« AnteriorContinuar »
picked up a very decent livelihood.” “And you may do the same, Mortlake, and still put by a portion for your father.” “ You don't mean, Sir, as I should keep father, do you?” “ Who kept you before you could get your own bread, Mortlake?”
Why, to be sure, father did ; but then that is quite different, I can't make father do as I bid him. It arn't to be expected. If my children were naughty, I would put them to bed out of my way; but if father is cross I must bear it. Besides, you see I was just getting the fore horse by the head, and have laid by a little against a rainy day, butif I be to allow father, that will all go." "But when your father's well he maintains himself, Mortlake; and I should think it would make him well sooner, to find that he had a son who cared for him. Now I tell you what, you have been very careful this last spring time, and I do not think I lost above one lamb. Now I tell you
what I will do for you : I will give you thirty shillings towards keeping your father, sooner than you should go to the parish.” “Why, that is very genteel of you, Sir; why, thirty shillings is as much as father would want.'
“ But, hark ye, what, Mortlake, you are not to allowance this money, and when it is gone, say you can do no more; no, your wife must go
and see him every day, and help your poor old mother to attend him, and whatever the doctor orders you must get for him ; and when my thirty shillings is gone, you are not to harden your heart, and say you can do no more. “ What, Sir, I harden my heart against father; no, Sir, that could not be, for I am uncommon fond of father.” “ Have you not a brother, Mortlake ?" “ To be sure I have, Sir, one as lives at Farmer Jennings's :'he is the shepherd there, Sir” “So I thought, well go to him; say nothing of what I am going to give you, but endeavour to persuade him to help your poor father now in the time of his need.'
The shepherd did as his master advised. * What,” says his brother, “I allow him. Are not the parish bound to allow him ?” “Ah!" said Mortlake, “ did not father provide for us when we were young? and can't we do something for him now? why Tom, I thought you was fond of your father,” said Isaac. “ And so I be uncommon fond; but why should I save the parish, arn't they bound? Where didst ye get these notions in your head? I'm thinking as thy master helped ye to it, so over-righteous all at once,” and not one penny could he get from his brother.
This tale was told to Mr. Lascelles, “ Ah! this comes of our poor laws,” said he. Michael was not discouraged, he had heard Mr. Lascelles say, that it was best, in working any change, to begin with the youngest; therefore, in a long family distress which afflicted the parents of his little plough-boy, he took him into his small parlour, and shutting the door, he began as follows:
Patting his head with kindness, he said,
“ Nine, Sir, come mothering Sunday.”
“ Nine, why, you are getting on, Charles ; next year you will be ten, should you live to see
Charles smiled, “Yes, Sir.” was pleased last Sunday to observe that you were very attentive at church, that you read the Psalms carefully with your brother, so here is a nice prayer-book for you. “ I thank you, Sir,” said Charles, and his eyes glistened with pleasure. “I think, my lad, your father has all your earnings?” Yes, Sir, only mother says I am to have a new frock against my birthday; for you see, Sir, this has been mended pretty often. “ Well, and where is the money?" Charles looked very knowingly, and said, his mother had given him so much a-week to put into his money box, and that he got quite enough into
sixpence. But, Charles, when I called upon your father the other day, I thought his coat looked very old.” Yes, Sir.”
Now, should you like to have a new frock, and your father wear his old coat, when he has got the rheumatism, and you are quite well ?” “ If my father wanted a coat, I think I could not be happy to wear a new dress, and see my poor father go ragged. But my frock won't cost above six shillings, and father's coat would cost a power of money.” “Well, Charles, I was thinking of asking Mr. Lascelles and Mr. Brownrigg, and Mr. Meredith at. the mill, all to help with a little for a coat for your father, and adding something myself; and if you were to put down your six shillings at the top of the paper, I think it would be an encouragement to these gentlemen to put down something. What do you think, Charles ?” Charles did not understand him. “Now come here, child," said Michael; “ your father's coat will cost thirty shillings: Now, how much is five times six ?” “ Five times six is thirty, Sir.” “Well, there is Mr. Lascelles, I know he will give six shillings; there is Mr. Brownrigg, that makes twelve; there is Mr. Meredith at the mill, and that makes eighteen; then there is my six shillings, and that makes twenty-four. But
what shall we do for the other six, if you won't help your poor father ?" “ Oh, but I will, Sir, and welcome."
“ Well, now, that is just what I expected from you, Charles; I did indeed expect you would help us to buy your father a coat.” It may be thought that Michael would immediately buy this boy a new frock; but no, he did not; he ordered him to bring his frock up, and had it very nicely mended for him with a new pair of sleeves; but it would have quite been destroying the sacrifice, had he immediately supplied the lad's exigence, and we can safely say that this kindled spirit in the mind of the boy for his poor father continued long to operate. A voluntary sacrifice which he made the following year may serve to prove this.
He saw his mother hard at work one Saturday night piecing her gown, and he said to himself, “ How I do wish I could buy mother a new gown; and when he saw his sister, as he did shortly after at the mop, “ Phillis,” said he, "might not Walter, and you and I, put a little together to buy mother a gown? why, I was thinking there was every body in the parish gets a new gown but our mother;" and Phillis and he went up to her one Monday morning, and put their arms round her neck, and begged her to accept of the gown which they had