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wall-flowers, tulips, and crocuses, with their yellow tufts of flowers, now becoming as common at the doors of village cots as the rosemary and rue once were, one cannot help regretting that more of our labouring classes do not enjoy the freshness of earth, and the pure breeze of heaven, in these little rural retreats, instead of being buried in close sombre alleys. A man who can, in addition to tolerable remuneration for the labour of his hands, enjoy a clean cottage and a garden amidst the common but precious offerings of Nature,
the grateful shade of trees and flow of waters, a pure atmosphere and a riant sky, can scarcely be called poor.
If Burns had been asked what was the greatest luxury of May, we suppose he would have quoted from his
Cotter's Saturday Night,"
"If heaven a draught of heavenly pleasure
One cordial in this melancholy vale, 'Tis when a youthful, loving, modest pair
In others' arms breathe out the tender tale, Beneath the milk-white thorn that scents the evening gale."
TO THE FIRST OF MAY.
"Hard his herte that loveth nought
In May, when al this mirth is wrought."-CHAUCER.
HAIL, thou rosy May! with thy merry-dancing hours,
To life's young hour of feeling, the gales of Araby,
Let Summer wear her flaunting garb and shoot her parching ray,
Thy pearls are flashing on the bough, the land is giving life,
The waters sparkle with delight, a buz is in the air,
Thou kindliest month of all the year, pass not too fast away,
Thou 'rt come, bright May! with passion's glance to flush the virgin's cheek,
From feelings undefinable her tongue must never speak,
She hears the mated bird's first song, when love is all the theme,-
Welcome, thou rosy May! with thy merry-dancing hours,
MATTERS went on smoothly venient for his father to fetch him
on the whole, till Joey had been full two years at school, and his third summer holidays were approaching.
home the ensuing Thursday, or indeed (on the account before mentioned) till the Saturday evening.
They were no longer anticipated with the same impatient longing which had drawn his heart towards home in his earlier school-days; but still there were home pleasures, and home indulgences, not attainable at school, and foremost of those ranked the privilege of being master of his own time, and of the grey colt, now become a well-disciplined, yet spirited steed, and destined to succeed to the functions of blind Dobbin, whose faithful career was fast drawing to a close.
Andrew, engrossed by his rural concerns, had not thought of the fair, of which Joey took especial care not to remind him, as he well knew, that were be to give the least hint of his schoolfellow's invitation, and his own vehement longing to accept it, his father would fetch him away at the risk of sacrificing his whole hay crop, rather than leave him exposed to the danger of mixing in such a scene of abomination.
In the meantime, Joey was permitted to call young Greybeard his horse, and was indulged in the pride and happiness of driving it himself the first time its services were put in requisition to fetch him home for the Christmas holidays. But when the summer vacation arrived, Joey's return was ordained to be in far other and less triumphant order. It so chanced, that on the very day of breaking up, a great annual fair was held at C, which was looked forward to as a grand festival by the boys whose parents and friends were resident there. These youngsters had vaunted its delights to Joey, and one especial friend and crony had invited his schoolfellow to go with him to his own house, and stay the two days of the fair. Now it unluckily fell out that these identical two days occurred at a season most important to Andrew-just as his hay-harvest was getting in, and there was reason to expect the breaking up of a long spell of dry weather. So when Joey returned to school on the Monday, he was enjoined to tell his master (with whom Andrew had no time for parlance,) that it would not be con
Master Joey, whose genius was of a very inventive nature, soon arranged in his own mind a neat little scheme, which would enable him to partake the prohibited delights, unsuspected by his father or the Rev. Mr. Jerk; so trimming up to his own purpose his father's message to that gentleman, he ingeniously substituted for the request that he might be allowed to stay at school till Saturday, —an intimation that he had obtained parental permission to accept his schoolfellow's invitation for the fair days, and that a neighbour's cart would take him home on Friday evening from the house of his friend's parents. Joey had his own plans for getting home too when the fun was over, and of managing matters so dexterously, that the truth should never transpire either to his father or master. The latter was easily imposed on by the boy's specious story; and when Thursday arrived, Joey, taking with him his little bundle of Sunday clothes, and his whole hoard of pence and sixpences, left school in high spirits with a party of his playmates.
Andrew Cleaves, meantime, got in his crops prosperously, and, exhausted as he was by a hard day's labour, set out on Saturday evening
* Continued from page 59.
to fetch home the expecting boy. Poor Greybeard was tired also, for he too had worked hard all day; but he was a spirited and willing creature, and went off freely, as if he knew his errand, and rejoiced at the thought of bringing home his young master. So the farmer and his vehicle arrived in good time at the door of the Academy, but Andrew looked towards it in vain, and at the upper and lower windows, for the happy little face that had been wont to look out for him on such occasions.
