roofs of the houses of Naples, from which it is six miles distant.
Streams of lava run down the sides of the mountains during the time of an
eruption, destroying everything in their way, and overwhelm the houses
and vineyards which are in the neighbourhood.

About 17OO years ago, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Titus, there
happened a terrible eruption of Mount Vesuvius; and a large city called
Herculaneum, which was situated at about four miles' distance from the
volcano, was overwhelmed by the streams of lava which poured into it,
filled up the streets, and quickly covered over the tops of the houses,
so that the whole was no more visible. It remained for many years
buried. The lava which covered it became in time fit for vegetation,
plants grew there, a new soil was formed, and a new town called Portici
was built over this place where Herculaneum formerly stood. The little
village of Resina is also situated near the spot. About fifty years ago,
in a poor man's garden at Resina, a hole in a well about thirty feet
below the surface of the earth was observed. Some persons had the
curiosity to enter into this hole, and, after creeping underground for
some time, they came to the foundations of houses. The peasants,
inhabitants of the village, who had probably never heard of Herculaneum,
were somewhat surprised at their discovery.** About the same time, in a
pit in the town of Portici, a similar passage underground was discovered,
and, by orders of the King of Naples, workmen were employed to dig away
the earth, and clear the passage. They found, at length, the entrance
into the town, which, during the reign of Titus, was buried under lava.
It was about eighty-eight Neapolitan palms (a palm contains near nine
inches) below the top of the pit. The workmen, as they cleared the
passages, marked their way with chalk when they came to any turning, lest
they should lose themselves. The streets branched out in many
directions, and, lying across them, the workmen often found large pieces
of timber, beams, and rafters; some broken in the fall, others entire.
These beams and rafters are burned quite black like charcoal, except
those that were found in moist places, which have more the colour of
rotten wood, and which are like a soft paste, into which you might run
your hand. The walls of the houses slant, some one way, some another,
and some are upright. Several magnificent buildings of brick, faced with
marble of different colours, are partly seen, where the workmen have
cleared away the earth and lava with which they were encrusted. Columns
of red and white marble, and flights of steps, are seen in different
places; and out of the ruins of the palaces some very fine statues and
pictures have been dug. Foreigners who visit Naples are very curious to
see this subterraneous city, and are desirous to carry with them into
their own country some proofs of their having examined this wonderful

** Philosophical Transactions, vol. ix. p. 440.


Tutte le gran faciende si fanno di poca cosa.
What great events from trivial causes spring.

Signor Camillo, the artist employed by Mr. Lee to copy some of the
antique ornaments in Herculaneum, was a liberal minded man, perfectly
free from that mean jealousy which would repress the efforts of rising

"Here is a lad scarcely fifteen, a poor gardener's son, who, with merely
the instructions he could obtain from a common carpenter, has learned to
draw these plans and elevations, which you see are tolerably neat. What
an advantage your instruction would be to him," said Mr. Lee, as he
introduced Francisco to Signor Camillo. "I am interested in this lad
from what I have learned of his good conduct. I hear he is strictly
honest, and one of the best of sons. Let us do something for him. If
you will give him some knowledge of your art, I will, as far as money can
recompense you for your loss of time, pay whatever you may think
reasonable for his instruction."

Signor Camillo made no difficulties; he was pleased with his pupil's
appearance, and every day he liked him better and better. In the room
where they worked together there were some large books of drawings and
plates, which Francisco saw now and then opened by his master, and which
he had a great desire to look over; but when he was left in the room by
himself he never touched them, because he had not permission. Signor
Camillo, the first day he came into this room with his pupil, said to
him, "Here are many valuable books and drawings, young man. I trust,
from the character I have heard of you, that they will be perfectly safe

Some weeks after Francisco had been with the painter, they had occasion
to look for the front of a temple in one of these large books. "What!
don't you know in which book to look for it, Francisco?" cried his
master, with some impatience. "Is it possible that you have been here so
long with these books, and that you cannot find the print I mean? Had
you half the taste I gave you credit for, you would have singled it out
from all the rest, and have it fixed in your memory."

"But, signor, I never saw it," said Francisco, respectfully, "or,
perhaps, I should have preferred it."

"That you never saw it, young man, is the very thing of which I complain.
Is a taste for the arts to be learned, think you, by looking at the cover
of a book like this? Is it possible that you never thought of opening

"Often and often," cried Francisco, "have I longed to open it; but I
thought it was forbidden me, and however great my curiosity in your
absence, I have never touched them. I hoped indeed, that the time would
come when you would have the goodness to show them to me."

"And so the time is come, excellent young man," cried Camillo; "much as I
love taste, I love integrity more. I am now sure of your having the one,
and let me see whether you have, as I believe you have, the other. Sit
you down here beside me; and we will look over these books together."

The attention with which his young pupil examined everything, and the
pleasure he unaffectedly expressed in seeing these excellent prints,
sufficiently convinced his judicious master that it was not from the want
of curiosity or taste that he had never opened these tempting volumes.
His confidence in Francisco was much increased by this circumstance,
slight as it may appear.

One day, Signor Camillo came behind Francisco, as he was drawing with
much intentness, and tapping him upon the shoulder, he said to him: "Put
up your pencils and follow me, I can depend upon your integrity; I have
pledged myself for it. Bring your note-book with you, and follow me; I
will this day show you something that will entertain you at least as much
as my large book of prints. Follow me."

Francisco followed, till they came to the pit near the entrance of
Herculaneum. "I have obtained leave for you to accompany me," said his
master, "and you know, I suppose, that this is not a permission granted
to everyone?" Paintings of great value, besides ornaments of gold and
silver, antique bracelets, rings, etc., are from time to time found
amongst these ruins, and therefore it is necessary that no person should
be admitted whose honesty cannot be depended upon. Thus, even
Francisco's talents could not have advanced him in the world, unless they
had been united to integrity. He was much delighted and astonished by
the new scene that was now opened to his view; and as, day after day, he
accompanied his master to this subterraneous city, he had leisure for
observation. He was employed, as soon as he had gratified his curiosity,
in drawing. There are niches in the walls in several places, from which
pictures have been dug, and these niches are often adorned with elegant
masques, figures and animals, which have been left by the ignorant or
careless workmen, and which are going fast to destruction. Signor
Camillo, who was copying these for his English employer, had a mind to
try his pupil's skill, and, pointing to a niche bordered with grotesque
figures, he desired him to try if he could make any hand of it.
Francisco made several trials, and at last finished such an excellent
copy, that his enthusiastic and generous master, with warm encomiums,
carried it immediately to his patron, and he had the pleasure to receive
from Mr. Lee a purse containing five guineas, as a reward and
encouragement for his pupil.

Francisco had no sooner received this money, than he hurried to his
father and mother's cottage. His mother, some months before this time,
had taken a small dairy farm; and her son had once heard her express a
wish that she was but rich enough to purchase a remarkably fine brindled
cow, which belonged to a farmer in the neighbourhood.

"Here, my dear mother," cried Francisco, pouring the guineas into her
lap; "and here," continued he, emptying a bag which contained about as
much more, in small Italian coins, the profits of trade-money he had
fairly earned during the two years he sold fruit amongst the little
Neapolitan merchants; "this is all yours, dearest mother, and I hope it
will be enough to pay for the brindled cow. Nay, you must not refuse me-
-I have set my heart upon the cow being milked by you this very evening;
and I'll produce my best bunches of grapes, and my father, perhaps, will
give us a melon; for I've had no time for melons this season; and I'll
step to Naples and invite--may I, mother?--my good friends, dear Carlo
and your favourite little Rosetta, and my old drawing master, and my
friend Arthur, and we'll sup with you at your dairy."

The happy mother thanked her son, and the father assured him that neither
melon nor pine-apple should be spared, to make a supper worthy of his

The brindled cow was bought, and Arthur and Carlo and Rosetta most
joyfully accepted their invitation.

The carpenter had unluckily appointed to settle a long account that day
with one of his employers, and he could not accompany his children. It
was a delicious evening; they left Naples just as the sea-breeze, after
the heats of the day, was most refreshingly felt. The walk to Resina,
the vineyard, the dairy, and most of all, the brindled cow, were praised
by Carlo and Rosetta, with all the Italian superlatives which signify,
"Most beautiful! most delightful! most charming!" Whilst the English
Arthur, with as warm a heart, was more temperate in his praise, declaring
that this was "the most like an English summer's evening of any he had
ever felt since he came to Italy: and that, moreover, the cream was
almost as good as what he had been used to drink in Cheshire." The
company, who were all pleased with each other, and with the gardener's
good fruit, which he produced in great abundance, did not think of
separating till late.

It was a bright moonlight night, and Carlo asked his friend if he would
walk with them part of the way to Naples. "Yes, all the way most
willingly," cried Francisco, "that I may have the pleasure of giving to
your father, with my own hands, this fine bunch of grapes, that I have
reserved for him out of my own share."

"Add this fine pine-apple for my share, then," said his father, "and a
pleasant walk to you, my young friends."

They proceeded gaily along, and when they reached Naples, as they passed
through the square where the little merchants held their market,
Francisco pointed to the spot where he found Carlo's rule. He never
missed an opportunity of showing his friends that he did not forget their
former kindness to him. "That rule," said he, "has been the cause of all
my present happiness, and I thank you for--"

"Oh, never mind thanking him now," interrupted Rosetta, "but look yonder,
and tell me what all those people are about." She pointed to a group of
men, women and children, who were assembled under a piazza, listening in
various attitudes of attention to a man, who was standing upon a flight
of steps speaking in a loud voice, and with much action, to the people
who surrounded him. Francisco, Carlo and Rosetta joined his audience.
The moon shone full upon his countenance, which was very expressive and
which varied frequently according to the characters of the persons whose
history he was telling, according to all the changes of their fortune.
This man was one of those who are called Improvisatori--persons who, in
Italian towns, go about reciting verses or telling stories, which they
are supposed to invent as they go on speaking. Some of these people speak
with great fluency, and collect crowds round them in the public streets.
When an Improvisatore sees the attention of his audience fixed, and when
he comes to some very interesting part of his narrative, he dexterously
drops his hat upon the ground, and pauses till his auditors have paid
tribute to his eloquence. When he thinks the hat sufficiently full, he
takes it up again, and proceeds with his story. The hat was dropped just
as Francisco and his two friends came under the piazza. The orator had
finished one story, and was going to commence another. He fixed his eyes
upon Francisco, then glanced at Carlo and Rosetta, and after a moment's
consideration he began a story which bore some resemblance to one that
our young English readers may, perhaps, know by the name of "Cornaro, or
the Grateful Turk."

