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ple of chairs, and the table we ate off-poor looking things ugh, I dare say to them, who took them, but worth ten times much to us as they seized them for ; and they knew there is work for a man to get—that the fields are as hard as their n hearts. I

say it is a cruel case, neighbour ; a cruel case.' • Ah ! what do they care, Master!" rejoined Joe Howe ; re they grind us down, the better for themselves. Who pays for missioners, and overseers, and guardians, and masters, and trons, I should like to know, but the poor? Why, if we were ter off, all these people would be out of place." • I should just like to see how much their salaries come to, d Miles, “and what proportion it bears to the cost of the pers, when the numbers of the two classes are taken into Eount.” ** Don't I wish I was a member of Parliament for a little time!” atinued his neighbour ; 66 wouldn't I move for a return of these

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'd make a cleverer one than some of them that's re,” said Greenwood ; “you could tell the truth of the matter, 1 point out where we suffer, and what we want, which is more n they can do.' * But who, Master IIowe, has got to send up the fish ?” interted Nell, who dreaded the souring effect of this crude political ate on her husband's temper.

is Does Mr. Bennett's waggon No, no, Mistress," responded Howe, in a surly tone, “ Master inett takes too much care of his dumb creatures for

of their being turned out to earn their oats upon a road as d as iron and as slippery as glass - his horses are well fed, well covered, which is more than his labourers are. Mr. Bennett has always been a good master to us,” said I, coyly raising the fire, which she had at last coaxed into ng itself, and making a show of burning. “But, of course, he ects to get labour as cheap as his neighbours, and we can't ect him any more than the rest to keep servants when he has ling for them to do.”

Ah! that wasn't the plan when I first remember farm ser,” rejoined Ilowe; " then a man was hired by the year, and

in his master's house, if he was single, and if not, he had a age on the farm, and the privilege of keeping fowls, pigs, and times even a cow—so that you could hardly go into a labourer's

house where you didn't see a side of bacon hanging in the chimney—and home-baked bread, and home-brewed beer on the table -instead of starviny, as we do now, on poor Paddy's meal of potatoes, that in them times we thought only food for pigs, and mocked the Irish for living on them, little thinking how soon we should be brought to the same fare.

“And not even enough of that,” groaned Miles, resuming his beat to and fro the room.

“ But I hve hearil some of the old people say, " rejoined Nell, “that one reason of the alteration wils the dishonesty of the farm servants, who, not contenteil with the comforts of their situations, robbed their master's barns and tables to feel the fowls and pigs they were allowed to keep.”

* Robbed!" repeated Mr. lIowe, with considerable indignation,

as if they could have been hurt by a man's taking a few beans, or a handful of corn from the bin. They were always a hard lot, Mrs. Greenwood, and I've known one of them before now transport the best servant he had, for hiding a little extra corn to fatten his master's horses with."

“ Nell always seems to take part against her own side," interrupted (reenwood ; “I'm sure there's no occasion to uphold the rich : all the strength is in their hands."

“But we should be just to every one,” replied Vell; “and against our master I am sure we have no right to complain : recollect how kind he was when you and the children were bad with fever. I shall never forget it. I am sure we had reason to thank God then that he was rich, for if it had not been for the nourishing things he sent, and the money he gave us, it would have gone very hard with us all. But you havn't told us yet. Master IIowc,” she continued, wishing to turn the discourse, "you havn't told us yet, whose waggons are going up with the fish."

“I beliove Mír, Belson's and old Grimes's," returned her neighbour. “But I must fit about making sure of a job. If they shouldn't want me, Miles, they'd better keep a sharp look out. They won't start till pretty late, as it 's no good their getting to town before Billingsgate is open in the morning ; and if they fint! their cargo all right, I 'll never snare a rabbit, or crow down a pheasant again. A fish supper is letter than none; so if you go up with 'em don't look behind you when passing Deadman's Lane . recollect the hint, so now good day.” And witii a familiar nod, anci a wink of wicked significance, Master Ilowe took his departure




Scarcely had the sound of his retreating footsteps crushing through the frozen snow ceased, before others were heard approaching, and the cottage door again opened, and admitted an object of absolute terror to the poor inmates, in the person of Mr. Grimes, butcher, farmer, and parish overseer. Singularly enough he neither scowled nor blustered ; but turning his cold keen eye round the room with a quickness that seemed to scan its disfurnished state at a glance, he exclaimed, “ How is this? how is this, Miles ?~I'm very sorry to hear my colleague proceeded to distrain-very sorry-been away myself the last three or four days. Cattle show-Christmas stock—did'nt know anything about it till Mr. Bennett told me just now. They say you can't keep your family upon your earnings.'

Earnings !” repeated Miles ; “ I should like to know when I had any; not for the last five weeks, as Mr. Bennett could tell you."

“Well, why not come into the house ?” inquired the Overseer, quite persuasively.

“What! and be separated from my wife and children? Never," kalf shrieked the man, I will die by the road-side first."

“Oh!” resumed Mr. Grimes, his official cast of countenance gradually overshading the grim complacency he had assumed, “Oh, well, if paupers have too much pride to take assistance when it is offered them, you must abide by the consequences, that's all.”