The servant girl who opened the door looked surprised when Andrew inquired for his son; and still greater astonishment appeared in Mr. Jerk's countenance, when he stepped forward and heard the reiterated inquiry. A brief and mutual explanation ensued a grievous one to the agitated father, whose feelings may be well imagined-irritated as well as anxious feelings, for on hearing the master's story, little doubt remained in his mind, but that the truant was still harboured at the house of his favourite schoolfellow. But the intelligence promptly obtained there, was of a nature to create the most serious alarm. The parents of Josiah's friend informed Andrew, tit his boy had accompanied their son home when the school broke up on Thursday morning-they having willingly granted the request of the latter, that his playfellow might be allowed to stay with him till an opportunity occurred (of which he was in expectation) of his returning to his father's the next evening. That after dinner the two boys had sallied out into the fair together, from which their son returned about dark without his companion, with the account that they had been separated the latter part of the day, but that just as he began to tire of looking about for his schoolfellow, Josiah had touched him hastily on the shoulder, saying a neighbour of his father's, who guessed he was playing truant, insisted on taking him home in his own cart, and that he must go that moment. This was all the boy had to tell-and that
Josiah vanished in the crowd so suddenly, he could not see who was with him. Vain were all possible inquiries in all directions. The distracted father could only learn further, that his child had been seen by many persons standing with his friend at many booths and stalls, and, at last, quite alone in a show-booth, belonging to a set of tight-rope and wire dancers, and of equestrian performers-with some of these he seemed to have made acquaintance, and among them he was last observed. That troop had quitted C the same night, and having fine horses and a light caravan, must have travelled expeditiously, and were probably already at a considerable distance; nor could the route they had taken be easily ascertained after they had passed through the turnpike, which had been about ten o'clock at night. Now it was that Andrew Cleaves, in the agony of his distress, would have given half his worldly substance to have obtained tidingsbut the least favourable tidings of his lost child-for dreadful thoughts, and fearful imaginings, suggested themselves, aggravating the horrors of uncertainty. There was no positive reason for belief that the boy had left C—with the itinerant troop. A rapid river ran by the town-there was a deep canal also-and thenthe wharf-crowded with bargesbetween which- --But Andrew was not one to brood over imaginary horrors in hopeless inaction, and the opinion of others encouraged him to hope that his son had only been lured away by the equestrian mountebanks. With the earliest dawn, therefore, mounted on the young powerful grey, he was away from C, and (according to the clue at last obtained) in the track of the itinerants. But they were far in advance, and soon after passing through the turnpike, had struck into cross country-roads and by-ways, so that the pursuit was necessarily tedious and difficult; and Andrew was unused to travelling, having never before adventured twenty miles be-
yond his native place. No wonder that he was sorely jaded in body and mind, when he put up for the night at a small town about thirty miles from C- —, through which he ascertained, however, that the caravan, with its escort, had passed early in the morning of the preceding day that the troop, while stopping to bait, had talked of Carlisle as their next place of exhibition; and had, in fact, struck into the great north road when they proceeded on their way. Andrew could gain no intelligence whether a boy, such as he described, accompanied the party. It having been very early morning when they baited their horses at the females of the band and children (if there were any) were still asleep within the closed caravan.
So Andrew proceeded with a heavy heart, but a spirit of determined perseverance-and his pursuit (now that he was fairly on the track of its object) was comparatively easy.
About mid-day, in mercy to his beast, as well as to recruit his own strength, he halted at a hedge alehouse, when, having unsaddled Greybeard, and seen that he was taken care of, he entered the kitchen and called for refreshment. There were many persons drinking and talking in the place, and Andrew failed not to make his customary inquiries, which awakened an immediate clamour of tongues-every one being ready with some information relating to the troop Andrew was in pursuit of. Such was the confusion of voices, however, that he was kept for a moment in painful suspense, when a decent looking woman, (apparently a traveller,) who was taking her quiet meal in one corner of the kitchen, came hastily forward, and laying her hand on Andrew's arm, and looking earnestly in his face, exclaimed," After what are ye asking, master? Is it for a stray lamb ye're seeking-and hav'nt I seen your face before?" Andrew shook like a leaf. The man of stern temper and iron nerves, shook like an aspen leaf, while the woman look
ed and spake thus earnestly-" Have ye, have ye found him?-have ye found my boy ?" was all he could stammer out. "You are a stranger
to me; but God bless you, if you can give me back my boy!"