Francisco was deeply interested in this narrative, and when the hat was
dropped, he eagerly threw in his contribution. At the end of the story,
when the speaker's voice stopped, there was a momentary silence, which
was broken by the orator himself, who exclaimed, as he took up the hat
which lay at his feet, "My friends, here is some mistake! this is not my
hat; it has been changed whilst I was taken up with my story. Pray,
gentlemen, find my hat amongst you; it was a remarkably good one, a
present from a nobleman for an epigram I made. I would not lose my hat
for twice its value. It has my name written withinside of it, Dominicho,
Improvisatore. Pray, gentlemen, examine your hats."

Everybody present examined their hats, and showed them to Dominicho, but
his was not amongst them. No one had left the company; the piazza was
cleared, and searched in vain. "The hat has vanished by magic," said

"Yes, and by the same magic a statue moves," cried Carlo, pointing to a
figure standing in a niche, which had hitherto escaped observation. The
face was so much in the shade, that Carlo did not at first perceive that
the statue was Piedro. Piedro, when he saw himself discovered, burst
into a loud laugh, and throwing down Dominicho's hat, which he held in
his hand behind him, cried, "A pretty set of novices! Most excellent
players at hide-and-seek you would make."

Whether Piedro really meant to have carried off the poor man's hat, or
whether he was, as he said, merely in jest, we leave it to those who know
his general character to decide.

Carlo shook his head. "Still at your old tricks, Piedro," said he.
"Remember the old proverb: No fox so cunning but he comes to the
furrier's at last." *

* Tutte le volpi si trovano in pellicera.

"I defy the furrier and you, too," replied Piedro, taking up his own
ragged hat. "I have no need to steal hats; I can afford to buy better
than you'll have upon your head. Francisco, a word with you, if you have
done crying at the pitiful story you have been listening to so

"And what would you say to me?" said Francisco, following him a few
steps. "Do not detain me long, because my friends will wait for me."

"If they are friends, they can wait," said Piedro. "You need not be
ashamed of being seen in my company now, I can tell you; for I am, as I
always told you I should be, the richest man of the two."

"Rich! you rich?" cried Francisco. "Well, then, it was impossible you
could mean to trick that poor man out of his good hat."

"Impossible!" said Piedro. Francisco did not consider that those who
have habits of pilfering continue to practise them often, when the
poverty which first tempted them to dishonesty ceases. "Impossible! You
stare when I tell you I am rich; but the thing is so. Moreover, I am
well with my father at home. I have friends in Naples, and I call myself
Piedro the Lucky. Look you here," said he, producing an old gold coin.
"This does not smell of fish, does it? My father is no longer a
fisherman, nor I either. Neither do I sell sugar-plums to children: nor
do I slave myself in a vineyard, like some folks; but fortune, when I
least expected it, has stood my friend. I have many pieces of gold like
this. Digging in my father's garden, it was my luck to come to an old
Roman vessel full of gold. I have this day agreed for a house in Naples
for my father. We shall live, whilst we can afford it, like great folks,
you will see; and I shall enjoy the envy that will be felt by some of my
old friends, the little Neapolitan merchants, who will change their note
when they see my change of fortune. What say you to all this, Francisco
the Honest?"

"That I wish you joy of your prosperity, and hope you may enjoy it long
and well."

"Well, no doubt of that. Everyone who has it enjoys it WELL. He always
dances well to whom fortune pipes." *

* Assai ben balla a chi fortuna suona.

"Yes, no longer pipe, no longer dance," replied Francisco; and here they
parted; for Piedro walked away abruptly, much mortified to perceive that
his prosperity did not excite much envy, or command any additional
respect from Francisco.

"I would rather," said Francisco, when he returned to Carlo and Rosetta,
who waited for him under the portico, where he left them--"I would rather
have such good friends as you, Carlo and Arthur, and some more I could
name, and, besides that, have a clear conscience, and work honestly for
my bread, than be as lucky as Piedro. Do you know he has found a
treasure, he says, in his father's garden--a vase full of gold? He
showed me one of the gold pieces."

"Much good may they do him. I hope he came honestly by them," said
Carlo; "but ever since the affair of the double measure, I suspect
double-dealing always from him. It is not our affair, however. Let him
make himself happy his way, and we ours.

"He that would live in peace and rest,
Must hear, and see, and say the best." *

* Odi, vedi, taci, se vuoi viver in pace.

All Piedro's neighbours did not follow this peaceable maxim; for when he
and his father began to circulate the story of the treasure found in the
garden, the village of Resina did not give them implicit faith. People
nodded and whispered, and shrugged their shoulders; then crossed
themselves, and declared that they would not, for all the riches of
Naples, change places with either Piedro or his father. Regardless, or
pretending to be regardless, of these suspicions, Piedro and his father
persisted in their assertions. The fishing-nets were sold, and
everything in their cottage was disposed of; they left Resina, went to
live at Naples, and, after a few weeks, the matter began to be almost
forgotten in the village.

The old gardener, Francisco's father, was one of those who endeavoured to
THINK THE BEST; and all that he said upon the subject was, that he would
not exchange Francisco the Honest for Piedro the Lucky; that one can't
judge of the day till one sees the evening as well as the morning. *

* La vita il fine,--e di loda la sera.
"Compute the morn and evening of their day."--Pope.

Not to leave our readers longer in suspense, we must inform them that the
peasants of Resina were right in their suspicions. Piedro had never
found any treasure in his father's garden, but he came by his gold in the
following manner:--

After he was banished from the little wood-market for stealing Rosetta's
basketful of wood, after he had cheated the poor woman, who let glasses
out to hire, out of the value of the glasses which he broke, and, in
short, after he had entirely lost his credit with all who knew him, he
roamed about the streets of Naples, reckless of what became of him.

He found the truth of the proverb, "that credit lost is like a Venice
glass broken--it can't be mended again." The few shillings which he had
in his pocket supplied him with food for a few days. At last he was glad
to be employed by one of the peasants who came to Naples to load their
asses with manure out of the streets. They often follow very early in
the morning, or during the night-time, the trace of carriages that are
gone, or that are returning from the opera; and Piedro was one night at
this work, when the horses of a nobleman's carriage took fright at the
sudden blaze of some fireworks. The carriage was overturned near him; a
lady was taken out of it, and was hurried by her attendants into a shop,
where she stayed till her carriage was set to rights. She was too much
alarmed for the first ten minutes after her accident to think of
anything; but after some time, she perceived that she had lost a valuable
diamond cross, which she had worn that night at the opera. She was
uncertain where she had dropped it; the shop, the carriage, the street,
were searched for it in vain.

Piedro saw it fall as the lady was lifted out of the carriage, seized
upon it, and carried it off. Ignorant as he was of the full value of
what he had stolen, he knew not how to satisfy himself as to this point,
without trusting someone with the secret.

After some hesitation, he determined to apply to a Jew, who, as it was
whispered, was ready to buy everything that was offered to him for sale,
without making any TROUBLESOME inquiries. It was late; he waited till
the streets were cleared, and then knocked softly at the back door of the
Jew's house. The person who opened the door for Piedro was his own
father. Piedro started back; but his father had fast hold of him.

"What brings you here?" said the father, in a low voice, a voice which
expressed fear and rage mixed.

"Only to ask my way--my shortest way," stammered Piedro.

"No equivocations! Tell me what brings you here at this time of the
night? I WILL know."

Piedro, who felt himself in his father's grasp, and who knew that his
father would certainly search him, to find out what he had brought to
sell, thought it most prudent to produce the diamond cross. His father
could but just see its lustre by the light of a dim lamp, which hung over
their heads in the gloomy passage in which they stood.

"You would have been duped, if you had gone to sell this to the Jew. It
is well it has fallen into my hands. How came you by it?" Piedro
answered that he had found it in the street. "Go your ways home, then,"
said his father; "it is safe with me. Concern yourself no more about

Piedro was not inclined thus to relinquish his booty, and he now thought
proper to vary in his account of the manner in which he found the cross.
He now confessed that it had dropped from the dress of a lady, whose
carriage was overturned as she was coming home from the opera, and he
concluded by saying that, if his father took his prize from him without
giving him his share of the profits, he would go directly to the shop
where the lady stopped whilst her servants were raising the carriage, and
that he would give notice of his having found the cross.

Piedro's father saw that his SMART son, though scarcely sixteen years of
age, was a match for him in villainy. He promised him that he should
have half of whatever the Jew would give for the diamonds, and Piedro
insisted upon being present at the transaction.

We do not wish to lay open to our young readers scenes of iniquity. It
is sufficient to say that the Jew, who was a man old in all the arts of
villainy, contrived to cheat both his associates, and obtained the
diamond cross for less than half its value. The matter was managed so
that the transaction remained undiscovered. The lady who lost the cross,
after making fruitless inquiries, gave up the search, and Piedro and his
father rejoiced in the success of their manoeuvres.

It is said, that "Ill gotten wealth is quickly spent"; * and so it proved
in this instance. Both father and son lived a riotous life as long as
their money lasted, and it did not last many months. What his bad
education began, bad company finished, and Piedro's mind was completely
ruined by the associates with whom he became connected during what he
called his PROSPERITY. When his money was at an end, these unprincipled
friends began to look cold upon him, and at last plainly told him--"If
you mean to LIVE WITH US, you must LIVE AS WE DO." They lived by

* Vien presto consumato l'ingiustamente acquistato.

Piedro, though familiarized to the idea of fraud, was shocked at the
thought of becoming a robber by profession. How difficult it is to stop
in the career of vice! Whether Piedro had power to stop, or whether he
was hurried on by his associates, we shall, for the present, leave in


We turn with pleasure from Piedro the Cunning to Francisco the Honest.
Francisco continued the happy and useful course of his life. By his
unremitting perseverance, he improved himself rapidly under the
instructions of his master and friend, Signor Camillo; his friend, we
say, for the fair and open character of Francisco won, or rather earned,
the friendship of this benevolent artist. The English gentleman seemed
to take a pride in our hero's success and good conduct. He was not one
of those patrons who think that they have done enough when they have
given five guineas. His servant Arthur always considered every generous
action of his master's as his own, and was particularly pleased whenever
this generosity was directed towards Francisco.

As for Carlo and the little Rosetta, they were the companions of all the
pleasant walks which Francisco used to take in the cool of the evening,
after he had been shut up all day at his work. And the old carpenter,
delighted with the gratitude of his pupil, frequently repeated--"that he
was proud to have given the first instructions to such a GENIUS; and that
he had always prophesied Francisco would be a GREAT man."

"And a good man, papa," said Rosetta; "for though he has grown so great,
and though he goes into palaces now, to say nothing of that place
underground, where he has leave to go, yet, notwithstanding all this, he
never forgets my brother Carlo and you."

