Charlotte Mary Yonge.

A storehouse of stories : storehouse the first online

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her belly, now climbing upon her back, and frisking about



HISTORY OF LITTLE JACK. 415

as if he had really been a kid. As to his clothing, Jack was
not much encumbered with it ; he had neither shoes, nor
stockings, nor shirt ; but the weather was warm, and Jack
felt himself so much lighter for every kind of exercise. In
a short time after this, Jack began to imitate the sounds of
his papa, the man, and his mamma, the goat; nor was it long
before he learned to speak articulately. The old man, de-
lighted with this first dawn of reason, used to place him upon
his knee and converse with him for hours together, while his
pottage was slowly boiling amid the embers of a turf fire.
As he grew bigger. Jack became of considerable use to his
father; he could trust him to look after the gate, and open
it during his absence; and, as to the cookery of the family,
it was not long before Jack was a complete proficient, and
could make broth almost as well as his daddy himself.
During the winter nights the old man used to entertain him
with stories of what he had seen during his youth, the battles
and sieges he had been witness to, and the hardships he had
undergone ; all this he related with so much vivacity that
Jack was never tired of listening. But what delighted him
beyond measure was to see daddy shoulder his crutch in-
stead of a musket, and give the word of command. To the
right — to the left^present — fire — march — halt — all this was
familiar to Jack's ear as soon as he could speak, and before
he was si.\ years old he poised and presented a broom-stick,
which his daddy gave him for that purpose, with as good a
grace as any soldier of his age in Europe.

The old man too instructed him in such plain and simple
morals and religion as he was able to explain. ' Never tell
an untruth. Jack,' said he, ' even though you were to be flayed
alive; a soldier never lies.' Jack held up his head, marched
across the floor, and promised his daddy that he would
always tell the truth, like a soldier. But the old man, as he
was something of a scholar, had a great ambition that his
darling should learn to read and write; and this was a work
of some difficulty; for he had neither printed book, nor pens,
nor paper in his cabin. Industry, however, enables us to
overcome difficulties; in the summer time, as the old man
sat before his cottage, he would draw letters in the sand, and



41 6 STOREHOUSE OF STORIES.

teach Jack to name them singly, until he was acquainted
with the whole alphabet; he then proceeded to syllables, and
after that to words; all which his little pupil learned to pro-
nounce with great facility: and, as he had a strong propensity
to imitate what he saw, he not only acquired the power of
reading words, but of tracing all the letters which composed
them, on the sand.

About this time the poor goat which had nursed Jack so
faithfully, grew ill and died. He tended her with the greatest
affection and assiduity during her illness, brought her the
freshest herbs for food, and would frequently support her
head for hours together upon his little bosom. But it was
all in vain; he lost his poor mammy, as he used to call her,
and was for some time inconsolable; for Jack, though his
knowledge was bounded, had an uncommon degree of grati-
tude and affection in his temper. He was not able to talk
as finely about love, tenderness, and sensibility, as many
other little boys that have enjoyed greater advantages of
education; but he felt the reality of them in his heart, and
thought it so natural to love everything that loves us, that he
never even suspected it was possible to do otherwise. The
poor goat was buried in the old man's garden, and thither
little Jack would often come and call upon his poor mammy
Nan, and ask her why she had left him. One day as he was
thus employed, a lady happened to come by in a carriage,
and overheard him before he was aware. Jack ran in an
instant to open the gate ; but the lady stopped, and asked
him whom he was bemoaning so pitifully, and calling upon.
Jack answered that it was his poor mammy, that was buried
in the garden. The lady thought it very odd to hear of such
a burial-place, and therefore proceeded to question him,
' How did your mamma get her living ? ' said she. ' She used
to 'graze here upon the common all day long,' said Jack.
The ladyVas still more astonished ; but the old man came
out of his hut, and explained the whole affair to her, which
surprised her very much ; for though this lady had seen a
great deal of the world, and had read a variety of books, it
had never once entered into her head that a child might grow
strong and vigorous by sucking a goat, instead of eating pap.