"I am not a stranger to you, Andrew Cleaves; and I can give you back your boy; and the Lord bless him for your sake, for you saved me and mine, and took us in, and gave us meat and drink when we were ready to perish. Come your ways with me, Andrew Cleaves; but soft and quiet, for the laddy's in a precious sleep. He has come to hurt, but the Merciful watched over him.'
So she led him softly and silently through a little back kitchen, and up a steep dark stair, into a small upper chamber, before the casement of which a checked apron was pinned up, to exclude the full glow of light from the uncurtained bed. Softly and silently, with finger on her lip, she drew him on to the side of that humble bed, and there, indeed, fast locked in sleep, in sweet untroubled sleep, lay the little thoughtless one, whose disappearance had inflicted such cruel anxiety and distress.
The boy was sleeping sweetly, but his cheeks and lips were almost colourless; a thick linen bandage was bound round his head; and over one temple, a soft fair curl, that had escaped from the fillet, was dyed and stuck together with clotted blood. Andrew shuddered at the sight; but the woman repeated her whispered assurance, that there was no serious injury. Then the father knelt softly down beside his recovered darling, his head bent low over the little tremulous hand that lay upon the patchwork-counterpane. Almost involuntarily his lips approached it; but he refrained himself by a strong effort, and, throwing back his head, lifted his eyes to Heaven, in an ecstacy of silent gratitude; and, one after another, large tears rolled down over the rough, hard-featured face, every muscle of which quivered with powerful emotion. Yes, for the first time in his life, Andrew Cleaves
poured out his whole heart in gratitude to his Creator in the presence of a fellow-creature; and when he arose from his knees, so far was he from shrinking abased and humiliated from the eyes that were upon him, that, turning to the woman, and strongly grasping her hands in his own, he said softly and solemuly, 66 Now I see of a truth, that a man may cast his bread upon the waters, and find it again after many days. I gave thee and thine orphan babe a little food and a night's shelter, and thou restorest to me my child. While Andrew Cleaves has a morsel of bread, thou shalt share it with him." And he was as good as his word; and from that hour, whatever were, in other respects, his still inveterate habits of thrift and parsimony, Andrew Cleaves was never known to "turn away his face from any poor man."
By degrees all particulars relating to Joey's disappearance and his providential recovery, were circumstantially unravelled. The little varlet had been accidentally separated from his school fellow, and while gaping about the fair in search of him, had straggled towards the large showy booth, where feats of rope-dancing and horsemanship were exhibited. Long he stood absorbed in wondering admiration of the Merry-Andrew's antic gestures, and the spangled draperies and nodding plumes of the beautiful lady who condesended to twirl the tambourine, and foot it aloft," with nods and becks, and wreathed smiles," for the recreation of the gaping multitude. Others of the troop came in and out on the airy stage, inviting the "ladies and gentlemen" below to walk in, with such bland and cordial hospitality, that Joey thought it quite irresistible, and was just stepping under the canvass when a strong arm arrested him, and a splendid gentleman, in scarlet and gold, demanded the price of entrance. That was not at Joey's command, for all his copper hoard was already expended, so he was shrinking back, abashed and mortifi
ed, when one or two idlers of the band, probably seeing something promising about him, and that he was a pretty, sprightly,, well-limbed lad, whose appearance might do credit to their honourable profession, entered into a parley with him, and soon made out that he was playing truant at that very moment, and apparently blessed with such an adventurous genius, as, with a little encouragement, might induce him to join the company, and succeed to the func tions of a sharp limber urchin, of whom inexorable death had lately deprived them. So Joey was let in gratis; and there he was soon translated into the seventh heaven of wonder and delight at the superhuman performances of his new acquaintances. He had, as it were, an innate passion for horses, and the equestrian feats threw him into fits of ecstasy. Then all the gentlemen and ladies were so good natured and so funny! and one gave him a penny-pie, and another a drop of something strong and good; and then the manager himself-a very grand personage-told him, if he liked, he should wear a blue and silver jacket, and ride that beautiful piebald, with its tail tied up with flame-coloured ribbons. That clinched the bargain; and in a perfect bewilderment of emulation and ambition-wonder and gratitude-gin and flattery-poor Joey suffered himself to be enrolled in "The Royal Equestrian Troop of Signor Angelo Galopo, di Canterini."
Forthwith was he equipped in the azure vestments of the deceased Bobby, and indulged with five minutes' sitting on the back of the beautiful piebald; after which, on the close of the day's performance, he made one of the jovial and unceremonious party round a plentiful board, where he played his part with such right good will, and was so liberally helped to certain cordial potations, that long before the end of the banquet, his head dropt on the shoulder of his fair neighbonr, the lovely Columbine, and in a moment he was fast locked in such profound slumber,