"That's the way to have good friends," said the carpenter. "And I like
his way; he does more than he says. Facts are masculine, and words are
feminine." *

* I fatti sono maschii, le parole femmine.

These goods friends seemed to make Francisco happier than Piedro could be
made by his stolen diamonds.

One morning, Francisco was sent to finish a sketch of the front of an
ancient temple, amongst the ruins of Herculaneum. He had just reached
the pit, and the men were about to let him down with cords, in the usual
manner, when his attention was caught by the shrill sound of a scolding
woman's voice. He looked, and saw at some paces distant this female
fury, who stood guarding the windlass of a well, to which, with
threatening gestures and most voluble menaces, she forbade all access.
The peasants--men, women and children, who had come with their pitchers
to draw water at this well--were held at bay by the enraged female. Not
one dared to be the first to advance; whilst she grasped with one hand
the handle of the windlass, and, with the other tanned muscular arm
extended, governed the populace, bidding them remember that she was
padrona, or mistress of the well. They retired, in hopes of finding a
more gentle padrona at some other well in the neighbourhood; and the
fury, when they were out of sight, divided the long black hair which hung
over her face, and, turning to one of the spectators, appealed to them in
a sober voice, and asked if she was not right in what she had done? "I,
that am padrona of the well," said she, addressing herself to Francisco,
who, with great attention, was contemplating her with the eye of a
painter--"I, that am padrona of the well, must in times of scarcity do
strict justice, and preserve for ourselves alone the water of our well.
There is scarcely enough even for ourselves. I have been obliged to make
my husband lengthen the ropes every day for this week past. If things go
on at this rate, there will soon be not one drop of water left in my

"Nor in any of the wells of the neighbourhood," added one of the workmen,
who was standing by; and he mentioned several in which the water had
lately suddenly decreased; and a miller affirmed that his mill had
stopped for want of water.

Francisco was struck by these remarks. They brought to his recollection
similar facts, which he had often heard his father mention in his
childhood, as having been observed previous to the last eruption of Mount
Vesuvius. * He had also heard from his father, in his childhood, that it
is better to trust to prudence than to fortune; and therefore, though the
peasants and workmen, to whom he mentioned his fears, laughed, and said,
"That as the burning mountain had been favourable to them for so many
years, they would trust to it and St. Januarius one day longer," yet
Francisco immediately gave up all thoughts of spending this day amidst
the ruins of Herculaneum. After having inquired sufficiently, after
having seen several wells, in which the water had evidently decreased,
and after having seen the mill-wheels that were standing still for want
of their usual supply, he hastened home to his father and mother,
reported what he had heard and seen, and begged of them to remove, and to
take what things of value they could to some distance from the dangerous
spot where they now resided.

* Phil. Trans. vol. ix.

Some of the inhabitants of Resina, whom he questioned, declared that they
had heard strange rumbling noises underground; and a peasant and his son,
who had been at work the preceding day in a vineyard, a little above the
village, related that they had seen a sudden puff of smoke come out of
the earth, close to them; and that they had, at the same time, heard a
noise like the going off of a pistol. *

* These facts are mentioned in Sir William Hamilton's account of an
eruption of Mount Vesuvius.--See Phil. Trans. 1795, first part.

The villagers listened with large eyes and open ears to these relations;
yet such was their habitual attachment to the spot they lived upon, or
such the security in their own good fortune, that few of them would
believe that there could be any necessity for removing.--"We'll see what
will happen to-morrow; we shall be safe here one day longer," said they.

Francisco's father and mother, more prudent than the generality of their
neighbours, went to the house of a relation, at some miles' distance from
Vesuvius, and carried with them all their effects.

In the meantime, Francisco went to the villa where his English friends
resided. The villa was in a most dangerous situation, near Terre del
Greco--a town that stands at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. He related all
the facts that he had heard to Arthur, who, not having been, like the
inhabitants of Resina, familiarized to the idea of living in the vicinity
of a burning mountain, and habituated to trust in St. Januarius, was
sufficiently alarmed by Francisco's representations. He ran to his
master's apartment, and communicated all that he had just heard. The
Count de Flora and his lady, who were at this time in the house,
ridiculed the fears of Arthur, and could not be prevailed upon to remove
even as far as Naples. The lady was intent upon preparations for her
birthday, which was to be celebrated in a few days with great
magnificence at their villa; and she observed that it would be a pity to
return to town before that day, and they had everything arranged for the
festival. The prudent Englishman had not the gallantry to appear to be
convinced by these arguments, and he left the place of danger. He left
it not too soon, for the next morning exhibited a scene--a scene which we
shall not attempt to describe.

We refer our young readers to the account of this dreadful eruption of
Mount Vesuvius, published by Sir W. Hamilton in the "Philosophical
Transactions." It is sufficient here to say that, in the space of about
five hours, the wretched inhabitants of Torre del Greco saw their town
utterly destroyed by the streams of burning lava which poured from the
mountain. The villa of Count de Flora, with some others, which were at a
little distance from the town, escaped; but they were absolutely
surrounded by the lava. The count and countess were obliged to fly from
their house with the utmost precipitation in the night-time; and they had
not time to remove any of their furniture, their plate, clothes, or

A few days after the eruption, the surface of the lava became so cool
that people could walk upon it, though several feet beneath the surface
it was still exceedingly hot. Numbers of those who had been forced from
their houses now returned to the ruins to try to save whatever they
could. But these unfortunate persons frequently found their houses had
been pillaged by robbers, who, in these moments of general confusion,
enrich themselves with the spoils of their fellow-creatures.

"Has the count abandoned his villa? and is there no one to take care of
his plate and furniture? The house will certainly be ransacked before
morning," said the old carpenter to Francisco, who was at his house
giving him an account of their flight. Francisco immediately went to the
count's house in warn him of his danger. The first person he saw was
Arthur, who, with a face of terror, said to him, "Do you know what has
happened? It is all over with Resina!"

"All over with Resina! What, has there been a fresh eruption? Has the
lava reached Resina?"

"No; but it will inevitably be blown up. There," said Arthur, pointing
to a thin figure of an Italian, who stood pale and trembling, and looking
up to heaven as he crossed himself repeatedly. "There," said Arthur, "is
a man who has left a parcel of his cursed rockets and fireworks, with I
don't know how much gunpowder, in the count's house, from which we have
just fled. The wind blows that way. One spark of fire, and the whole is
blown up."

Francisco waited not to hear more; but instantly, without explaining his
intentions to anyone, set out for the count's villa, and, with a bucket
of water in his hand, crossed the beds of lava with which the house was
encompassed; when, reaching the hall where the rockets and gunpowder were
left, he plunged them into the water, and returned with them in safety
over the lava, yet warm under his feet.

What was the surprise and joy of the poor firework-maker when he saw
Francisco return from this dangerous expedition! He could scarcely
believe his eyes, when he saw the rockets and the gunpowder all safe.

The count, who had given up the hopes of saving his palace, was in
admiration when he heard of this instance of intrepidity, which properly
saved not only his villa, but the whole village of Resina, from
destruction. These fireworks had been prepared for the celebration of
the countess' birthday, and were forgotten in the hurry of the night on
which the inhabitants fled from Torre del Greco.

"Brave young man!" said the count to Francisco, "I thank you, and shall
not limit my gratitude to thanks. You tell me that there is danger of my
villa being pillaged by robbers. It is from this moment your interest,
as well as mine, to prevent their depredations; for (trust to my
liberality) a portion of all that is saved of mine shall be yours."

"Bravo! bravissimo!" exclaimed one, who started from a recessed window in
the hall where all this passed. "Bravo! bravissimo!"--Francisco thought
he knew the voice and the countenance of this man, who exclaimed with so
much enthusiasm. He remembered to have seen him before, but when, or
where, he could not recollect. As soon as the count left the hall, the
stranger came up to Francisco. "Is it possible," said he, "that you
don't know me? It is scarcely a twelvemonth since I drew tears from your

"Tears from my eyes?" repeated Francisco, smiling; "I have shed but few
tears. I have had but few misfortunes in my life." The stranger
answered him by two extempore Italian lines, which conveyed nearly the
same idea that has been so well expressed by an English poet:--

"To each their sufferings--all are men
Condemn'd alike to groan;
The feeling for another's woes,
Th' unfeeling for his own."

"I know you now perfectly well," cried Francisco; "you are the
Improvisatore who, one fine moonlight night last summer, told us the
story of Cornaro the Turk."

"The same," said the Improvisatore; "the same, though in a better dress,
which I should not have thought would have made so much difference in
your eyes, though it makes all the difference between man and man in the
eyes of the stupid vulgar. My genius has broken through the clouds of
misfortune of late. A few happy impromptu verses I made on the Count de
Flora's fall from his horse attracted attention. The count patronizes
me. I am here now to learn the fate of an ode I have just composed for
his lady's birthday. My ode was to have been set to music, and to have
been performed at his villa near Torre del Greco, if these troubles had
not intervened. Now that the mountain is quiet again, people will return
to their senses. I expect to be munificently rewarded. But, perhaps, I
detain you. Go; I shall not forget to celebrate the heroic action you
have performed this day. I still amuse myself amongst the populace in my
tattered garb late in the evenings, and I shall sound your praises
through Naples in a poem I mean to recite on the late eruption of Mount
Vesuvius. Adieu."

The Improvisatore was as good as his word. That evening, with more than
his usual enthusiasm, he recited his verses to a great crowd of people in
one of the public squares. Amongst the crowd were several to whom the
name of Francisco was well known, and by whom he was well beloved. These
were his young companions, who remembered him as a fruit-seller amongst
the little merchants. They rejoiced to hear his praises, and repeated
the lines with shouts of applause.

"Let us pass. What is all this disturbance in the streets?" said a man,
pushing his way through the crowd. A lad who held by his arm stopped
suddenly on hearing the name of Francisco, which the people were
repeating with so much enthusiasm.

"Ha! I have found at last a story that interests you more than that of
Cornaro the Turk," cried the Improvisatore, looking in the face of the
youth, who had stopped so suddenly. "You are the young man who, last
summer, had liked to have tricked me out of my new hat. Promise me you
won't touch it now," said he, throwing down the hat at his feet, "or you
hear not one word I have to say. Not one word of the heroic action
performed at the villa of the Count de Flora, near Torre del Greco, this
morning, by Signor Francisco."

"SIGNOR Francisco!" repeated the lad with disdain. "Well, let us hear
what you have to tell of him," added he. "Your hat is very safe, I
promise you; I shall not touch it. What of SIGNOR Francisco?"

"SIGNOR Francisco I may, without impropriety, call him," said the
Improvisatore, "for he is likely to become rich enough to command the
title from those who might not otherwise respect his merit."

