Imatges de pÓgina
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had sense enough to know that the gain did not make up for the danger; he knew that a loose faggot, pulled from a neighbour's pile of wood after the family were gone to bed, answered the end better, and was not half the trouble.

Among the many trades which Giles professed, he sometimes practised that of a rat-catcher ; but he was addicted to so many tricks, that he never followed the same trade long; for detection will, sooner or later, follow the best concerted villainy. Whenever he was sent for to a farm-house, his custom was to kill a few of the old rats, always taking care to leave a little stock of young ones alive sufficient to keep up the “ breed; for,” said he, “if I were to be such a “ fool as to clear a house or a barn at once, how “ would my trade be carried on?” And where any barn was over-stocked, he used to borrow a few rats from thence just to people a neighbouring granary which had none; and he might have gone on till now, had he not unluckily been caught one evening emptying his cage of rats under parson Wilson's barndoor.

This worthy minister, Mr. Wilson, used to pity the neglected children of Giles, as much as he blamed the wicked parents. He one day picked up Dick, who was far the best of Giles's bad boys. Dick was loitering about in a field behind the parsons garden in search of a hen’s nest, his mother having ordered him to bring home a few eggs that night, by hook or by crook, as Giles was resolved to have some pancakes for supper, though he knew that eggs were a penny a-piece. Mr. Wilson had long been desirous of snatching some of this vagrant family from ruin; and his chief hopes were bent on Dick, as the least hackneyed in knavery. He had once given him a new pair of shoes, on his promising to go to school next Sunday; but no sooner had Rachel, the boy's VOL. III.

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mother,

mother, got the shoes into her clutches, than she pawned them for a bottle of gin, and ordered the boy to keep out of the parson's sight, and to be sure to play his marbles on Sunday for the future at the other end of the parish, and not near the churchyard. Mr. Wilson, however, picked up the boy once more ; for it was not his way to despair of any body. Dick was just going to take to his heels, as usual, for fear the old story of the shoes should be brought forward ; but finding he could not get off, what does be do but run into a little puddle of muddy water which lay between him and the parson, that the sight of his naked feet might not bring on the dreaded subject. Now it happened that Mr. Wilson was planting a little field of beans, so he thought this a good opportunity to employ Dick; and he told him he had got some pretty easy work for him. Dick did as he was bid ; he willingly went to work, and readily began to plant his beans with dispatch and regularity, according to the directions given him.

While the boy' was busily at work by himself, Giles happened to come by, having been skulking round the back way to look over the parson's garden wall, to see if there was any thing worth climbing over for on the ensuing night. He spied Dick, and began to scold him for working for the stingy old parson ; for Giles had a natural antipathy to whatever belonged to the church. 46 What has he promised “ thee a-day?” said he ; “ little enough I dare say." “ He is not to pay me by the day,” said Dick," but

say's he will give me so much when I have planted " this peck, and so much for the next.” “Oh, oh! " that alters the case," said Giles.”

indeed, get a trifle by this sort of work. I hate s your regular day-jobs, where one can't well avoid * doing one's work for one's money. Come, give

me a handful of the beans; I will teach thee how to

One may,

“ plant

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plant when thou art paid for planting by the peck, " All we have to do in that case is to dispatch the work

as fast as we can, and get rid of the beans with ^ all speed; and as to the seed coming up or not, “ that is no business of our's; we are paid for plant“ ing, not for growing; At the rate thou goest on “ thou would’st not get sixpence to-night. Come along, bury away.” So saying, he took his hate ful of the seed, and where Dick had been ordered to set one bean, Giles buried a dozen: of course the beans were soon out. But though the peck was emptied, the ground was unplanted: But cunning Giles knew this could not be found out till the time when the beans might be expected to come up," and " then, Dick," says he, “ the snails and the mice

may go shares in the blame; or we can lay the s« fault on the rooks or the black-birds.” So saying, he sent the boy into the parsonage to receive his pay, taking care to secure about a quarter of the peck of beans for his own colt. He put both bag and beans into his own pocket to carry home, bidding Dick tell Mr. Wilson that he had planted the beans and lost the bag.

In the mean time Giles's other boys were busy in emptying the ponds and trout-streams in the neighbouring manor. They would steal away the carp and tench when they were no bigger than gud geons. By this untimely depredation they plundered the owner of his property, without enriching themselves. But the pleasure of mischief was reward enough. These, and a hundred other little thieve. ries, they committed with such dexterity, that old Tim Crib, whose son was transported last assizes for sheep-stealing, used to be often reproaching his boys, that Giles's sons were worth a hundred of such blockheads as he had ; for scarcc a night past bug Giles had some little comfortable thing for supper

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wbich which his boys had pilfered in the day, while his undutiful dogs never stole any thing worth having. Giles, in the mean time, was busy in his way, but as busy as he was in laying nets, starting coveys, and training dogs he always took care that his depredations should not be confined merely to game.

Giles's boys had never seen the inside of a church since they were christened, and the father thought he knew his own interest better than to force them to it; for church-time was the season of their harvest. Then the hen's nests were searched, a stray duck was clapped under the smock frock, the tools which might have been left by chance in a farm-yard were picked up, and all the neighbouring pigeonhouses were thinned, so that Giles used to boast to tawny Rachel his wife, that Sunday was to them the most profitable day in the week. With her it was certainly the most laborious day, as she always did her washing and ironing on the Sunday morning, it being, as she said, the only leisure day she had, for on the other days she went about the country telling fortunes, and selling dream books and

Neither her husband's nor her chil. dren's clothes were ever mended, and if Sunday, her idle day, had not come about once in every week, it is likely they would never have been washed neither. You might, however, see her as you were going to church smoothing her own rags on her best red cloak, which she always used for her ironing-cloth on Sundays, for her cloak when she travelled, and for her blanket at night; such a wretchcd manager was Rachel! Among her other articles of trade, one was to make and sell peppermint, and other distilled waters. These she had the cheap art of making without trouble and without expence, for seh made them without herbs and

without

wicked songs.

without a still. Her way was, to fill so many quart bottles with plain water, putting a spoonful of mint water in the mouth of each ; these she corked down with rosin, carrying to each customer a phial of real distilled water to taste by way of sample. This was so good that her bottles were commonly bought up without being opened; but if any suspicion arose, and she was forced to uncork a bottle, by the few drops of distilled water lying at top, she even then escaped detection, and took care to get out of reach before the bottle was opened a second time. She was too prudent ever to go twice to the same house.

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The upright Magistrate.

THERE is hardly any pretty mischief that is not connected with the life of a poacher. Mr. Wilson was aware of this; he was not only a pious clergyman, but an upright justice. He used to say, that people who were truly conscientious, must be so in small things as well as in great ones, or they would destroy the effect of their own precepts, and their example would not be of general use, For this reason he never would accept of a hare or a partridge from any unqualified person in his parish. He did not content himself with shulling the thing off by asking no questions, and pretending to take it for granted in a general way that the game was fairly come at; but he used to say, that by receiving the booty he connived at a crimne, made himself a sharer in it, and if he gave a present to the

man who bought it, he even tempted him to repeat the fault.

One day poor Jack Weston, an honest fellow in the neighbourhood, whom Mr. Wilson had kindly

visited

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