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Then poor Alfred went home, wondering how Neddy liked a train.
PART II. For a week Alfred thought of little except Neddy, from whom he had not been separated for two years. His master said he would employ him again, whenever he met with another donkey that suited him, but he could not tell when that might be; and in the meantime he missed the 1s. 6d. per week he used to be paid, besides odd pence beyond the regular pay, given him by those who rode. He was getting very unhappy about it all, when one day his master walked into his mother's house with a letter.
“Well, Alf, here is a chance for you. Mr. Lyne, to whom I sold Neddy, writes to say his little girl does not think it goes as well with their groom as it did with you; and I am to send you there to look after him, and to go out with Miss Lyne. I suppose your mother will consent."
Alfred could hardly speak from surprise.
“Mr. Lyne says he will give you your keep and your clothes, and a present now and then if he likes you. Your mother must get you ready as soon as she can, and here is the money for your rail.”
You may suppose he was soon ready. Alfred had always been taught to be careful of his clothes, and to brush them when dusty, and dry them when wet, so that he always looked the most tidy boy on week-days, though on Sundays the others were often the smartest. However, now Mrs. Davies washed his shirts and socks, rubbed up his Sunday suit, and the next morning he went off to Mr. Lyne's. He felt very frightened at seeing the coachman who had scolded him so. The man had been angry at what he thought impudence in Davies, and he was not pleased that Miss Lyne chose a poor donkey, instead of a smart pony, to ride on; but he had got over all that now, and said, kindly enough
“There, young man, there's your nag to do what you will with ; only do not meddle with
There stood poor Neddy, with such a smart saddle and bridle, and more hay than at Tunbridge Wells he had ever seen in his life. Miss Lyne was in a hurry to go out; so as soon as Alfred was dressed in his new clothes, he led the donkey to her.
“I cannot think why it is, but Neddy will not go with anybody but you without beating," she said.
“It is only that he don't know them,” said Alfred. “He knows my voice, and he will follow me anywhere ;' and sure enough, when he called him, Neddy trotted on at once.
So Alfred remained as a sort of odd boy in Mr. Lyne's stables; then he became groom, and at last coachman—for his master found that every animal that he took care of did well. He was always gentle with the horses, never
whipped them when they started, or were afraid to go past something that alarmed them, but let them look at it quietly, and spoke to them gently, and he never drove them fast uphill or through the town, to cut a dash and show off. He did his duty by them, and so got on well himself; for it usually happens, even in this world, that those who are not mere eye-servants succeed in life. Even if they do not, they have the comfort of a peaceful conscience.
PINDER’S COURT. " Oh! how I wish I could get out of this hateful court !” said Mrs. Carter, who lived in No. 2; "it is one continual fight, and mostly owing to those de-test-able Williamses, and thats chiefly that girl Lyddy. She is enough to upset the whole neighbourhood, always meddling and hanging about, and giving a saucy word to everybody. My husband declares he will give her a good beating, if she keeps on so; but I tell him not. It will bring old Williams about our ears, and he is an awful man, in particular when he is in drink.”
"Well, now,” said old Mrs. Johnson, a lone woman, who lived in No. 3, “I don't think Lyddy would be so bad if there was anybody to take her in hand a bit; but, you see, her mother goes out to work and leaves her to keep house, and she is not fit."
“Fit !-no; I should like to know what she is fit for, except to be the pest of this court," said Mrs. Carter. “I have just told her I will pitch a basin of dirty water on her head the next time I catch her looking in at my window.”
That evening, old Mrs. Johnson said to Lyddy, “Come in here, my girl, your frock is split all down the back. I have got a needle and thread in my hand, and will mend it if you will stand still."
Lyddy only stared, for in all her life she did not remember any one ever offering to do a kind thing for her. At last she said, “Why do you ask to do it? I have nothing to give you."
"My poor child,” said Mrs. Johnson, “ do you think no one will do anything except they get paid for it? But you may pay me, Lyddy, if you will try to let us have a little peace in this court. Why are you and the Carters at high words from morning till night?"
"I don't know," said Lyddy; "they are always at me whenever they see me, and use such awful words at me."
“And do you never give bad language in return? I will tell you what it is. You have nothing to do, or, at any rate, do nothing, and it provokes people to see you always hanging about, watching them and chat-ter-ing to every one that passes by. Why don't you clean up your house ?"
“I've not got a pail, or soap, or brush,” said Lyddy, and it's such a way to fetch the water."
"Well, I'll give you a bit of soap, and lend you a pail and brush, and show you how to clean; and when your father comes home, and sees how nice his house looks, he will give you a shilling or two, I am sure, to help keep it so. And if you will come and sit with me a bit in an evening, and bring your clothes, we will patch them up. And do you never read ?”
“Why," said Lyddy, I can't read well. I left school before I could, and we have no books."
“I am getting old,” said Mrs. Johnson, " and would often be so glad to be read to for a while; and I have some easy books, and with a little practice you would get on. It is idleness that has been your greatest fault, or at least the cause of your other faults."
“Nobody has ever cared about me," said Lyddy.
"Well, I do," answered Mrs. Johnson ; " you will make a nice girl, if you will once try to do your duty.”
And Lydia did try, for she felt so glad to have a few kind words instead of the abuse she had always met with. And in a few weeks Mrs. Carter was known to say, “ Why really Pinder's Court is not the same place now that Lyddy is no longer dawdling about, setting us all by the ears. Who would have thought she'd turn out so well, and be able to get a good place at last ?!!