HISTORY OF LITTLE JACK. 417

She therefore looked at Jack with amazement, admired his
brown but animated face, and praised his shape and activity.
'Will you go with me, little boy?' said she, 'and I will take
care of you, if you behave well.' 'No,' said Jack, 'I must
stay with daddy; he has taken care of me for many years,
and now I must take care of him; otherwise I should like
very well to go with such a sweet, good-natured lad)-.' The
lady was not displeased with Jack's answer, and putting her
hand in her pocket, gave him half-a-crown, to buy him shoes
and stockings, and pursued her journey.

Jack was not unacquainted with the use of money, as he
had been often sent to the next village to purchase bread
and necessaries; but he was totally unacquainted with the
use of shoes and stockings, which he had never worn in his
life, or felt the want of The next day, however, the old
man bade him run to town, and lay his money out as the
lady had desired ; for he had too much honour to think of
disobeying her commands, or suftering it to be expended for
any other purpose. It was not long before Jack returned;
but the old man was much surjjrised to see him come back
as bare as he went out. ' Heigh, Jack!' said he, ' where are
the shoes and stockings which you were to purchase?'
' Daddy,' answered Jack, ' I went to the shop, and just tried
a pair for sport, but I found them so cumbersome that I
could not walk, and I would not wear such things, even if
the lady would give me another half-crown for doing it; so I
laid the money out in a warm jacket for you, because the
winter is coming on, and you seem to be more afraid of the
cold than formerly.' Many such instances of conduct did
Jack disi)lay; from which it was easy to perceive that he had
an excellent soul and generous temper. One failing, indeed,
Jack was liable to; though a very good-natured boy, he was
a little too jealous of his honour. His daddy had taught
him the use of his hands and legs, and Jack had such dis-
positions for the art of boxing that he could beat every boy
in the neighbourhood of his age and size. Even if they were
a head taller, it made no difference to Jack, provided they
said anything to wound his honour; for otherwise he was the
most mild, pacific creature in the world. One day that he '
* E E



41 8 STOREHOUSE OF STORIES.

had been sent to the village, he returned with his eyes black,
and his face swelled to a frightful size: it was even with diffi-
culty that he was able to walk at all, so sore was he with the
pommelling he had received. ' What have you been doing
now, Jack?' said the old man. ' Only fighting with Dick
the butcher.' ' You rogue,' said the old man, ' he is twice as
big as you are, and the best fighter in all the country.'
'What does that signify?' said Jack; 'he called you an old
beggarman, and then I struck him ; and I will strike him
again whenever he calls you so, even if he should beat me to
pieces; for you know, daddy, that you are not a beggarman,
but a soldier.'

In this manner hved Little Jack, until he was twelve years
old; at this time his poor old daddy fell sick and became
incapable of moving about. Jack did everything he could
think of for the poor man; he made him broths, he fed him
with his own hands, he watched whole nights by his bedside,
supporting his head and helping him when he wanted to
move. But it was all in vain ; his poor daddy grew daily
worse, and perceived it to be impossible that he should re-
cover. He one day, therefore, called little Jack to his bed-
side, and pressing his hand affectionately, told him that he
was just going to die. Little Jack burst into a flood of tears
at this information, but his daddy desired him to compose
himself, and attend to the last advice he should be able to
give him. ' I have lived,' said the old man, ' a great many
years in poverty, but I do not know that I have been worse
off than if I had been rich. I have avoided, perhaps, many
faults and many uneasinesses, which I should have incurred
had I been in another situation ; and though I have often
wanted a meal and always fared hard, I have enjoyed as
much health and life as usually falls to the lot of my betters.
I am now going to die; I feel it in every part; the breath will
soon be out of my body; then I shall be put in the ground,
and the worms will eat your poor old daddy.' At this Jack
renewed his tears and sobbings, for he was unable to restrain
them. But the old man said, ' Have patience, my child ;
though I should leave this world, as I have always been
strictly honest and endeavoured to do my duty, I do not