I have never been a pauper,” cried Greenwood passionately,“ till amongst ye I've been made one to-day. We have borne a good many hard things rather than trouble the parish officers, or owe anything to the poor-house; and we will continue to do so, Mr. Grimes ; I would rather go to the grave than to the workhouse,

• Very well, very well,” vociferated the Overseer, “I have done my duty-much more than my duty-in making the offer, instead of waiting for your application ; but as you have never troubled the parish, and have hitherto been very exact in paying your rate, I did'nt mind straining a point, and to oblige Mr.

“I did'nt think Mr. Bennett could have known of our trouble," interposed Nell timidly. “No more he did'nt, my good woman, till just now, when we met your goods a going to be carted; he has been from home, too; both of us have been from home ; and to oblige him, I promised to look into your case, and do all I


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could for you ; but we've male a rule against giving out-doors relief, so you 'l better think again of my offer."

“ I thought,” said Greenwood bitterly; "it could not be to you we owed even the offer of the workhouse. I have not forgot how you refused us credit even for a pound of meat, when my children and I lay at death's door, in the doctor gave no hopes of our lives without proper nourishment : though not a farthing in my name stood on your books, you refused it to us. I remember it, Mr. Grimes, and ever shall.

* lIush ! dear Miles," interrupted his wife, “all that is past and gone ; you were not left without friends and assistance, and the same Providence that supplied us then, and raised you and our children from a bed of sickness, will protect and help us now."

“ I am sure I don't know-can't remember,” muttered Mr. Grimes in some confusion ; me mi-take in the shop, I suppose.

“Nell, Nell, speak out, why don't you"exclaimed her husband vehemently Why will you let him lie through it? Tell him when it rus, and who refused it.

"I am sure if I dial so, said Mr. Grimes, in softer accents than he had hitherto employed, " it must have been in the hurry of business-- or I did'nt understand who it was for ;' and then, as if the truth was after all the weightiest reason, and as gooil an apology to others as to himsell, he rejoineil, " Besides, my good man, I have a large family of my own ; an uliere was I to look for the money, when people liil nt thin's from one hour to another that you could live." The muscular frame of the labourer seemed trembling and throbbing all over, with compressed excitement; his hands clenched involuntarily, his turqit swelled, and the veins in his temples stood out like corda, while liis wife, by her looks, vainly besought his forbearance ; then suddenly his passion exploded in a burst of the grimmest laughter Hr. Grimes had ever heard so profoundly charged with hate anil scorn, that his ears fairly tingled again ; and he felt this pea-int man from his moral elevation scanning him with eyes of contempt, from the bald place on his crown—which seemed to contract, iind rufile the hair over it, with an instinctive sensation of the other's cold keen glance—to his well-shod, and warmly-zaiterea pelal extremities. And never had the parochial authority felt himself so little.

“ After all, sir,” said Greenwood, wondering at his own courage in exposing the Overseer to himself, “one ought not to be.



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surprised at your indifference to the dying, when you are daily helping to starve your distressed neighbours with high prices and short weight. You are a hard man, Mr. Grimes, and cannot expect but that one of these days, your bad deeds will find you out. Think of all the beef and mutton you have kept in your shop, till obliged to bury it, or fling it in the river, rather than let the poor benefit by it, or sell it to them a single halfpenny under price. No one gives you a good word—how can they? And at this moment there is scarcely a man in the village who would think it wrong

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any way that offered.” 6. What do you say

y ?—what do you say ?" repeated Mr. Grimes, who at that moment saw his barns burning, and his cattle hocked. “What do you say, my good friend ?

And he raised his eyes to Greenwood in the greatest alarm.

“ There is no friendship between us, sir,” said Miles, almost sternly, “I am the pauper labourer, and


the rich Overseer ; but I am also an honest man, and would scorn to wrong, or let wrong be done, even to such as you, if I knew it.

Ask me no questions; but if your waggons go to town to-night, let them start with Mrs. Belson's, and send three or four men with them. I can tell you no more; but where there are so many hungry men about, and food to be liad, perhaps, without using force, it is as well to be on your guard." All this while Nell had been getting closer and closer to her husband : first it was sheer fright that impelled her, when she heard him talk up so boldly, to the rich butcher ; then it was admiration for his courage ; but this touch of integrity brought her to his very side, and for the moment the peasantos wife forgot hunger and poverty, in the thought that this same honest, out-spoken man, was hers and nobody else's—the father of her children, her friend, companion, and protector—and her wan cheek, and sunken eyes, caught a ficeting brightness and colour from the consciousness.

Before Mr. Grimes had time to put into language the suspicions, fears, and determinations Greenwood's hint had filled him with, Nell, through a little spot in the frozen window-pane, which one of the children had scratched away to look out at the movements of some starveling sparrows, who were supposed to be so tired of their lives as to place themselves voluntarily beneath a brick, raised for the purpose of being let fall on them; the proprietors of the rude snare (to misapply the phrase) being too poor to lay even a crumb

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