"Likely to become rich! how?" said the lad, whom our readers have
probably before this time discovered to be Piedro. "How, pray, is he
likely to become rich enough to be a signor?"

"The Count de Flora has promised him a liberal portion of all the fine
furniture, plate and jewels that can be saved from his villa at Torre del
Greco. Francisco is gone down hither now with some of the count's
domestics to protect the valuable goods against those villainous
plunderers, who robbed their fellow-creatures of what even the flames of
Vesuvius would spare."

"Come, we have had enough of this stuff," cried the man whose arm Piedro
held. "Come away," and he hurried forwards.

This man was one of the villains against whom the honest orator expressed
such indignation. He was one of those with whom Piedro got acquainted
during the time that he was living extravagantly upon the money he gained
by the sale of the stolen diamond cross. That robbery was not
discovered; and his success, as he called it, hardened him in guilt. He
was both unwilling and unable to withdraw himself from the bad company
with whom his ill gotten wealth connected him. He did not consider that
bad company leads to the gallows. *

* La mala compagnia e quella che mena uomini a la forca.

The universal confusion which followed the eruption of Mount Vesuvius was
to these villains a time of rejoicing. No sooner did Piedro's companion
hear of the rich furniture, plate, etc., which the imprudent orator had
described as belonging to the Count de Flora's villa, than he longed to
make himself master of the whole.

"It is a pity," said Piedro, "that the count has sent Francisco, with his
servants down to guard it."

"And who is this Francisco of whom you seem to stand in so much awe?"

"A boy, a young lad only, of about my own age; but I know him to be
sturdily honest. The servants we might corrupt; but even the old proverb
of 'Angle with a silver hook,' * won't hold good with him."

* Pescar col hamo d'argento.

"And if he cannot be won by fair means, he must be conquered by foul,"
said the desperate villain; "but if we offer him rather more than the
count has already promised for his share of the booty, of course he will
consult at once his safety and his interest."

"No," said Piedro; "that is not his nature. I know him from a child, and
we had better think of some other house for to-night's business."

"None other; none but this," cried his companion, with an oath. "My mind
is determined upon this, and you must obey your leader: recollect the
fate of him who failed me yesterday."

The person to whom he alluded was one of the gang of robbers who had been
assassinated by his companions for hesitating to commit some crime
suggested by their leader. No tyranny is so dreadful as that which is
exercised by villains over their young accomplices, who become their
slaves. Piedro, who was of a cowardly nature, trembled at the
threatening countenance of his captain, and promised submission.

In the course of the morning, inquiries were made secretly amongst the
count's servants; and the two men who were engaged to sit up at the villa
that night along with Francisco, were bribed to second the views of this
gang of thieves. It was agreed that about midnight the robbers should be
let into the house; that Francisco should be tied hand and foot, whilst
they carried off their booty. "He is a stubborn chap, though so young, I
understand," said the captain of the robbers to his men; "but we carry
poniards, and know how to use them. Piedro, you look pale. You don't
require to be reminded of what I said to you when we were alone just

Piedro's voice failed, and some of his comrades observed that he was
young and new to the business. The captain, who, from being his
pretended friend during his wealthy days, had of late become his tyrant,
cast a stern look at Piedro, and bid him be sure to be at the old Jew's,
which was the place of meeting, in the dusk of the evening. After saying
this he departed.

Piedro, when he was alone, tried to collect his thoughts--all his
thoughts were full of horror. "Where am I?" said he to himself; "what am
I about? Did I understand rightly what he said about poniards?
Francisco; oh, Francisco! Excellent, kind, generous Francisco! Yes, I
recollect your look when you held the bunch of grapes to my lips, as I
sat by the sea-shore deserted by all the world; and now, what friends
have I. Robbers and--" The word MURDERERS he could not utter. He again
recollected what had been said about poniards, and the longer his mind
fixed upon the words, and the look that accompanied them, the more he was
shocked. He could not doubt but that it was the serious intention of his
accomplices to murder Francisco, if he should make any resistance.

Piedro had at this moment no friend in the world to whom he could apply
for advice or assistance. His wretched father died some weeks before
this time, in a fit of intoxication. Piedro walked up and down the
street, scarcely capable of thinking, much less of coming to any rational

The hours passed away, the shadows of the houses lengthened under his
footsteps, the evening came on, and when it grew dusk, after hesitating
in great agony of mind for some time, his fear of the robbers' vengeance
prevailed over every other feeling, and he went at the appointed hour to
the place of meeting.

The place of meeting was at the house of that Jew to whom he, several
months before, sold the diamond cross. That cross which he thought
himself so lucky to have stolen, and to have disposed of undetected, was,
in fact, the cause of his being in his present dreadful situation. It
was at the Jew's that he connected himself with this gang of robbers, to
whom he was now become an absolute slave.

"Oh, that I dared to disobey!" said he to himself, with a deep sigh, as
he knocked softly at the back door of the Jew's house. The back door
opened into a narrow, unfrequented street, and some small rooms at this
side of the house were set apart for the reception of guests who desired
to have their business kept secret. These rooms were separated by a dark
passage from the rest of the house, and numbers of people came to the
shop in the front of the house, which looked into a creditable street,
without knowing anything more, from the ostensible appearance of the
shop, than that it was a kind of pawnbroker's, where old clothes, old
iron, and all sorts of refuse goods, might be disposed of conveniently.

At the moment Piedro knocked at the back door, the front shop was full of
customers; and the Jew's boy, whose office it was to attend to these
signals, let Piedro in, told him that none of his comrades were yet come,
and left him in a room by himself.

He was pale and trembling, and felt a cold dew spread over him. He had a
leaden image of Saint Januarius tied round his neck, which, in the midst
of his wickedness, he superstitiously preserved as a sort of charm, and
on this he kept his eyes stupidly fixed, as he sat alone in this gloomy

He listened from time to time, but he heard no noise at the side of the
house where he was. His accomplices did not arrive, and, in a sort of
impatient terror, the attendant upon an evil conscience, he flung open
the door of his cell, and groped his way through the passage which he
knew led to the public shop. He longed to hear some noise, and to mix
with the living. The Jew, when Piedro entered the shop, was bargaining
with a poor, thin-looking man about some gunpowder.

"I don't deny that it has been wet," said the man, "but since it was in
the bucket of water, it has been carefully dried. I tell you the simple
truth, that so soon after the grand eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the
people of Naples will not relish fireworks. My poor little rockets, and
even my Catherine-wheels, will have no effect. I am glad to part with
all I have in this line of business. A few days ago I had fine things in
readiness for the Countess de Flora's birthday, which was to have been
celebrated at the count's villa."

"Why do you fix your eyes on me, friend? What is your discourse to me?"
said Piedro, who imagined that the man fixed his eyes upon him as he
mentioned the name of the count's villa.

"I did not know that I fixed my eyes upon you; I was thinking of my
fireworks," said the poor man, simply. "But now that I do look at you
and hear your voice, I recollect having had the pleasure of seeing you

"When? where?" said Piedro.

"A great while ago; no wonder you have forgotten me," said the man; "but
I can recall the night to your recollection. You were in the street with
me the night I let off that unlucky rocket, which frightened the horses,
and was the cause of overturning a lady's coach. Don't you remember the

"I have a confused recollection of some such thing," said Piedro, in
great embarrassment; and he looked suspiciously at this man, in doubt
whether he was cunning, and wanted to sound him, or whether he was so
simple as he appeared.

"You did not, perhaps, hear, then," continued the man, "that there was a
great search made, after the overturn, for a fine diamond cross,
belonging to the lady in the carriage? That lady, though I did not know
it till lately, was the Countess de Flora."

"I know nothing of the matter," interrupted Piedro, in great agitation.
His confusion was so marked, that the firework-maker could not avoid
taking notice of it; and a silence of some moments ensued. The Jew, more
practised in dissimulation than Piedro, endeavoured to turn the man's
attention back to his rockets and his gunpowder--agreed to take the
gunpowder--paid for it in haste, and was, though apparently unconcerned,
eager to get rid of him. But this was not so easily done. The man's
curiosity was excited, and his suspicions of Piedro were increased every
moment by all the dark changes of his countenance. Piedro, overpowered
with the sense of guilt, surprised at the unexpected mention of the
diamond cross, and of the Count de Flora's villa, stood like one
convicted, and seemed fixed to the spot, without power of motion.

"I want to look at the old cambric that you said you had--that would do
for making--that you could let me have cheap for artificial flowers,"
said the firework-maker to the Jew; and as he spoke, his eye from time to
time looked towards Piedro.

Piedro felt for the leaden image of the saint, which he wore round his
neck. The string which held it cracked, and broke with the pull he gave
it. This slight circumstance affected his terrified and superstitious
mind more than all the rest. He imagined that at this moment his fate
was decided; that Saint Januarius deserted him, and that he was undone.
He precipitately followed the firework-man the instant he left the shop,
and seizing hold of his arm, whispered, "I must speak to you."

"Speak, then," said the man, astonished.

"Not here; this way," said he, drawing him towards the dark passage:
"what I have to say must not be overheard. You are going to the Count de
Flora's, are not you?"

"I am," said the man. He was going there to speak to the countess about
some artificial flowers; but Piedro thought he was going to speak to her
about the diamond cross.

"You are going to give information against me? Nay, hear me, I confess
that I purloined that diamond cross; but I can do the count a great
service, upon condition that he pardons me. His villa is to be attacked
this night by four well armed men. They will set out five hours hence.
I am compelled, under the threat of assassination, to accompany them; but
I shall do no more. I throw myself upon the count's mercy. Hasten to
him--we have no time to lose."

The poor man, who heard this confession, escaped from Piedro the moment
he loosed his arm. With all possible expedition he ran to the count's
palace in Naples, and related to him all that had been said by Piedro.
Some of the count's servants, on whom he could most depend, were at a
distant part of the city attending their mistress, but the English
gentleman offered the services of his man Arthur. Arthur no sooner heard
the business, and understood that Francisco was in danger, than he armed
himself without saying one word, saddled his English horse, and was ready
to depart before anyone else had finished their exclamations and

"But we are not to set out yet," said the servant; "it is but four miles
to Torre del Greco; the sbirri (officers of justice) are summoned--they
are to go with us--we must wait for them."

They waited, much against Arthur's inclination, a considerable time for
these sbirri. At length they set out, and just as they reached the
villa, the flash of the pistol was seen from one of the apartments in the
house. The robbers were there. This pistol was snapped by their captain
at poor Francisco, who had bravely asserted that he would, as long as he
had life, defend the property committed to his care. The pistol missed
fire, for it was charged with some of the damaged powder which the Jew
had bought that evening from the firework maker, and which he had sold as
excellent immediately afterwards to his favourite customers--the robbers
who met at his house.