HISTORY OF LITTLE JACK. 419

doubt but God will pity me, and convey me to a better
place, where I shall be happier than I have ever been here.
This is what I have always taught you, and this belief gives
me the greatest comfort in my last moments. The only
regret I feel is for you, my dearest child, whom I leave un-
jjrovided for. But you are strong and vigbrous, and almost
able to get your living. As soon as I am dead, you must go
to the next village and inform the people, that they may come
and bury me. You must then endeavour to get into service,
and work for your living ; and, if you are strictly honest and
sober, I do not doubt that you will find a livelihood, and
that God, who is the common father of all, will protect and
bless you. Adieu, my child, I grow fainter and fainter;
never forget your poor old daddy, nor the example he has
set you; but in every situation of life discharge your duty,
and live like a soldier and a Christian.' When the old man
had with difficulty uttered these last instructions, his voice
entirely failed him, his limbs grew cold and stiff, and in a
few minutes he expired without a groan. Little Jack, who
hung crying over his daddy, called upon him in vain, in vain
endeavoured to revive him. At length he pulled off his
clothes, went into his daddy's bed, and endeavoured for
many hours to animate him with the warmth of his own
body; but finding all his endeavours fruitless, he concluded
that he was indeed dead; and therefore, weejiing bitterly,
he dressed himself, and went to the village as he had been
ordered. The yjoor little boy was thus left entirely destitute,
and knew not what to do; but one of the farmers, who had
been acquainted with him before, offered to take him into
his house, and give him his victuals for a few months, till
he could find a service. Jack thankfully accepted the offer,
and served him faithfully for several months; during which
time he learned to milk, to drive the plough, and never re-
fused any kind of work he was able to perform. But, by
ill luck, this good-natured farmer contracted a fever, by
over-heating himself in the harvest, and died in the begin
ning of winter. His wife was therefore obliged to discharge
her servants, and Jack was again turned loose upon the
world, with only his clothes and a shilling in his pocket,
E E 2



420 STOREHOUSE OF STORIES.



which his kind mistress had made him a present of. He
was very sorry for the loss of his master, but he was now
grown bigger and stronger, and thought he should easily
find employment. He therefore set out upon his travels,
walking all day, and inciuiring at every farmhouse for work.
But in this attempt he was unfortunate, for nobody chose to
employ a stranger; and though he lived with the greatest
economy, he soon found himself in a worse situation than
ever, without a farthing in his pocket, or a morsel of bread
to eat. Jack, however, was not of a temper to be easily
cast down; he walked resolutely on all day, but towards
evening was overtaken by a violent storm of rain, which
wetted him to the skin before he could find a bush for
shelter. Noav, poor Jack began to think of his old daddy,
and the comforts he had formerly enjoyed upon the common,
where he had always a roof to shelter him, and a slice of
bread for supper. But tears and lamentations were vain;
and therefore, as soon as the storm was over, he pursued his
journey, in hopes of finding some barn or outhouse to
creep into for the rest of the night. While he was thus
wandering about, he saw at some distance a great light,
which seemed to come from some prodigious fire. Jack
did not know what this could be; but, in his present situa-
tion, he thought a fire no disagreeable object, and therefore
determined to approach it. When he came nearer, he saw
a large building which seemed to spout fire and smoke at
several openings, and heard an incessant noise of blows,
and the rattling of chains. Jack was at first a little fright-
ened; but summoning all his courage, he crept cautiously
on to the building, and looking through a chink, disco\'ered
several men and boys employed in blowing fires and ham-
mering burning masses of iron. This was a very comfort-
able sight to him in his present forlorn condition ; so finding
a door half open, he ventured in. ;nid placed himself as near
as he dared to one of the fiaming furnaces. It was not long
before he was discovered by one of the workmen, who asked
him roughly what business he had tliere. Jack answered,
with great humility, that he was a i)oor boy, looking out for
work; that he had had no food all day, and was wet to the