Arthur, as soon as he perceived the flash of the piece, pressed forward
through all the apartments, followed by the count's servants and the
officers of justice. At the sudden appearance of so many armed men, the
robbers stood dismayed. Arthur eagerly shook Francisco's hand,
congratulating him upon his safety, and did not perceive, till he had
given him several rough friendly shakes, that his arm was wounded, and
that he was pale with the loss of blood.

"It is not much--only a slight wound," said Francisco; "one that I should
have escaped, if I had been upon my guard; but the sight of a face that I
little expected to see in such company took from me all presence of mind;
and one of the ruffians stabbed me here in the arm, whilst I stood in
stupid astonishment."

"Oh! take me to prison! take me to prison--I am weary of life--I am a
wretch not fit to live!" cried Piedro, holding his hands to be tied by
the sbirri.

The next morning Piedro was conveyed to prison; and as he passed through
the streets of Naples he was met by several of those who had known him
when he was a child. "Ay," said they, as he went by, "his father
encouraged him in cheating when he was BUT A CHILD; and see what he is
come to, now he is a man!" He was ordered to remain twelve months in
solitary confinement. His captain and his accomplices were sent to the
galleys, and the Jew was banished from Naples.

And now, having got these villains out of the way, let us return to
honest Francisco. His wound was soon healed. Arthur was no bad surgeon,
for he let his patient get well as fast as he pleased; and Carlo and
Rosetta nursed him with so much kindness, that he was almost sorry to
find himself perfectly recovered.

"Now that you are able to go out," said Francisco's father to him, "you
must come and look at my new house, my dear son."

"Your new house, father?"

"Yes, son, and a charming one it is, and a handsome piece of land near
it--all at a safe distance, too, from Mount Vesuvius; and can you guess
how I came by it?--it was given to me for having a good son."

"Yes," cried Carlo; "the inhabitants of Resina, and several who had
property near Terre del Greco, and whose houses and lives were saved by
your intrepidity in carrying the materials for the fireworks and the
gunpowder out of this dangerous place, went in a body to the duke, and
requested that he would mention your name and these facts to the king,
who, amongst the grants he has made to the sufferers by the late eruption
of Mount Vesuvius, has been pleased to say that he gives this house and
garden to your father, because you have saved the property and lives of
many of his subjects."

The value of a handsome portion of furniture, plate, etc., in the Count
de Flora's villa, was, according to the count's promise, given to him;
and this money he divided between his own family and that of the good
carpenter who first put a pencil into his hands. Arthur would not accept
of any present from him. To Mr. Lee, the English gentleman, he offered
one of his own drawings--a fruit-piece.

"I like this very well," said Arthur, as he examined the drawing, "but I
should like this melon better if it was a little bruised. It is now
three years ago since I was going to buy that bruised melon from you; you
showed me your honest nature then, though you were but a boy; and I have
found you the same ever since. A good beginning makes a good ending--an
honest boy will make an honest man; and honesty is the best policy, as
you have proved to all who wanted the proof, I hope."

"Yes," added Francisco's father, "I think it is pretty plain that Piedro
the Cunning has not managed quite so well as Francisco the Honest."


Delightful task! to rear the tender thought,--
To teach the young idea how to shoot,--
To pour the fresh instruction o'er the mind,--
To breathe th' enlivening spirit,--and to fix
The generous purpose in the glowing breast.

Young Hardy was educated by Mr. Freeman, a very excellent master, at one
of our rural Sunday schools. He was honest, obedient, active and good-
natured, hence he was esteemed by his master; and being beloved by all
his companions who were good, he did not desire to be loved by the bad;
nor was he at all vexed or ashamed when idle, mischievous or dishonest
boys attempted to plague or ridicule him. His friend Loveit, on the
contrary, wished to be universally liked, and his highest ambition was to
be thought the best natured boy in the school--and so he was. He usually
went by the name of POOR LOVEIT, and everybody pitied him when he got
into disgrace, which he frequently did, for though he had a good
disposition, he was led to do things which he knew to be wrong merely
because he could never have the courage to say "NO," because he was
afraid to offend the ill-natured, and could not bear to be laughed at by

One fine autumn evening, all the boys were permitted to go out to play in
a pleasant green meadow near the school. Loveit and another boy, called
Tarlton, began to play a game of battledore and shuttlecock, and a large
party stood by to look on, for they were the best players at battledore
and shuttlecock in the school, and this was a trial of skill between
them. When they had got it up to three hundred and twenty, the game
became very interesting. The arms of the combatants tired that they
could scarcely wield the battledores. The shuttlecock began to waver in
the air; now it almost touched the ground, and now, to the astonishment
of the spectators, mounted again high over their heads: yet the strokes
became feebler and feebler; and "Now, Loveit!" "Now, Tarlton!" resounded
on all sides. For another minute the victory was doubtful; but at length
the setting sun, shining full in Loveit's face, so dazzled his eyes that
he could no longer see the shuttlecock, and it fell at his feet.

After the first shout for Tarlton's triumph was over, everybody
exclaimed, "Poor Loveit! he's the best natured fellow in the world! What
a pity that he did not stand with his back to the sun!"

"Now, I dare you all to play another game with me," cried Tarlton,
vauntingly; and as he spoke, he tossed the shuttlecock up with all his
force--with so much force that it went over the hedge and dropped into a
lane, which went close beside the field. "Hey-day!" said Tarlton, "what
shall we do now?"

The boys were strictly forbidden to go into the lane; and it was upon
their promise not to break this command, that they were allowed to play
in the adjoining field.

No other shuttlecock was to be had and their play was stopped. They
stood on the top of the bank, peeping over the hedge. "I see it yonder,"
said Tarlton; "I wish somebody would get it. One could get over the gate
at the bottom of the field, and be back again in half a minute," added
he, looking at Loveit. "But you know we must not go into the lane," said
Loveit, hesitatingly. "Pugh!" said Tarlton, "why, now, what harm could
it do?"

"I don't know," said Loveit, drumming upon his battledore; "but--"

"You don't know, man! why, then, what are you afraid of, I ask you?"
Loveit coloured, went on drumming, and again, in a lower voice, said "HE
DIDN'T KNOW." But upon Tarlton's repeating, in a more insolent tone, "I
ask you, man, what you're afraid of?" he suddenly left off drumming, and
looking round, said, "he was not afraid of anything that he knew of."

"Yes, but you are," said Hardy, coming forward.

"Am I?" said Loveit; "of what, pray, am I afraid?"

"Of doing wrong!"

"Afraid OF DOING WRONG!" repeated Tarlton, mimicking him, so that he made
everybody laugh. "Now, hadn't you better say afraid of being flogged?"

"No," said Hardy, coolly, after the laugh had somewhat subsided, "I am as
little afraid of being flogged as you are, Tarlton; but I meant--"

"No matter what you meant; why should you interfere with your wisdom and
your meanings; nobody thought of asking YOU to stir a step for us; but we
asked Loveit, because he's the best fellow in the world."

"And for that very reason you should not ask him, because, you know he
can't refuse you anything."

"Indeed, though," cried Loveit, piqued, "THERE you're mistaken, for I
could refuse if I chose it."

Hardy smiled; and Loveit, half afraid of his contempt, and half afraid of
Tarlton's ridicule, stood doubtful, and again had recourse to his
battledore, which he balanced most curiously upon his forefinger. "Look
at him!--now do look at him!" cried Tarlton; "did you ever in your life
see anybody look so silly?--Hardy has him quite under his thumb; he's so
mortally afraid of Parson Prig, that he dare not, for the soul of him,
turn either of his eyes from the tip of his nose; look how he squints!"

"I don't squint," said Loveit, looking up, "and nobody has me under his
thumb! and what Hardy said was only for fear I should get in disgrace;
he's the best friend I have."

Loveit spoke this with more than usual spirit, for both his heart and his
pride were touched.

"Come along, then," said Hardy, taking him by the arm in an affectionate
manner; and he was just going, when Tarlton called after him, "Ay, go
along with its best friend, and take care it does not get into a scrape;-
-good-bye, Little Panado!"

"Whom do they call Little Panado?" said Loveit, turning his head hastily

"Never mind," said Hardy, "what does it signify?"

"No," said Loveit, "to be sure it does not signify; but one does not like
to be called Little Panado: besides," added he, after going a few steps
farther, "they'll all think it so ill-natured. I had better go back, and
just tell them that I'm very sorry I can't get their shuttlecock; do come
back with me."

"No," said Hardy, "I can't go back; and you'd better not."

"But, I assure you, I won't stay a minute; wait for me," added Loveit;
and he slunk back again to prove that he was not Little Panado.

Once returned, the rest followed, of course; for to support his character
of good-nature he was obliged to yield to the entreaties of his
companions, and to show his spirit, leapt over the gate, amidst the
acclamations of the little mob:--he was quickly out of sight.

"Here," cried he, returning in about five minutes, quite out of breath,
"I've got the shuttlecock; and I'll tell you what I've seen," cried he,
panting for breath.

"What?" cried everybody, eagerly.

"Why, just at the turn of the corner, at the end of the lane"--panting.

"Well," said Tarlton, impatiently, "do go on."

"Let me just take breath first."

"Pugh--never mind your breath."

"Well, then, just at the turn of the corner, at the end of the lane, as I
was looking about for the shuttlecock, I heard a great rustling somewhere
near me, and so I looked where it could come from; and I saw, in a nice
little garden, on the opposite side of the way, a boy, about as big as
Tarlton, sitting in a great tree, shaking the branches: so I called to
the boy, to beg one; but he said he could not give me one, for that they
were his grandfather's; and just at that minute, from behind a gooseberry
bush, up popped the uncle; the grandfather poked his head out of the
window; so I ran off as fast as my legs would carry me though I heard him
bawling after me all the way."

"And let him bawl," cried Tarlton; "he shan't bawl for nothing; I'm
determined we'll have some of his fine large rosy apples before I sleep

At this speech a general silence ensued; everybody kept their eyes fixed
upon Tarlton, except Loveit, who looked down, apprehensive that he should
be drawn on much farther than he intended. "Oh, indeed!" said he to
himself, "as Hardy told me, I had better not have come back!"

Regardless of this confusion, Tarlton continued, "But before I say any
more, I hope we have no spies amongst us. If there is any one of you
afraid to be flogged, let him march off this instant!"

Loveit coloured, bit his lips, wished to go, but had not the courage to
move first. He waited to see what everybody else would do: nobody
stirred; so Loveit stood still.

"Well, then," cried Tarlton, giving his hand to the boy next him, then to
the next, "your word and honour that you won't betray me; but stand by
me, and I'll stand by you." Each boy gave his hand and his promise;
repeating, "Stand by me, and I'll stand by you."

Loveit hung back till the last; and had almost twisted off the button of
the boy's coat who screened him, when Tarlton came up, holding out his
hand, "Come, Loveit, lad, you're in for it: stand by me, and I'll stand
by you."

"Indeed, Tarlton," expostulated he, without looking him in the face, "I
do wish you'd give up this scheme; I daresay all the apples are gone by
this time; I wish you would. Do, pray, give up this scheme."

"What scheme, man? you have'n't heard it yet; you may as well know your
text before you begin preaching."

The corners of Loveit's mouth could not refuse to smile, though in his
heart he felt not the slightest inclination to laugh.

"Why, I don't know you, I declare I don't know you to-day," said Tarlton;
"you used to be the best natured most agreeable lad in the world, and
would do anything one asked you; but you're quite altered of late, as we
were saying just now, when you skulked away with Hardy: come,--do, man,
pluck up a little spirit, and be one of us, or you'll make us all HATE

"HATE me!" repeated Loveit, with terror; "no, surely, you won't all HATE
me!" and he mechanically stretched out his hand which Tarlton shook
violently, saying, "Ay, now, that's right."

"Ay, now, that's wrong!" whispered Loveit's conscience; but his
conscience was of no use to him, for it was always overpowered by the
voice of numbers; and though he had the wish, he never had the power, to
do right. "Poor Loveit! I knew he would not refuse us," cried his
companions; and even Tarlton, the moment he shook hands with him,
despised him. It is certain that weakness of mind is despised both by
the good and the bad.

The league being thus formed, Tarlton assumed all the airs of commander,
explained his schemes, and laid the plan of attack upon the poor old
man's apple-tree. It was the only one he had the world. We shall not
dwell upon their consultation; for the amusement of contriving such
expeditions is often the chief thing which induces idle boys to engage in

There was a small window at the end of the back staircase, through which,
between nine and ten o'clock at night, Tarlton, accompanied by Loveit and
another boy, crept out. It was a moonlight night, and after crossing the
field, and climbing the gate, directed by Loveit, who now resolved to go
through the affair with spirit, they proceeded down the lane with rash
yet fearful steps.

At a distance Loveit saw the white washed cottage, and the apple-tree
beside it. They quickened their pace, and with some difficulty scrambled
through the hedge which fenced the garden, though not without being
scratched and torn by the briers. Everything was silent. Yet now and
then, at every rustling of the leaves, they started, and their hearts
beat violently. Once, as Loveit was climbing the apple-tree, he thought
he heard a door in the cottage open, and earnestly begged his companions
to desist and return home. This, however, he could by no means persuade
them to do, until they had filled their pockets with apples; then, to his
great joy, they returned, crept in at the window and each retired, as
softly as possible, to his own apartment.

Loveit slept in the room with Hardy, whom he had left fast asleep, and
whom he now was extremely afraid of awakening. All the apples were
emptied out of Loveit's pockets, and lodged with Tarlton till the
morning, for fear the smell should betray the secret to Hardy. The room
door was apt to creak, but it was opened with such precaution, that no
noise could be heard, and Loveit found his friend as fast asleep as when
he left him.

"Ah," said he to himself, "how quietly he sleeps! I wish I had been
sleeping too." The reproaches of Loveit's conscience, however, served no
other purpose but to torment him; he had not sufficient strength of mind
to be good. The very next night, in spite of all his fears, and all his
penitence, and all his resolutions, by a little fresh ridicule and
persuasion he was induced to accompany the same party on a similar
expedition. We must observe, that the necessity for continuing their
depredations became stronger the third day; for, though at first only a
small party had been in the secret, by degrees it was divulged to the
whole school; and it was necessary to secure secrecy by sharing the

Everyone was astonished that Hardy, with all his quickness and
penetration, had not yet discovered their proceedings; but Loveit could
not help suspecting that he was not quite so ignorant as he appeared to
be. Loveit had strictly kept his promise of secrecy; but he was by no
means an artful boy; and in talking to his friend, conscious that he had
something to conceal, he was perpetually on the point of betraying
himself; then recollecting his engagement, he blushed, stammered,
bungled; and upon Hardy's asking what he meant, would answer with a
silly, guilty countenance, that he did not know; or abruptly break off,
saying, "Oh nothing! nothing at all!"

It was in vain that he urged Tarlton to permit him to consult his friend.
A gloom overspread Tarlton's brow when he began to speak on the subject,
and he always returned a peremptory refusal, accompanied with some such
taunting expression as this--"I wish we had nothing to do with such a
sneaking fellow; he'll betray us all, I see, before we have done with

"Well," said Loveit to himself, "so I am abused after all, and called a
sneaking fellow for my pains; that's rather hard, to be sure, when I've
got so little by the job."

In truth he had not got much; for in the division of the booty only one
apple, and half of another, which was only half ripe, happened to fall to
his share; though, to be sure, when they had all eaten their apples, he
had the satisfaction to hear everybody declare they were very sorry they
had forgotten to offer some of theirs to "POOR LOVEIT."

In the meantime, the visits to the apple-tree had been now too frequently
repeated to remain concealed from the old man who lived in the cottage.
He used to examine his only tree very frequently, and missing numbers of
rosy apples, which he had watched ripening, he, though not prone to
suspicion, began to think that there was something going wrong;
especially as a gap was made in his hedge, and there were several small
footsteps in his flower beds.

The good old man was not at all inclined to give pain to any living
creature, much less to children, of whom he was particularly fond. Nor
was he in the least avaricious, for though he was not rich, he had enough
to live upon, because he had been very industrious in his youth; and he
was always very ready to part with the little he had. Nor was he a cross
old man. If anything would have made him angry, it would have been the
seeing his favourite tree robbed, as he had promised himself the pleasure
of giving his red apples to his grandchildren on his birthday. However,
he looked up at the tree in sorrow rather than in anger, and leaning upon
his staff, he began to consider what he had best do.

"If I complain to their master," said he to himself, "they will certainly
be flogged, and that I should be sorry for: yet they must not be let to
go on stealing; that would be worse still, for it would surely bring them
to the gallows in the end. Let me see--oh, ay, that will do; I will
borrow farmer Kent's dog Barker, he'll keep them off, I'll answer for

Farmer Kent lent his dog Barker, cautioning his neighbour, at the same
time, to be sure to chain him well, for he was the fiercest mastiff in
England. The old man, with farmer Kent's assistance, chained him fast to
the trunk of the apple-tree.

Night came; and Tarlton, Loveit and his companions, returned at the usual
hour. Grown bolder now by frequent success, they came on talking and
laughing. But the moment they had set their foot in the garden, the dog
started up; and, shaking the chain as he sprang forward, barked with
unremitting fury. They stood still as if fixed to the spot. There was
just moonlight enough to see the dog. "Let us try the other side of the
tree," said Tarlton. But to whichever side they turned, the dog flew
round in an instant, barking with increased fury.

"He'll break his chain and tear us to pieces," cried Tarlton; and, struck
with terror, he immediately threw down the basket he had brought with
him, and betook himself to flight, with the greatest precipitation.
"Help me! oh, pray, help me! I can't get through the hedge," cried
Loveit, in a lamentable tone, whilst the dog growled hideously, and
sprang forward to the extremity of his chain. "I can't get out! Oh, for
God's sake, stay for me one minute, dear Tarlton!" He called in vain; he
was left to struggle through his difficulties by himself; and of all his
dear friends not one turned back to help him. At last, torn and
terrified, he got through the hedge and ran home, despising his
companions for their selfishness. Nor could he help observing that
Tarlton, with all his vaunted prowess, was the first to run away from the
appearance of danger.

The next morning Loveit could not help reproaching the party with their
conduct. "Why could not you, any of you, stay one minute to help me?"
said he.

"We did not hear you call," answered one.

"I was so frightened," said another, "I would not have turned back for
the whole world."

"And you, Tarlton?"

"I," said Tarlton; "had not I enough to do to take care of myself, you
blockhead? Everyone for himself in this world!"

"So I see," said Loveit, gravely.

"Well, man! is there anything strange in that?"

"Strange! why, yes; I thought you all loved me!"

"Lord love you, lad! so we do; but we love ourselves better."

"Hardy would not have served me so, however," said Loveit, turning away
in disgust. Tarlton was alarmed. "Pugh!" said he; "what nonsense have
you taken into your brain! Think no more about it. We are all very
sorry, and beg your pardon; come, shake hands, forgive and forget."

Loveit gave his hand, but gave it rather coldly. "I forgive it with all
my heart," said he; "but I cannot forget it so soon!"

"Why, then, you are not such a good humoured fellow as we thought you
were. Surely you cannot bear malice, Loveit." Loveit smiled, and
allowed that he certainly could not bear malice. "Well, then, come; you
know at the bottom we all love you, and would do anything in the world
for you." Poor Loveit, flattered in his foible, began to believe that
they did love him at the bottom, as they said, and even with his eyes
open consented again to be duped.

"How strange it is," thought he, "that I should set such value upon the
love of those I despise! When I'm once out of this scrape, I'll have no
more to do with them, I'm determined."

Compared with his friend Hardy, his new associates did indeed appear
contemptible; for all this time Hardy had treated him with uniform
kindness, avoided to pry into his secrets, yet seemed ready to receive
his confidence, if it had been offered.

After school in the evening, as he was standing silently beside Hardy,
who was ruling a sheet of paper for him, Tarlton, in his brutal manner,
came up, and seizing him by the arm, cried, "Come along with me, Loveit,
I've something to say to you."

"I can't come now," said Loveit, drawing away his arm.

"Ah, do come now," said Tarlton, in a voice of persuasion.

"Well, I'll come presently."

"Nay, but do, pray; there's a good fellow, come now, because I have
something to say to you."

"What is it you've got to say to me? I wish you'd let me alone," said
Loveit; yet at the same time he suffered himself to he led away.

Tarlton took particular pains to humour him and bring him into temper
again; and even though he was not very apt to part with his playthings,
went so far as to say, "Loveit, the other day you wanted a top; I'll give
you mine if you desire it."

Loveit thanked him, and was overjoyed at the thought of possessing this
top. "But what did you want to say to me just now?"

"Ay, we'll talk of that presently; not yet--when we get out of hearing."

"Nobody is near us," said Loveit.

"Come a little farther however," said Tarlton, looking round

"Well now, well?"

"You know the dog that frightened us last night?"


"It will never frighten us again."

"Won't it? how so?"

"Look here," said Tarlton, drawing something from his pocket wrapped in a
blue handkerchief.

"What's that?" Tarlton opened it. "Raw meat!" exclaimed Loveit. "How
came you by it?"

"Tom, the servant boy, Tom got it for me; and I'm to give him sixpence."

"And is it for the dog?"