HISTORY OF LITTLE JACK. 421

skin with the rain, which was evident enough from the
appearance of his clothes. By great good luck the man he
spoke to was goodnatured, and therefore not only permitted
him to stay by the fire, but gave him some broken victuals
for his supper. After this he laid himself down in a corner,
and slept without disturbance till the morning. He was
scarcely awake the next day, when the master of the forge
came in to overlook his men, who finding Jack, and hearing
his story, began to reproach him as a lazy vagabond, and
asked him why he did not work for his living. Jack assured
him there was nothing he so earnestly desired, and that if
he would please to employ him, there is nothing that he
would not do to earn a subsistence. ' Well, my boy,' said
the master, ' if this is true, you shall soon be tried; nobody
need be idle here; so calling his foreman, he ordered him
to set that lad to work, and pay him in proportion to his
deserts.' Jack now thought himself completely happy, and
worked with so much assiduity, that he soon gained a •com-
fortable livelihood, and acquired the esteem of his master.
But, unfortunately, he was a little too unreserved in his con-
versation, and communicated the story of his former life and
education. This was great matter of diversion to all the
other boys of the forge, who, whenever they were inclined
to be merry, would call him Little Jack the beggar-boy, and
imitate the baaing of a goat. This was too much for his
irascible temper, and he never failed to resent it; by which
means he was engaged in continual quarrels and combats,
to the great disturbance of the house; .so that his master,
though in other respects perfectly satisfied with his be-
haviour, began to fear that he should at last be obliged to
discharge him.

It happened one day, that a large company of gentlemen
and ladies were introduced to see the works. The master
attended them, and explained, with great politeness, every
part of his manufacture. They viewed with astonishment
the different methods by which that useful and necessary
ore of iron is rendered fit for human use. They examined
the furnaces where it is melted down, to disengage it from
the dross with which it is mixed in the bowels of the earth,



422 STOREHOUSE OF STORIES.

and whence it runs down in liquid torrents like fire. They
beheld with ecjual pleasure the prodigious hammers which,
moved by tlie force of water, mould it into massy bars for
the service of man. While they were busy in examining these
different processes, they were alarmed by a sudden noise of
discord, which broke out on the other side of the building;
and the master inquiring into the cause, was told that it was
only Little Jack, who was fighting with Tom the collier. At
this the master cried out in a passion, ' There is no peace to
be expected in the furnace while that little rascal is em-
ployed; send him to me, and I will instantly discharge him.'
At this moment Jack appeared, all covered with blood and
dirt, and stood before his angry judge in a modest, but
resolute posture. 'Is this the reward,' said his master, 'you
little audacious vagabond, of all my kindness? Can you
never refrain a single instant from broils and fighting? But
I am determined to bear it no longer; and therefore you
shall never, from this hour, do a single stroke of work for
me.' ' Sir,' replied Jack with great humility, but yet with
firmness, 'I am extremely sorry to have disobliged you, nor
have I ever done it willingly since I have been here; and if
the other boys would only mind their business as well as I do,
ajid not molest me, you would not have been offended now;
for. I defy them all to say that, since I have been in the
house, I have ever given anyone the least provocation, or
ever refused, to the utmost of my strength, to do whatever I
have been ordered.' 'That's true, in good faith,' said the
foreman; ' I must do Little Jack the justice to say, that there
is not a more honest, sober, and industrious lad about the
place. Set him to what you will, he never skulks, never
grumbles, never slights his work; and if it were not for a
little passion and fighting, I dont believe there would be
his fellow in England.' 'Well,' said the master, a little
mollified, ' but what is the cause of all this sudden disturb-
ance ? ' 'Sir,' answered Jack, 'it is Tom that has been
abusing me, and telling me that my father was a beggarman
and my mother a nanny-goat; and when I desired him to
be quiet, he went baaing all about the house ; and this I
could not bear; for, as to my poor father, he was an honest



HISTORY OF LITTLE JACK. 423

soldier; and if I did suck a goat, she was the best creature
in the world, and I won't hear her abused while I have any
strength in my body.' At this harangue, the whole audience
were scarcely able to refrain from laughing, and the master,
with more composure, told Jack to mind his business, and
threatened the other boys with punishment if they disturbed
him.

But a lady who was in company seemed particularly in-
terested about Little Jack, and when she had heard his story,
said, ' This must certainly be the little boy who opened a
gate several years past for me upon Norcot Moor. I
remember being struck with liis appearance, and hearing
him lament the loss of the goat that nursed him. I was
very much affected with his history, and since he deserves
so good a character, if you will part from him, I will in-
stantly take him into my service.' The master replied, that
he should part with him with great satisfaction to such an
excellent mistress ; that indeed the boy deserved all the
commendations which had been given; but since the other
lads had such a habit of plaguing, and Jack was of so
impatient a temper, he despaired of ever composing their
animosities. Jack was then called, and informed of the
lady's offer, which he instantly accepted with the greatest
readiness, and received immediate directions to her house.

Jack was now in a new sphere of life. His face was
washed, his hair combed, he was clothed afresh, and ap-
peared a very smart, active lad. His business was to help
in the stable, to water the horses, to clean shoes, to perform
errands, and to do all the jobs of the family; and in the
discharge of these services he soon gave universal satis-
faction. He was indefatigable in doing what he was
ordered, never grumbled or appeared out of temper,
and seemed so quiet and inoffensive in his manners, that
everybody wondered how he had acquired the character of
being quarrelsome. In a short time he became both the
favourite and the drudge of the whole family; for, speak but
kindly to him and call him a little soldier, and Jack was at
everyone's disposal. This was Jack's particular foii)le and
vanity; at his leisure hours he would divert himself by the



424 STOREHOUSE OF STORIES.



hour together in poising a dung-fork, charging with a broom-
stick, and standing sentry at the stable door. Another
propensity of Jack's, which now discovered itself, was an
immoderate love of horses. The instant he was introduced
into the stable he attached himself so strongly to these
animals, that you would have taken him for one of the same
species, or at least a near relation. Jack was never tired
with rubbing down and currying them; the coachman had
scarcely any business but to sit upon his box; all the opera-
tions of the stable were entrusted to Little Jack, nor was it
ever known that he neglected a single particular. But what
gave him more pleasure than all the rest, was sometimes to
accompany his mistress upon a little horse, which he managed
with infinite dexterity.

Jack too discovered a great disposition for all the useful
and mechanic arts. He had served an apprenticeship
already to the manufactory of iron, and of this he was almost
as vain as being a soldier. As he began to extend his know-
ledge of the world, he saw that nothing could be done with-
out iron. ' How would you plough the ground,' said Jack ;
'how would you dig your garden; how would you even light
a fire, dress a dinner, shoe a horse, or do the least thing in
the world, if we workmen at the forge did not take the
trouble of preparing it for you 1 ' Thus Jack would some-
times expatiate upon the dignity and importance of his
own profession, to the great admiration of all the other
servants.

These ideas naturally gave Jack a great esteem for the
profession of a blacksmith, and, in his occasional visits to
the forge with the horses, he learnt to make and fix a shoe
as neatly as any artist in the country.

Nor were jack's talents confined to the manufactory of
iron ; his love of horses was so great, and his interest in
everything that related to them, that it was not long before
he acquired a very competent knowledge in the art of
saddlery.

Jack would also sometimes observe the carpenters when
they were at work, and sometimes by stealth attempt the
manacement of their tools: in which he succeeded as well



HISTORY OF LITTLE JACK. 425



as in everything else; so that he was looked upon by every-
body as a very active, ingenious boy.

There was in the family where he now lived a young
gentleman, the nephew of his mistress, who had lost his
parents, and was therefore brought up by his aunt. As
Master Willets was something younger than Jack, and a
very good-natured boy, he soon began to take notice of him,
and be much diverted with his company. Jack, indeed, was
not undeserving this attention; for although he could not
boast any great advantages of education, his conduct was
entirely free from all the vices to which some of the lower
class of people are subject. Jack \vas never heard to swear,
or express himself with any indecency. He was civil and
respectful in his manners to all his superiors, and uniformly
goodnatured to his equals. In respect to the animals en-
trusted to his care, he not only refrained from using them
ill, but was never tired of doing them good offices. Added
to this, he was sober, temperate, hardy, active, and ingenious,
and despised a lie as much as any of his betters. Master
Willets now began to be much pleased with playing at cricket
and trap-ball with Jack, who excelled at both these games.
Master Willets had a little horse which Jack looked after; and,
not contented with looking after him in the best manner, he
used to ride him at his leisure hours, with so much care and
address that in a short time he made him the most gentle
and docile little animal in the countr)'. Jack had acquired
this knowledge partly from his own experience, and partly
from paying particular attention to an itinerant riding-master
that had lately exhibited various feats in that neighbourhood.



Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeA storehouse of stories : storehouse the first → online text (page 38 of 43)