"Yes; I vowed I'd be revenged on him, and after this he'll never bark

"Never bark again! What do you mean? Is it poison?" exclaimed Loveit,
starting back with horror.

"Only poison for A DOG," said Tarlton, confused; "you could not look more
shocking if it was poison for a Christian."

Loveit stood for nearly a minute in profound silence. "Tarlton," said he
at last, in a changed tone and altered manner, "I did not know you; I
will have no more to do with you."

"Nay, but stay," said Tarlton, catching hold of his arm, "stay; I was
only joking."

"Let go my arm--you were in earnest."

"But then that was before I knew there was any harm. If you think
there's any harm?"

"IF," said Loveit.

"Why, you know, I might not know; for Tom told me it's a thing that's
often done. Ask Tom."

"I'll ask nobody! Surely we know better what's right and wrong than Tom

"But only just ask him, to hear what he'll say."

"I don't want to hear what he'll say," cried Loveit, vehemently: "the
dog will die in agonies--in agonies! There was a dog poisoned at my
father's--I saw him in the yard. Poor creature! He lay and howled and
writhed himself!"

"Poor creature! Well, there's no harm done now," cried Tarlton, in a
hypocritical tone. But though he thought fit to dissemble with Loveit,
he was thoroughly determined in his purpose.

Poor Loveit, in haste to get away, returned to his friend Hardy; but his
mind was in such agitation, that he neither talked nor moved like
himself; and two or three times his heart was so full that he was ready
to burst into tears.

"How good-natured you are to me," said he to Hardy, as he was trying
vainly to entertain him; "but if you knew--" Here he stopped short, for
the bell for evening prayer rang, and they all took their places, and
knelt down. After prayers, as they were going to bed, Loveit stopped
Tarlton,--"WELL!" asked he, in an inquiring manner, fixing his eyes upon

"WELL!" replied Tarlton, in an audacious tone, as if he meant to set his
inquiring eye at defiance.

"What do you mean to do to-night?"

"To go to sleep, as you do, I suppose," replied Tarlton, turning away
abruptly, and whistling as he walked off.

"Oh, he has certainly changed his mind!" said Loveit to himself, "else he
could not whistle."

About ten minutes after this, as he and Hardy were undressing, Hardy
suddenly recollected that he had left his new kite out upon the grass.
"Oh," said he, "it will be quite spoiled before morning!"

"Call Tom," said Loveit, "and bid him bring it in for you in a minute."
They both went to the top of the stairs to call Tom; no one answered.
They called again louder, "Is Tom below?"

"I'm here," answered he at last, coming out of Tarlton's room with a look
of mixed embarrassment and effrontery. And as he was receiving Hardy's
commission, Loveit saw the corner of the blue handkerchief hanging out of
his pocket. This excited fresh suspicions in Loveit's mind; but, without
saying one word, he immediately stationed himself at the window in his
room, which looked out towards the lane; and, as the moon was risen, he
could see if anyone passed that way.

"What are you doing there?" said Hardy, after he had been watching some
time; "why don't you come to bed?" Loveit returned no answer, but
continued standing at the window. Nor did he watch long in vain.
Presently he saw Tom gliding slowly along a by-path, and get over the
gate into the lane.

"He's gone to do it!" exclaimed Loveit aloud, with an emotion which he
could not command.

"Who's gone? to do what?" cried Hardy, starting up.

"How cruel! how wicked!" continued Loveit.

"What's cruel--what's wicked? speak out at once!" returned Hardy, in that
commanding tone which, in moments of danger, strong minds feel themselves
entitled to assume towards weak ones. Loveit instantly, though in an
incoherent manner, explained the affair to him. Scarcely had the words
passed his lips, when Hardy sprang up, and began dressing himself without
saying one syllable.

"For God's sake, what are you going to do?" said Loveit, in great
anxiety. "They'll never forgive me! don't betray me! they'll never
forgive! pray, speak to me! only say you won't betray us."

"I will not betray you, trust to me," said Hardy: and he left the room,
and Loveit stood in amazement; while, in the meantime, Hardy, in hopes of
overtaking Tom before the fate of the poor dog was decided, ran with all
possible speed across the meadow, then down the lane. He came up with
Tom just as he was climbing the bank into the old man's garden. Hardy,
too much out of breath to speak, seized hold of him, dragged him down,
detaining him with a firm grasp, whilst he panted for utterance.

"What, Master Hardy, is it you? what's the matter? what do you want?"

"I want the poisoned meat that you have in your pocket."

"Who told you that I had any such thing?" said Tom, clapping his hand
upon his guilty pocket.

"Give it me quietly, and I'll let you off."

"Sir, upon my word I haven't! I didn't! I don't know what you mean,"
said Tom, trembling, though he was by far the stronger of the two.
"Indeed, I don't know what you mean."

"You do," said Hardy, with great indignation: and a violent struggle
immediately commenced.

The dog, now alarmed by the voices, began to bark outrageously. Tom was
terrified lest the old man should come out to see what was the matter;
his strength forsook him, and flinging the handkerchief and meat over the
hedge, he ran away with all his speed. The handkerchief fell within
reach of the dog, who instantly snapped at it; luckily it did not come
untied. Hardy saw a pitchfork on a dunghill close beside him, and,
seizing upon it, stuck it into the handkerchief. The dog pulled, tore,
growled, grappled, yelled; it was impossible to get the handkerchief from
between his teeth; but the knot was loosed, the meat, unperceived by the
dog, dropped out, and while he dragged off the handkerchief in triumph,
Hardy, with inexpressible joy, plunged the pitchfork into the poisoned
meat, and bore it away.

Never did hero retire with more satisfaction from a field of battle.
Full of the pleasure of successful benevolence, Hardy tripped joyfully
home, and vaulted over the window sill, when the first object he beheld
was Mr. Power, the usher, standing at the head of the stairs, with his
candle in his hand.

"Come up, whoever you are," said Mr. William Power, in a stern voice. "I
thought I should find you out at last. Come up, whoever you are!" Hardy
obeyed without reply.--"Hardy!" exclaimed Mr. Power, starting back with
astonishment; "is it you, Mr. Hardy?" repeated he, holding the light to
his face. "Why, sir," said he, in a sneering tone, "I'm sure if Mr.
Trueman was here he wouldn't believe his own eyes; but for my part I saw
through you long since; I never liked saints, for my share. Will you
please to do me the favour, sir, if it is not too much trouble, to empty
your pockets." Hardy obeyed in silence. "Heyday! meat! raw meat! what

"That's all," said Hardy, emptying his pockets inside out.

"This is ALL," said Mr. Power, taking up the meat.

"Pray, sir," said Hardy, eagerly, "let that meat be burned, it is

"Poisoned!" cried Mr. William Power, letting it drop out of his fingers;
"you wretch!" looking at him with a menacing air: "what is all this?
Speak." Hardy was silent. "Why don't you speak?" cried he, shaking him
by the shoulder impatiently. Still Hardy was silent. "Down upon your
knees this minute and confess all: tell me where you've been, what
you've been doing, and who are your accomplices, for I know there is a
gang of you; so," added he, pressing heavily upon Hardy's shoulder, "down
upon your knees this minute, and confess the whole, that's your only way
now to get off yourself. If you hope for MY pardon, I can tell you it's
not to be had without asking for."

"Sir," said Hardy, in a firm but respectful voice, "I have no pardon to
ask, I have nothing to confess; I am innocent; but if I were not, I would
never try to get off myself by betraying my companions."

"Very well, sir! very well! very fine! stick to it, stick to it, I advise
you, and we shall see. And how will you look to-morrow, Mr. Innocent,
when my uncle, the doctor, comes home?"

"As I do now, sir," said Hardy, unmoved.

His composure threw Mr. Power into a rage too great for utterance.
"Sir," continued Hardy, "ever since I have been at school, I never told a
lie, and therefore, sir, I hope you will believe me now. Upon my word
and honour, sir, I have done nothing wrong."

"Nothing wrong? Better and better! what, when I caught you going out at

"THAT, to be sure, was wrong," said Hardy, recollecting himself; "but
except that--"

"Except that, sir! I will except nothing. Come along with me, young
gentleman, your time for pardon is past."

Saying these words, he pulled Hardy along a narrow passage to a small
closet, set apart for desperate offenders, and usually known by the name
of the BLACK HOLE. "There, sir, take up your lodging there for to-
night," said he, pushing him in; "tomorrow I'll know more, or I'll know
why," added he, double locking the door, with a tremendous noise, upon
his prisoner, and locking also the door at the end of the passage, so
that no one could have access to him. "So now I think I have you safe!"
said Mr. William Power to himself, stalking off with steps which made the
whole gallery resound, and which made many a guilty heart tremble.

The conversation which had passed between Hardy and Mr. Power at the head
of the stairs had been anxiously listened to; but only a word or two here
and there had been distinctly overheard.

The locking of the black hole door was a terrible sound--some knew not
what it portended, and others knew TOO WELL. All assembled in the
morning with faces of anxiety. Tarlton and Loveit's were the most
agitated: Tarlton for himself, Loveit for his friend, for himself, for
everybody. Every one of the party, and Tarlton at their head, surrounded
him with reproaches; and considered him as the author of the evils which
hung over them. "How could you do so? and why did you say anything to
Hardy about it? when you had promised, too! Oh! what shall we all do?
what a scrape you have brought us into, Loveit, it's all your fault!"

"ALL MY FAULT!" repeated poor Loveit, with a sigh; "well, that is hard."

"Goodness! there's the bell," exclaimed a number of voices at once. "Now
for it!" They all stood in a half circle for morning prayers. They
listened--"Here he is coming! No--Yes--Here he is!" And Mr. William
Power, with a gloomy brow, appeared and walked up to his place at the
head of the room. They knelt down to prayers, and the moment they rose,
Mr. William Power, laying his hand upon the table, cried, "Stand still,
gentlemen, if you please." Everybody stood stock still; he walked out of
the circle; they guessed that he was gone for Hardy, and the whole room
was in commotion. Each with eagerness asked each what none could answer,
"HAS HE TOLD?" "WHAT has he told?" "Who has he told of?" "I hope he
has not told of me," cried they.

"I'll answer for it he has told of all of us," said Tarlton.

"And I'll answer for it he has told of none of us," answered Loveit, with
a sigh.

"You don't think he's such a fool, when he can get himself off," said

At this instant the prisoner was led in, and as he passed through the
circle, every eye was fixed upon him. His eye fell upon no one, not even
upon Loveit, who pulled him by the coat as he passed--everyone felt
almost afraid to breathe.

"Well, sir," said Mr. Power, sitting down in Mr. Trueman's elbow-chair,
and placing the prisoner opposite to him; "well, sir, what have you to
say to me this morning?"

"Nothing, sir," answered Hardy, in a decided, yet modest manner; "nothing
but what I said last night."

"Nothing more?"

"Nothing more, sir."

"But I have something more to say to you, sir, then; and a great deal
more, I promise you, before I have done with you;" and then, seizing him
in a fury, he was just going to give him a severe flogging, when the
schoolroom door opened, and Mr. Trueman appeared, followed by an old man
whom Loveit immediately knew. He leaned upon his stick as he walked, and
in his other hand carried a basket of apples. When they came within the
circle, Mr. Trueman stopped short. "Hardy!" exclaimed he, with a voice
of unfeigned surprise, whilst Mr. William Power stood with his hand
suspended.--"Ay, Hardy, sir," repeated he. "I told him you'd not believe
your own eyes."

Mr. Trueman advanced with a slow step. "Now, sir, give me leave," said
the usher, eagerly drawing him aside, and whispering.

"So, sir," said Mr. T. when the whisper was done, addressing himself to
Hardy, with a voice and manner which, had he been guilty, must have
pierced him to the heart, "I find I have been deceived in you; it is but
three hours ago that I told your uncle I never had a boy in my school in
whom I placed so much confidence; but, after all this show of honour and
integrity, the moment my back is turned, you are the first to set an
example of disobedience of my orders. Why do I talk of disobeying my
commands--you are a thief!"

"I, sir?" exclaimed Hardy, no longer able to repress his feelings.

"You, sir,--you and some others," said Mr. Trueman, looking round the
room with a penetrating glance--"you and some others."

"Ay, sir," interrupted Mr. William Power, "get that out of him if you
can--ask him."

"I will ask him nothing; I shall neither put his truth nor his honour to
the trial; truth and honour are not to be expected amongst thieves."

"I am not a thief! I have never had anything to do with thieves," cried
Hardy, indignantly.

"Have you not robbed this old man? Don't you know the taste of these
apples?" said Mr. Trueman, taking one out of the basket.

"No, sir; I do not. I never touched one of that old man's apples."

"Never touched one of them! I suppose this is some vile equivocation;
you have done worse, you have had the barbarity, the baseness, to attempt
to poison his dog; the poisoned meat was found in your pocket last

"The poisoned meat was found in my pocket, sir; but I never intended to
poison the dog--I saved his life."

"Lord bless him!" said the old man.

"Nonsense--cunning!" said Mr. Power. "I hope you won't let him impose
upon you, sir."

"No, he cannot impose upon me; I have a proof he is little prepared for,"
said Mr. Trueman, producing the blue handkerchief in which the meat had
been wrapped.

Tarlton turned pale; Hardy's countenance never changed.

"Don't you know this handkerchief, sir?"

"I do, sir."

"Is it not yours?"

"No, sir."

"Don't you know whose it is?" cried Mr. Power. Hardy was silent.

"Now, gentlemen," said Mr. Trueman, "I am not fond of punishing you; but
when I do it, you know, it is always in earnest. I will begin with the
eldest of you; I will begin with Hardy, and flog you with my own hands
till this handkerchief is owned."

"I'm sure it's not mine," and "I'm sure it's none of mine," burst from
every mouth, whilst they looked at each other in dismay; for none but
Hardy, Loveit and Tarlton knew the secret. "My cane," said Mr. Trueman,
and Mr. Power handed him the cane. Loveit groaned from the bottom of his
heart. Tarlton leaned back against the wall with a black countenance.
Hardy looked with a steady eye at the cane.

"But first," said Mr. Trueman, laying down the cane, "let us see.
Perhaps we may find out the owner of this handkerchief another way,"
examining the corners. It was torn almost to pieces; but luckily the
corner that was marked remained.

"J. T.!" cried Mr. Trueman. Every eye turned upon the guilty Tarlton,
who, now as pale as ashes and trembling in every limb, sank down upon his
knees, and in a whining voice begged for mercy. "Upon my word and
honour, sir, I'll tell you all; I'd never have thought of stealing the
apples if Loveit had not first told me of them; and it was Tom who first
put the poisoning the dog into my head. It was he that carried the meat,
WASN'T IT?" said he, appealing to Hardy, whose word he knew must be
believed. "Oh, dear sir!" continued he as Mr. Trueman began to move
towards him, "do let me off; pray do let me off this time! I'm not the
only one, indeed, sir! I hope you won't make me an example for the rest.
It's very hard I'm to be flogged more than they!"

"I'm not going to flog you."

"Thank you, sir," said Tarlton, getting up and wiping his eyes.

"You need not thank me," said Mr. Trueman. "Take your handkerchief--go
out of this room--out of this house; let me never see you more."

"If I had any hopes of him," said Mr. Trueman, as he shut the door after
him;--"if I had any hopes of him, I would have punished him;--but I have
none. Punishment is meant only to make people better; and those who have
any hopes of themselves will know how to submit to it."

At these words Loveit first, and immediately all the rest of the guilty
party, stepped out of the ranks, confessed their fault, and declared
themselves ready to bear any punishment their master thought proper.

"Oh, they have been punished enough," said the old man; "forgive them,

Hardy looked as if he wished to speak. "Not because you ask it," said
Mr. Trueman to the guilty penitents, "though I should be glad to oblige
you--it wouldn't be just; but there," pointing to Hardy, "there is one
who has merited a reward; the highest I can give him is that of pardoning
his companions."

Hardy bowed and his face glowed with pleasure, whilst everybody present
sympathized in his feelings.

"I am sure," thought Loveit, "this is a lesson I shall never forget."

"Gentlemen," said the old man, with a faltering voice, "it wasn't for the
sake of my apples that I spoke; and you, sir," said he to Hardy, "I thank
you for saving my dog. If you please, I'll plant on that mount, opposite
the window, a young apple-tree, from my old one. I will water it, and
take care of it with my own hands for your sake, as long as I am able.
And may God bless you!" laying his trembling hand on Hardy's head; "may
God bless you--I'm sure God WILL bless all such boys as you are."


"Toute leur etude etait de se complaire et de s'entr'aider." *

At the foot of a steep, slippery, white hill, near Dunstable, in
Bedfordshire, called Chalk Hill, there is a hut, or rather a hovel, which
travellers could scarcely suppose could be inhabited, if they did not see
the smoke rising from its peaked roof. An old woman lives in this hovel,
** and with her a little boy and girl, the children of a beggar who died,
and left these orphans perishing with hunger. They thought themselves
very happy when the good old woman first took them into her hut and bid
them warm themselves at her small fire, and gave them a crust of mouldy
bread to eat. She had not much to give, but what she had she gave with
good-will. She was very kind to these poor children, and worked hard at
her spinning-wheel and at her knitting, to support herself and them. She
earned money also in another way. She used to follow all the carriages
as they went up Chalk Hill, and when the horses stopped to take breath or
to rest themselves, she put stones behind the carriage wheels to prevent
them from rolling backwards down the steep, slippery hill.

* "Their whole study was how to please and to help one another."
** This was about the close of the 18th century.

The little boy and girl loved to stand beside the good natured old
woman's spinning-wheel when she was spinning, and to talk to her. At
these times she taught them something, which, she said, she hoped they
would remember all their lives. She explained to them what is meant by
telling the truth, and what it is to be honest. She taught them to
dislike idleness, and to wish that they could be useful.

One evening, as they were standing beside her, the little boy said to
her, "Grandmother," for that was the name by which she liked that these
children should call her--"grandmother, how often you are forced to get
up from your spinning-wheel, and to follow the chaises and coaches up
that steep hill, to put stones underneath the wheels, to hinder them from
rolling back! The people who are in the carriages give you a halfpenny
or a penny for doing this, don't they?"

"Yes, child."

"But it is very hard work for you to go up and down that hill. You often
say that you are tired, and then you know that you cannot spin all that
time. Now if we might go up the hill, and put the stones behind the
wheels, you could sit still at your work, and would not the people give
us the halfpence? and could not we bring them all to you? Do, pray, dear
grandmother, try us for one day--to-morrow, will you?"

"Yes," said the old woman; "I will try what you can do; but I must go up
the hill along with you for the first two or three times, for fear you
should get yourselves hurt."

So, the next day, the little boy and girl went with their grandmother, as
they used to call her, up the steep hill; and she showed the boy how to
prevent the wheels from rolling back, by putting stones behind them; and
she said, "This is called scotching the wheels;" and she took off the
boy's hat and gave it to the little girl, to hold up to the carriage-
windows, ready for the halfpence.

When she thought that the children knew how to manage by themselves, she
left them, and returned to her spinning-wheel. A great many carriages
happened to go by this day, and the little girl received a great many
halfpence. She carried them all in her brother's hat to her grandmother
in the evening; and the old woman smiled, and thanked the children. She
said that they had been useful to her, and that her spinning had gone on
finely, because she had been able to sit still at her wheel all day.
"But, Paul my boy," said she, "what is the matter with your hand?"

"Only a pinch--only one pinch that I got, as I was putting a stone behind
a wheel of a chaise. It does not hurt me much, grandmother; and I've
thought of a good thing for to-morrow. I shall never be hurt again, if
you will only be so good as to give me the old handle of the broken
crutch, grandmother, and the block of wood that lies in the chimney-
corner, and that is of no use. I'll make it of some use, if I may have

"Take it then, dear," said the old woman; "and you'll find the handle of
the broken crutch under my bed."

Paul went to work immediately, and fastened one end of the pole into the
block of wood, so as to make something like a dry-rubbing brush. "Look,
grandmamma, look at my SCOTCHER. I call this thing my SCOTCHER," said
Paul, "because I shall always scotch the wheels with it. I shall never
pinch my fingers again; my hands, you see, will be safe at the end of
this long stick; and, sister Anne, you need not be at the trouble of
carrying any more stones after me up the hill; we shall never want stones
any more. My scotcher will do without anything else, I hope. I wish it
was morning, and that a carriage would come, that I might run up the
hill, and try my scotcher."

"And I wish that as many chaises may go by to-morrow as there did to-day,
and that we may bring you as many halfpence, grandmother," said the
little girl.

"So do I, my dear Anne," said the old woman; "for I mean that you and
your brother shall have all the money that you get to-morrow. You may
buy some gingerbread for yourselves, or some of those ripe plums that you
saw at the fruit-stall the other day, which is just going into Dunstable.
I told you then that I could not afford to buy such things for you; but
now that you can earn halfpence for yourselves, children, it is fair
should taste a ripe plum and bit of gingerbread for once and a way in
your lives."

"We'll bring some of the gingerbread home to her, shan't we, brother?"
whispered little Anne. The morning came; but no carriages were heard,
though Paul and his sister had risen at five o'clock, that they might be

Book of the day: